Multigenerational Households: The New Normal of Housing?

Jessica Beeli |

recession, multigenerational living, jobs, tough financial timesFor decades the path to adulthood looked something like this. Graduate from high school, go to college, graduate from college, get a job, get your own place, and, ta-da, you’re an adult. But a new economic reality has changed that.

Multi-generational housing, having three generations living together, is become more and more normal. College grads that can’t find work, older people who can’t live on their own, and the generation paying for them both, all living under one roof. 

According to the Pew Research Center Analysis of the most recent US census, approximately 51 million Americans, or 16.7 percent of the population, live in a house with two or more adult generations. There was a 10.5% increase in multigenerational housing from 2007 to 2009.

Tough Financial Times Mean New Ways to Cope

So why are American families living together? Well, the main reason is money. As the cost of living rises, the practicality of living under one roof does as well. Both younger and older generations are having economic trouble, and leaning on other family members helps reduce the cost.

As recent graduates struggle with getting jobs and finding economic stability, many are staying at home. “Boomerang kids” have long dealt with a stigma of failure that comes with moving back home, but recently this has become a cultural norm. More than 75% of 25-34 aged adults living with parents report being satisfied with their living situation.

And most of these young adults aren’t reverting to their childhood state. Almost 90% contribute to living expenses and half pay rent. These “boomerangs” also see closer family ties, improved finances and joint care as a result of their multigenerational lifestyle.

The Kids Aren’t All Right, and Your Parents Aren’t Either

Older generations are moving back in as well. This is often a result of financial circumstances as well, but also in terms of providing care on both sides. The cost of care for the elderly is high. The average cost of a private nursing home room is $90,520 annually. Semiprivate rooms and assisted living can be cheaper, but they still usually run upwards of 50 grand a year.

A family caring for its older members has other appeals as well.  Many family members get a certain peace of mind directly caring for a family member, knowing they’ll get a more personal level of treatment. This also prevents isolation that many older people suffer in their later years and creates stronger family bonds. And some older family members help out as well. Many can provide childcare or help around the house.

Multigenerational Households are Nothing New

Although this is an increasingly recent trend, multigenerational housing is nothing new. Before World War II, a large number of extended families lived together. Many other cultures, particularly Asians and Latinos, are also long time practitioners of multigenerational housing.

These new living situations are not without its problems. Some of these households suffer from a lack of privacy, increased time lost caring of family, and other complications. But as this housing trend becomes increasingly normal, in many cases the positives outweigh the negatives.

With improved family relationships, more care options, and financial solutions, multigenerational housing is increasingly becoming a viable option for families everywhere.

 
 

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