Should You Live in a Multigenerational Home?

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At one time, it was a common goal for the American college student to graduate, move out of the family home, and find a home of their own. However, with the rising cost of living and debt, people have started opting to live with family members. College graduates are moving back in with their parents to save money, and older adults are moving in with their children and grandchildren rather than into retirement homes. Should you consider a multi-generational home for yourself?

What exactly is a multigenerational home?

Although children and their parents are members of two different generations, this combination does not qualify as a multigenerational home. These homes consist of more than two adult generations living together or grandparents who live with grandchildren who are younger than 25.

Why do people choose to live in multi-generational homes?

Many Americans used to consider moving out of their parents’ homes as a sign of independence and adulthood. However, sharing a home is now becoming a mark of intelligence and sensibility. As the cost of living has risen dramatically, it helps to live in a group of multiple employed adults who can share the home’s expenses.

It’s also helpful for members of older generations to have young people around. As you age, it becomes more and more difficult to do physically-demanding chores and attempting to do so could cause injury. If the younger people in the home handle the more challenging chores, the older family members can take on less taxing jobs, like packing school lunches or setting the table.

Some of the greatest parts of living in a multi-generational home are the social benefits that everyone experiences. Elderly people can become lonely once they’re retired, potentially living at home alone or with a partner. A sense of purpose is crucial during all stages of life, and grandparents feel responsible for helping take care of their grandchildren if they’re living together. Children also benefit from bonding with their grandparents and learning to connect with older generations.

Of course, living in a home with a bigger group of people than a single-family home enhances the safety of everyone involved. If one family member has an emergency or accident, chances are someone else will be home to help take care of the problem. This is especially helpful for the elderly, who can experience complications if they fall.

What about privacy?

Privacy is one of the biggest concerns people have about switching to a multi-generational home. If you’re used to living on your own or with a more immediate family unit, this is a valid worry. However, families are devising new and inventive ways to make their homes both shared and private spaces. Some work with architects who can design a family home containing both shared living space and private sections. For example, your bedroom might be on one end of the house and your parents could be on the other. Other homes even have different entryways for the private sections. If you’re not looking to build an entirely new home, you can consider putting an addition on your home, transforming your garage into a suite, or designating certain floors of your home, like a basement or top floor, as designated private living space for one person or group of people.

How can we make it work?

If you’re considering living in a multi-generational home, it’s important to set ground rules for yourself and others. First, everyone should commit to taking personal time for themselves. Just because you live in a home with multiple family members doesn’t mean your life has to become a never-ending visit. Everyone should continue going to school or work, spending time with friends, and engaging in hobbies. Also, although grandparents can help with the children, parents shouldn’t expect the grandparents to act as a constant childcare service. Members of the household have to agree to respect one another and not just assume people will pick up responsibilities without being asked. Most of all, it’s important to communicate openly so that issues don’t build up over time without resolution.

Whether you’re trying to save money, care for a parent, or establish a close family unit, a multigenerational home could be the right decision for you and your extended family.