Over the past decade, the U.S. has been experiencing a steady rise in multigenerational households. With over 41% of American homebuyers considering cohabitating with a senior aged parent or adult child, according to a survey taken by independent research firm, John Burns Real Estate Consulting.
Additionally, census records reported by Pew Research Center in April 2018 reflected over 64 million U.S. citizens lived in multi-gen households.
Who Lives in a Multigenerational Household?
The U.S. Census Bureau defines today’s trend of “multi-gen” households as “more than two adult generations living in the same dwelling or grandparents living with grandchildren under the age of 25.”
These multiple generational households can include both immediate and extended family members, including:
Some adult children are finding it more convenient and less stressful to move in with their aging parent(s) or move their parents in with them. Doing so can alleviate the cost of in-home care or residing in a nursing home. Additionally, older parents can fair better mentally and health-wise by living with their adult children.
It is not uncommon to find households with an adult parent and young adult children living under the same roof. In 2016, Pew Research Center reported one-third of 25 to 29-year-old adults in the U.S. were living in the same home as their parents. Also, it is becoming more common for middle age adult children to move in with their senior parents due to financial or social issues. In some situations, this can include the adult child and their spouse and children.
In 2016, an estimated 7.2 million grandparents lived with their grandchildren. From those households, 3.2 million were part of households without their grandchildren’s parents present. Known as “grandfamilies,” this multi-gen living situation comes about often as a solution to job loss, divorce, or poverty.
Multi-gen living situations can include extended family members, as well. Think aunt, uncle, cousins, in-laws, or any relations outside of the immediate family nucleus (parents, children, grandchildren). This type of situation can often occur due to cultural beliefs, economics, or simply, out of love and care for the family.
Pros & Cons of Multi-Gen Living
Families are finding living in a multigenerational household can be both a positive and negative experience. Extenuating circumstances, individual personalities, and financial status can enhance or detract from overall satisfaction with a multi-gen lifestyle. Below you’ll find some of the most common pros and cons.
Pros of Multi-Gen Living
- Provides convenience when caring for aging or ailing parents.
- No loss of time due to commuting to and from a nursing home or parent’s home.
- Gives peace of mind in knowing your loved ones are safe and sound.
- Spending time with their adult children or grandchildren can improve the mental and emotional well-being of aging parents.
- Allows for more family time.
- Help with the care of younger children.
- Improves emotional well-being and mental health of grandchildren with an absentee parent(s).
- Shared household chores take the pressure off all family members.
- Financial savings on rent/mortgage, maintenance, groceries, utilities, internet, and possibly taxes with a single household to support.
- Easier to obtain home financing.
- Possible tax advantages.
Cons of Multi-Gen Living
- Can be mentally, emotionally, and financially stressful.
- Family strife from current or past disagreements can heighten tension and stress within the home.
- Less privacy due to having more people in the household.
- Increase in housework on some members due to other’s illness, inability to care for the house or themselves, or lack of cleanliness in general.
- More noise and increased activity can be bothersome to some older people.
- Complete change of lifestyle when having lived alone or with a spouse only.
- Financial imbalance and distress can occur if all family members are not paying their fair share on household expenses.
- Home improvement costs associated with remodeling to add safety and convenience features to the home.
- Relocation costs associated with having to move into a larger home.
What Is a Multi-Gen Home?
Multi-gen homes (or next-gen homes) are specifically designed to accommodate multiple generations living under one roof. In the ideal multi-gen layout, each generation will enjoy a private and separate space of their own, while all family members share common rooms such as the living room, family room, kitchen, and outdoor areas. Additional features of a multi-gen or next-gen home can include full attached or standalone suites with baths and kitchenettes, private outdoor entrances, and more. While these custom homes may cost more to design and build initially, a combining of multiple household member’s financial resources will often offset the increase.
More and more U.S. homebuilders are offering multi-gen homes and custom multi-gen housing solutions. You’ll find homebuilders across the country who specialize in creating the ideal home for bringing multiple generations together under one roof.
In these increasingly challenging times of economic, health, and social hardship, the well-being and care of our parents, children, and extended family members becomes a top priority for many Americans. With that in mind, multi-gen living can provide a valuable solution for navigating the uncertain future of U.S. families.
Joanna Dorman is a freelance writer with over 16 years of experience creating interior design, home building, home improvement, and real estate content. Additionally, she has 15 years of field experience in the interior design industry and trained in interior design at the Art Institute of Houston.