More Americans are living in multigenerational housing

On January 12, 2017 in Family Life & Health

More Americans are living in multigenerational housing

For decades, the nuclear family might have been considered the typical living situation in the U.S., with parents and children living under one roof until the children are old enough to strike out on their own. But this pattern is changing.

Multigenerational homes, a common tradition in many cultures across the world and throughout history, has started to reemerge in American homes. According to a recent study from the Pew Research Center, nearly one in five U.S. homes was multigenerational in 2014.

That means about 60.6 million people enjoyed the many benefits of living under the same roof as relatives from other generations. This is the highest number in recent memory. In the 1950s, a similar percentage of the population also lived in multigenerational homes, but this equated to just 32.2 million people. And by 1980, the percentage of the population that shared a home with several generations was just 12 percent, or 27.5 million people.

Who’s moving in?

There are two primary ways multigenerational homes are beginning to form. For some, adult children are moving back in with their parents. The effects of the Great Recession might be a major driver of this. Indeed, multigenerational homes began to rise dramatically in the mid- to late-2000s, Pew pointed out. And parents living with their adult children account for the majority of multigenerational homes: 29.7 million Americans matched this description in 2014.

Other times, it’s not an adult moving back in with mom or dad. Rather, it’s a grandparent or older relative moving in with his or her adult children. Close to 27 million Americans lived in three-generation homes in 2014. The drivers for this might include a goal of increased financial stability, the desire to be closer to grandchildren or a need for increased help as the grandparent ages.

Benefits of multigenerational homes

One of the most obvious benefits of living under the same roof with multiple generations might be the very reason the trend started: cost savings. But this isn’t the only positive effect of moving in with mom or dad, or your son or daughter.

Another benefit young parents might appreciate is the extra set of hands to help around the house and with child care. Apartment Guide Blog pointed out that grandparents who can help with household chores or transportation are more appreciated. Plus, it’s not uncommon for seniors who live alone to begin to feel isolated, which can lead to depression or health problems that go unnoticed. When everyone lives together, grandparents get that much-sought-after family time.

Managing multiple generations

While there are many benefits to living with one’s parents, grandparents or grandchildren, any new living arrangement can come with its own set of obstacles. It’s important to establish rules and boundaries, like who will be primarily responsible for different chores or expenses. If you live in a home with a main house and a grandparent’s suite with another entrance, discuss whether you want your family members to knock on your front door before coming in.

As the family grows and changes, it’s also important that the house continues to meet everyone’s needs. As grandma or grandpa gets older, renovations to make aging in place easier might be necessary. Putting on an addition can also give them some private space of their own to enjoy. A multigenerational home can benefit the entire family, but it’s important that all members of the household are on the same page to ensure the relationship is still working well for everyone.