The economy has hit many hard.
Retirees have seen their investments drop leaving them with less money to pay their living expenses and ever rising medical and prescription costs.
College students struggle to pay their college and living expenses while not going too deeply in student loan debt.
Meanwhile, the so called sandwich generation, those who have elderly parents who need support as well as children that also need support, struggle to make ends meet and take care of both generations while also saving for their own retirement.
Multi-Generational Living: Coming Back in Style
The idea of generations living together is not new. One hundred to one hundred and fifty years ago, 3 generations living together was quite common.
Yet, as our society changed and people became more independent, multi-generational living fell out of vogue. It is no longer necessary, so most people don’t do it.
However, the current economy has changed the most recent housing dynamic.
Due to the recession, parents worry that their adult children may move back in with them (as many have, sometimes with their own children in tow), and self-sufficient grown children worry that they may have to support their parents, especially if their parents have an insufficient retirement.
While some may be concerned about two or three grown generations living together, there is a group of Americans that are embracing multi-generational living. They find this situation beneficial for all ages, from the oldest to the youngest, both financially and emotionally.
“According to John Graham, co-author of Together Again, a book about multi-generational living, and Professor of Marketing and International Business at University of California Irvine, ‘We are seeing the nuclear family going back to the interdependence of the extended family. For the last 50 years the American ideal was the nuclear family living independently, but with the economic changes of recent decades that no longer is the solution of choice.’ He added, ‘Multigenerational living is very customary in most countries. It is now becoming much more common in the U.S.'” (MarketWatch).
As reported by ABC World News, “In 2010, 4.4 million homes had 3 or more generations living in them, a 30% increase from 10 years earlier.” Even more staggering, according to MarketWatch, “The number of multigenerational households has increased by 60% since 1990, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.”
The How of Multi-Generational Living
Those who are interested in multi-generational living face some tough financial decisions.
Should they renovate their home? Add on an addition? Find a new home that is better suited to the new living arrangement?
Unfortunately, each of these options can be costly and take quite a bit of time. One of the most common reasons for multi-generational living is that people are cash strapped, so paying for a fancy remodel or buying a new home is not typically an option.
People used to try to live together in their current home, a space often designed for just one family. This can make multi-generational living uncomfortable and annoying.
Another Option for a Home
As a more reasonable option, Lennar, a national home builder, recently introduced Next Gen homes. These homes are essentially homes within a home.
People can opt to leave their current home as is, and Lennar will seamlessly put a modular onto their home that can serve as a separate suite. A typical in-law or grown child suite has a bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette, and living area. It may have two entrances; one is an apartment entrance that is outside the main house, and the other is a door that leads directly into the main house.
This gives the other generation their own living quarters, privacy, and autonomy, in addition to all of the benefits of multi-generational living.
There are other options besides adding a modular addition to the home. One woman elected to buy a small, prebuilt cottage to put in her backyard for her aging mother.
While remodeling a home can be time consuming, these modular additions can be added on in 8 weeks. Even better, unlike an expensive addition, these modular additions cost less than half the price of a traditional addition.
The Why of Multi-Generational Living
There are many reasons families choose multi-generational living, but the two most common are to save money and to provide more care and support for aging parents.
Multi-Generational living allows all family members to pool their resources together.
Rather than paying two or three different house and utility payments (if each of the adult generations had their own home), they can pool their money together and pay just one house and utility payment. This can make living expenses substantially cheaper, which is attractive anywhere people live, but even more so if they live in a high cost of living area.
In addition, this helps relieve the stress for recent college graduates who may have expensive monthly loan payments, retirees who may not have enough retirement savings, and the sandwich generation who can make their own money stretch further when everyone is under one roof.
Finally, elders who may not be able to make their meals and do other routine daily tasks can get help from the younger generations in the home.
Lennar recognized a market need and is now offering popular modular home options.