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Are Multigenerational Households in Your Future?



Have we entered the age of multigenerational living? If you glance into the average household across the U.S. it’s likely you’ll see more and more generations living, dining, and sharing under one roof. It’s actually a trending lifestyle beginning to reemerge. Multigenerational Housing. We’re seeing more families start to adopt the idea of one or more generations living under one roof. According to the Pew Research report, almost one in five Americans live in a multigenerational household and the numbers continue to rise. In this article, we’ll dip into the ways in which multigenerational households can be structured and how they can affect your wallet. 

What is Multigenerational Living?

Do you live with your parents? Do your parents live with you? Do your children or grandchildren live at home? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, then you live in a multigenerational household. 


Structuring Styles for Multigenerational Living 

When a lot of personalities are contained together it can strain family relationships. Shared spaces spell a shared mess, and boundaries often get muddied if clear rules aren’t put into place. Especially if issues are not handled in an open and respectful manner. How can you get the best of living together while protecting family relationships? And while the financial benefits of living in a multigenerational household can be enjoyed by all participants it needs to be a shared enjoyment to be successful. To avoid turning your family into a “Maury special” you should answer some basic questions before moving in together.

  1. First, will this arrangement be long-term or short-term? Depending on your situation, this will change based upon several factors. For example, millennials are leading the way in moving back home after college. Typically, they may want to move in for a few years to get their finances in order. Conversely, if your aging parents move in the arrangement will most likely be in a more permanent one. That’s why having an open discussion about the duration will help you determine how much time and money should be put into your living space. 
  2.  Once the time duration is established naturally the next question is where will everyone sleep? Whether this means moving into a larger place, adding on an “in-law” suite or buying conjoining dwellings. It should be what’s best for all parties, but make sure privacy is a top priority and establish clear boundaries.
  3.  Regardless if it’s parent to child or grandparent to grandchild, will you knock before you enter a room, or is it ok to borrow things without asking? Determine the unspoken rules of the house. Since we’re dealing with family members living together, and you may be uncomfortable with setting boundaries, one idea is to treat it like a new roommate. What would you want them to know? Establish a shared list of responsibilities and have family meetings when issues arise. This will help the communication channel flow and reduce the chances of anyone feeling taken advantage of. 

What’s the Price Tag?  

More people means more money, right? While this isn’t always the case, determine how living in a multigenerational household will impact your finances. Will parents, grandparents, or adult children be paying rent or will payment be exchanged in the form of household chores? In some cases, if your parents need to move back in the cost of caring for the elderly can significantly alter your financial picture. Having one or two adult mouths to feed can be a lot and so it’s ok if you need to think before agreeing to change your living environments. 

In some cases, more family members will mean you need a bigger house. As the need for new styles of living has risen the housing market has tried to keep up. There are a few options available when looking for multigenerational housing. For example, most construction companies can easily add on an “in-law suite” that could provide all parties with more independence, you can create a quasi-separate space, or even commit to joint ownership. Taking the step into multigenerational households can be an important moment for your finances so weigh your options and make sure it’s the best fit for your life.

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