When you walk into a person's home, you expect to see the young kids running through the house playing games. One spouse may be cooking the family dinner in the kitchen while the other is in the home office finishing up work before the weekend arrives. Yet family dynamics have changed over the past decade. It is no longer frowned upon to see the thirty-something young adult still living at home with their parents or find the aging parents living out their retirement years with their adult children, and when several generations live in one household like this, it is what is called multigenerational living.
Multigenerational homes have now become the norm.
Reasons for Multigenerational Households
There are several factors spurring the popularity of multiple generations of family members living under one roof.
Young adults from 25 to 30 years of age who are looking for work, find that the easiest solution is to move back in with parents to be in a stable situation. They are then able to go back to school to obtain higher degrees, look for the right job, and save money -- possibly to purchase their own home.
The young adult trend is actually outpacing the past historical tendencies, where seniors moved in with adult children to be close to family members, and in doing so helped pay for home expenses.
The most common reason for the increase in multi-generational living arrangements, is simple economics.
As real estate prices have generally continued to rise, incomes haven't done so at the same pace, resulting in lower homeownership rates. Additionally, retirement savings were hit hard by the global economic crisis several years ago. Today, intergenerational households are often the result of financial necessity, and there are too many benefits of multigenerational living to ignore.
Purchasing a Home for the Multigenerational Family
Today, many families who are seeking to purchase a home are more aware of their future lifestyle needs when adult children and aging parents move into their spaces. As a result, they are more actively consulting with real estate agents about their desires to own a multigenerational home.
While home builders are recognizing the multi-generational home trends in creating new homes that accommodate multigenerational families, due to lack of suitable options, it's common for buyers to instead purchase a single-family home and renovate the home to suit their family's specific needs.
Planning Before Buying a Multigenerational Home
If you are part of a family planning to buy a multigenerational home, or you are looking for a single-family home that can be remodeled into a multigenerational house, there are several factors to keep in mind during your house hunt. One of the top tasks is sitting down with all family members and discussing the particular features of the desired home.
Questions to ask before searching for a multi-generation home include:
- Will everyone eat together and spend time together on a regular basis?
- What changes need to be made to accommodate family members with medical or mobility issues?
- Will a caretaker or in-home nurse be needed overnight to help aging parents?
- Should there be separate entrances and private designated spaces?
By asking these questions, you will be able to determine if the new home will need to have multiple master suites, mother-in-law apartments, or just extra bedrooms based on the amount of privacy that family members desire occasionally.
You will also have a better understanding about whether you will need to install ramps or elevators for aging parents to move about, and if you must occasionally make accommodations for nurses taking care of family members.
Also, find out what things that people don't want in the new house. There's no point in getting a home that has hardwood flooring throughout when both the young kids and older parents prefer carpeting.
Gather the Family - Set Priorities & Make Concessions
It can be hard to find existing homes that offer everything that each family member wants. So you need to sit back and decide what concessions everyone can make to come to a mutual agreement for everyone.
While your parents might prefer to live in the house, they may be persuaded to live in a converted garage that has a breezeway to the main home. Young adult children who want to have their own separate section of the house with multiple rooms as their own area, may have to contend with a basement studio.
Inform your real estate agent about your needs for a multigenerational house as well as the must-haves and features to avoid. They will be able to provide you with floor plans of existing homes and new developments where every family member can sit down and decide how to change the space into the perfect place that everyone will love.
A Home For Every Type of Multigenerational Family
What many people may not realize is there isn’t just one type of multigenerational house plan that is expected to fit every family’s needs. There are quite a few different multigenerational floorplans for families who need extra space in order to live comfortably. Here are some of them:
- Two homes on a single lot: If the property is large enough, some families may choose to build a second home on in order to provide extra growing space.
- Multiple residential suites: Duplexes, triplexes, and so on can all be good ways to house a multigenerational family within separate parts of the same building.
- A custom-built home: For families who have the means, it’s possible to work with builders to create a custom home designed especially for the family’s unique needs.
- Adjoining halfplexes: If halfplexes are available in the area, homeowners may consider buying two that are connected for two homes that feel like one.
The type of home available will largely rely on where the family lives, so interested home buyers should look into what type of housing is available in their current area and choose the type of multigenerational home they want after that.