More and more, we are seeing multiple generations of a family living together in one home. The changing dynamics of the American family structure and financial uncertainty increase the desire for aging parents to live with their adult children, or younger adult children to stay at home longer.
Multigenerational households currently make up about 18% of households in the U.S., which is more than double than the 1970s when it was only 7% of homes. A multigenerational home is defined as having at least 2 adult generations living under one roof.
Factors Driving the Shift
There are several factors driving the shift towards multigenerational housing.
- Families are becoming more diverse and complex. There is a surge in the population, and foreign-born citizens are more likely to live with multiple generations under one roof. In addition, more couples are divorcing, and single-parents might choose to live with their family members for additional support.
- Living with aging family members can also give younger generations the ability to care and support their family members, rather than moving to a care facility.
- The economy and housing market are also having an effect. With high housing costs and job insecurity many people are choosing to pool resources with family members for living costs.
Benefits and Challenges
Multigenerational living has many benefits, but like anything, also has challenges. Making the decision to live with extended family should be considered carefully, making sure you weigh the pros and cons.
1. Creates a strong support system
Members of the family from all generations can provide support for the others. Younger members can help older generations from feeling lonely or isolated. Older generations can pass on their wisdom and culture, providing mentorship.
Living together is a cost-effective way to share living expenses, like mortgage payments, utilities, and groceries. This helps all generations of the family to save money and live more comfortably.
3. Independence for the aging
For older adults, living with family members can provide a sense of security and comfort. They also maintain more of their independence and stay connected to their communities when they live with younger generations.
4. Family bonds
With busy schedules, it can be hard to get extended family members together for events outside of the major holidays. Multigenerational living creates stronger family bonds and lasting traditions. Families can share meals, special moments, and spend time together almost every day.
1. Loss of privacy
Living in close proximity with family members can lead to a loss of privacy and personal space. Everyone might have different expectations about boundaries. Clear rules and guidelines need to be established to ensure everyone feels respected and comfortable.
2. Different habits
Different generations can have different living habits and expectations, which can lead to conflicts. For example, younger family members may want to stay up late and listen to music, while older family members might want to be calm and quiet a majority of the time.
3. Space limitations
Families might need to live in smaller spaces than they are used to, which can be challenging. Families may need to consider ways to maximize space and storage to make living together more comfortable.
4. Communication issues
Sometimes living with family members can lead to miscommunication and misunderstandings. If families are open and honest about their needs and concerns, everyone can work together to find solutions.
With the increase in mult-generational housing, it is important to keep this demographic in mind when building and marketing new homes. The trend seems to continue moving upward, and more and more families will be switching to this type of living situation.