In the 1950s about 21% of Americans shared a home with their grown children or parents. It dropped to a low of about 12% in 1980 but has been rising again, up to 19%. According to the National Association of Realtors, 11% of home buyers purchased multi-generational homes last year. Of course this isn't unusual in other cultures… about 90% of the people in the world live in extended family arrangements!
The idea of the nuclear family (mom, dad & kids) is only about 50 years old. Although the trend back to more multi-generational living was influenced by the Great Recession 2007-2009 due to economic reasons, the top reason last year was taking care of aging parents…
- Taking care of aging parents (19%)
- Cost savings (18%)
- Children over the age of 18 moving back home (14%)
Extended families living together are discovering benefits beyond financial ones, including an enriched family life and more flexible schedules with more family members available to juggle childcare and eldercare. Living together under the same roof can result in more quality time together and time savings both in travel and as a result of sharing household duties.
It can be said that multi-generational living is getting back to the way human beings naturally live… in extended families that care for each other… as many Asian and Hispanic households still do today.
If you are considering such an arrangement, it is important to understand upfront the family dynamic and how interactive you want your lives to be. Kitchens can be the most difficult space to share if you don't share all your meals, and often a second kitchen is the answer… as well as multiple bathrooms! It is also important to recognize that everyone needs their own private space… planning for it from the beginning can help prevent problems later.