The number of households with more than one adult generation living together increased over 30% from 2000 to 2010 and is expected to continue to grow. A record 49 million Americans live in multigeneration households. That's 16.1% of the total US population… but 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. With the economic conditions in recent years it isn't surprising that the top reason for moving in with other family members has been financial, but health care issues aren't far behind and some are coming together because of a strong family bond and a desire to share resources.
Extended families living together are discovering other benefits as well, 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.
This growing trend is currently largely being driven by…
- Recent college graduates moving back with their parents when they can't find well-paying jobs
- Elderly parents moving in with their children to have care and support of family members
- Young families moving in with their parents (or vice versa or buying a house together) to help with child care and share housing expenses
- Increased immigration from cultures more inclined to live in multi-generational households
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.
Some multigenerational families buy homes together to fit their needs, sometimes with an eye on remodeling… and some homebuilders are designing and building homes specifically to fill this need, such as Lennar's NEXT GEN – Home within a Home.
Sharlene Hensrud, RE/MAX Results – Baby Boomer REALTOR