In 2014 over 50 million Americans lived in homes occupied by at least three generations of family. The most common combination of children, parents, and grandparents has increased since the recession, placing young adults back under the roof of their parents due to the high cost of living. Older family members are also opting to settle back in with their children and grandchildren as opposed to moving into a nursing home. This means that the people living in one house could be anywhere between the ages of 5 and 75 or over. So how do these families make it work? And what kind of house is best for this kind of situation?
For the family looking to host multiple generations without an expensive remodel, the best option may be to purchase a newer, larger property. In-Law suites are not uncommon in the housing market, but it may take some time to find one that’s the right fit for an individual family’s needs. By giving the grandparents their own living space complete with a full kitchen, bathroom, and living room, they’ll feel like they’re living in their own apartment. This also gives them the freedom to feel independent while still having contact with the rest of the family at close quarters.
The key to making multigenerational living work is space. Nobody wants to feel cramped or on top of someone else in their own home. Things like reading nooks, a finished basement, outdoor living space, or a private office all contribute to making a house feel like it has something to offer to everyone. Every parent feels like they need some personal quiet time to themselves, just like kids enjoy playtime on their own. A space that’s open and caters to the needs of every individual family member will host every generation with ease.
Of course, if a new home isn’t in the budget, there are always ways to remodel an existing home to fit the needs of multiple generations. The best changes are ones that will add space without detracting from the overall value of the house.
“We really can detract from or add to the property’s resale value as well as to its appeal for future buyers by how we design modifications for accessibility,” says architect and accessible design expert Deborah Pierce. “You want to make the kinds of improvement that will increase the [home’s] property value. It needs to be universally designed, which means it’s flexible space that can be used for a variety of purposes.”
There are plenty of ways to make one roof feel like home to an every family member living under it. Multigenerational living in America isn’t a new concept by any stretch of the imagination, and for some people, it’s the best option for their family as a whole. Millions have made it work and millions more will do the same for generations to come.