What Is Multigenerational Housing?
With more homeowners sharing their living space with multiple generations, we are seeing a major shift in the market.
Have you ever lived in a home with multiple generations of family members? According to 2018 data from the Pew Research Center, more people live in multigenerational homes than ever before. There are plenty of reasons for this upward trend, from easily accessible childcare to more affordable housing and other expenses. In response to the rise in popularity for this type of living, there are also more houses available on the market that are made specifically for or are better suited to multigenerational families.
Let’s break down what exactly a multigenerational house is and what some of the benefits and downsides of this home style might be.
What Is A Multigenerational Home?
Multigenerational homes are households made up of several generations of family members living together under one roof. There must be at least two adult generations in the home for it to count as being “multigenerational.” This might mean adult children living with their parents or even extended family.
Multigenerational homes may be designed specifically to accommodate multiple generations and are often modified over time to fit changing lifestyle needs. Since multi-gen homes don’t necessarily fit the single-family home structure, they are sometimes considered a form of alternative housing.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the demand for multigenerational homes has risen exponentially. According to the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), the number of homes purchased for multigenerational households increased by 15% between April and June of 2020 alone. That said, homes for larger families like these are more readily available now than ever before.
Examples Of Multigenerational Households
Not every multigenerational household looks the same. A common situation is adult children moving in with their aging parents to take care of them. Grandparents, children and grandchildren living together is another common scenario that helps parents secure reliable childcare and keeps the family tight knit. There are plenty of other variations on multigenerational households as well, some including extended family members like aunts and uncles, cousins, etc.
Depending on how many generations are living together, multigenerational households may have different living space arrangements. For example, parents and their adult children may choose to live in a home with an attached private suite to give one party or the other some privacy when needed. A private suite often has a private entrance, its own kitchenette and separate living area while still remaining attached to the floor plan of the main home. This could be a basement suite, second floor suite or other arrangement. Other multigenerational households have no separate suite areas and instead house the entire family in the same space. The layout of a multigenerational home depends largely on the family residing in it and how they want to use the space.
Types Of Multigenerational Homes
There are several different home types that remain popular among multigenerational households. Some are built specifically to accommodate multigenerational families and may have carefully structured floor plans with additional bedrooms or private suites. Some multigen families may even choose to live on multihouse lots where a portion of the household may reside in a guest house on the same property.
Duplexes and triplexes are popular choices as well, since they offer completely separate living quarters connected by a wall or floor.
Pros And Cons Of Multigenerational Living
Living in a multigenerational home can be a great way to stay close to family and cut down on expenses, but it definitely isn’t for everyone. Let’s break down some of the pros and cons of multigenerational living to help you decide whether this style of housing could work for you.
- Closer-knit family: Many people that live in single-family homes only see their extended family members a few times a year for special occasions. A multigenerational household can create a stronger family bond across generations.
- Shared expenses can make things more affordable: With more people living under one roof, there are more family members to share the burden of the costs of running the household, from paying the mortgage to buying groceries.
- Childcare may be easier: Anyone with young children knows that finding childcare can be stressful and expensive. Living with grandparents or retired older family members can guarantee there’s always someone to watch the kids if needed, plus the children will grow up having a closer relationship with extended family members than many other children do.
- You can care for elderly family members: In addition to having guaranteed care for children, living with extended family members means you can take care of grandparents and other older family members, too. This not only reduces care costs but can ease the minds of children who want to make sure their aging parents are well taken care of.
- Lack of privacy: No matter how big of a space you’re sharing, living with extended family can create privacy issues. If you’re spending time constantly around family members, you may feel you have no time to yourself.
- Differences in lifestyles: Different generations coexisting in the same home can create unexpected lifestyle issues as well. Different family members may be up and about at different times of the day or night depending on their schedule, for example, which could become irritating to others trying to sleep.
- Financial concerns: While more people working together can alleviate some financial stress, it can also create it. When living with a larger group of people, it’s important to clearly go over the financial responsibilities of every family member to make sure expenses are split fairly and equitably. It’s also important to consider that there may be higher home and utility costs associated with housing more people than usual under one roof.
The Bottom Line
Multigenerational homes are becoming increasingly popular in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, with more than 64 million Americans living with more than one adult generation in their home. This style of living can be extremely beneficial to those looking to be closer to family, split expenses and simplify things like childcare and elder care costs. It’s definitely not for everyone, though, so be sure to research all the costs, benefits and drawbacks of living with multiple family members before making the leap yourself.