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Family of Varying AgesWhether you’re seriously dating, engaged, or married, you probably find yourself contemplating the future you’ll share with your significant other. Your living situation in particular may be something you think about often. While many imagine living under one roof with their spouse and children, more people are finding themselves living in residences that house multiple generations. Imagine sharing a home with one or more parents and children. What if one or more of your adult children comes to live with you for a period of time? These scenarios are what we call multigenerational living. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of these households has quadrupled from 14 million to almost 60 million over the past 50 years.

Why Multigenerational Living Makes Sense

There are several factors that have contributed to the growth of these types of households. People are living longer, and many families find it advantageous to have young children and grandparents living together. Immigrant families often have multiple generations in one residence to establish roots and share resources. Here are some reasons you might consider a multigenerational home:

  • Stronger Connections: Grandparents and grandchildren both benefit from living together. Young kids can help older people feel young and more vital. Older children often feel a stronger sense of family and inspiration by having closer relationships with grandparents and older relatives. Older adults also help kids with speech development, intellectual curiosity, and learning how to care for others.
  • Adult Care or Daycare: Assisted living facilities and daycare can be prohibitively expensive for families. Many are able to reduce or eliminate these costs through multigenerational living.
  • Reduced Financial Burden: Households with several generations often involve multiple sources of income. Major expenses such as mortgages, taxes, and HOA fees can be divided among earners, resulting in overall savings and better cash flow. 

Why You Should Think Twice About Multigenerational Living

The economic and relationship pros for multigenerational households can be quite attractive. Here are some challenges to consider before you commit one way or the other:

  • More Expenses: Multigenerational living doesn’t always have economic benefits. When there are more people under one roof, costs associated with food and utilities may skyrocket. If overall household income isn’t increasing, this may lead to serious financial strain.
  • Quality of Life Changes: With more people around, you can expect an increase in noise, clutter, and inconvenience. For example, there may be a higher demand for hot water for morning showers. There will also be less privacy and fewer opportunities for quiet time.
  • Decision-Making Challenges: When it’s just you and your partner, it’s easier to make household decisions and rules. With other adults around, especially parents, you may have your decisions questioned. Establishing boundaries and maintaining respect are crucial for multigenerational living situations. 

Other Things To Ponder

As you’re planning for the future, talk with your partner about what a multigenerational household would look and feel like. You may find your current situation would be untenable if a parent or adult children were to move in. The Pew Research Center found that multigenerational homes were more common in the western states than in other parts of the country. Maybe you need to change location to make this type of household work. Consider moving to a new home that includes an in-law suite, extra bedrooms, and multiple living spaces.

Sharing a home means thinking about what the future may bring for your household. Given the increase in multigenerational homes over the past half-century, you and your spouse may add to that number. It’s important to consider the challenges as well as the potential benefits for you as individuals, for you as a couple, and for your household.

Category: Society


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