Once a staple of pre-World War II culture, the multi-generational household is staging a comeback.
The trend, which has young adults boomeranging back into their parents’ houses and aging parents moving in with their grown children and grandchildren, not only is changing the way people live, it’s also impacting the way home builders build.
House layouts designed for multiple generations co-existing under one roof place a heightened priority on more private areas for independent living. Some designs offer two master suites, while others feature a den or a family room that can be converted into a bedroom and bathroom on the first floor. Still others include additional flex spaces to accommodate a wide variety of situations.
According to Pew Research survey findings, multi-generational living has been on the rise since the Great Recession, when census data shows such households rose by 2.6 million people between 2007 and 2008. As of 2008, a record 49 million Americans, or 16.1 percent of the U.S. population, were part of a living situation containing at least two adult generations or a grandparent and at least one other generation, Pew Research Center reports.
Reasons for the increase include a number of societal, cultural and economic influences, including single adults waiting longer to marry; an influx of immigrants continuing the multi-generational family traditions common in their native countries; and job transitions, financial pressures and home foreclosures brought on by the recession.
While multi-generational living certainly has its challenges, for the most part, the Pew research reveals those who live with extended family find more positives than negatives:
• Among the 29 percent of young adults ages 25-34 who’ve been in that situation in recent years, 78 percent say they’re satisfied with their living arrangement.
• Young adults ages 18-24 tend to give the most upbeat reports of how living at home has enhanced their relationship with their parents.
• Adults ages 65 and older who live with others reportedly are in better health and less likely to feel sad, depressed or lonely.
Perhaps the best advice for multiple generations living under one roof comes from AARP. “Make memories,” the organization advises. “Capitalize on the opportunities you have with multiple generations in the household. Have fun and treasure the time.”
• Andy Warren is president of Maracay Homes, the Arizona subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company. He serves on the board of directors for the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona and Greater Phoenix Leadership; as well as the board of directors and as an executive committee member with the Greater Phoenix Economic Council. He is also an active member of the Urban Land Institute.