With housing and living costs being what they are, there’s a growing trend towards multigenerational living. This is a trend that has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic and issues with nursing homes.
In fact, one in six homebuyers during the pandemic purchased a multigenerational home, up from one in ten.
Why Choose a Multigenerational Home?
Cost is the primary reason for moving generations under one roof. One household costs less than half what two households cost. Other reasons include ensuring that older members are properly taken care of, sharing resources and responsibilities, and strengthening the bond of a family.
A well-designed multigenerational home does not mean that you lose independence and privacy, nor should it end up with people becoming full-time caregivers against their will. In fact, multigenerational living reduces that risk by having multiple people present at all times.
What Makes a Good Multigenerational Home?
The traditional image of a multigenerational home is the main house with a “granny flat” or “in-law flat.” While auxiliary dwelling units are certainly an option, a really good multigenerational home is a bit more than just putting “mom” in an outbuilding. It should include:
- Modern, accessible kitchens and bathrooms. All bathrooms should be accessible. Sinks should not have cabinets under them if anyone is in a wheelchair (or likely to be needing one). Traditional tub and showers can be switched for walk-in showers. The bathroom assigned to the older members should be large enough to allow for assistance. Kitchens can have accessibility features such as motorized countertops and cabinets.
- A family communication center. Whether it’s a low-tech whiteboard or a smart appliance with a message board. The kitchen is a great location for this.
- Space for everyone’s stuff. When somebody moves in, they may need to downsize, but make sure they have enough space to keep the things which really matter to them. Let each family member have free rein on decorating their bedroom.
- Safer stairs, doorways, etc. Doorways should be wider than 40 inches. Bannisters should be painted in contrasting colors so they are easy to see.
- A plan that allows for privacy. Some people love open plan homes, but when everyone is forced to be in the same “great room,” tempers can fray. Choose a home with more smaller, purpose-built spaces. Make sure that everyone who needs a private office has one.
- A hangout space for children and teens that is a bit away from the house (a garage is ideal) or otherwise insulated. Also, put children and teens as far away from grandparents as possible so they aren’t keeping each other awake. Teens and elderly people often have not very compatible sleep schedules.
An ADU, again, is a great option for some families. It allows the person who moved back in to have their own place, and typically ADUs lack stairs and other issues. Make sure that local zoning rules allow it.
Not many homes are designed with this in mind, so be aware that you might have to do some renovation, come up with creative storage solutions, or even build an extension or ADU.
Disadvantages of Multigenerational Living
Multigenerational living is not for everyone. First of all, people need to be comfortable living together and there needs to be no resentment. Resentment can happen in all directions. The person who moves in, whether an adult child after college or an elderly relative, may resent what they see as a loss of independence. The family can end up resenting the extra work that person makes, whether it’s real or not. Kids may feel that it’s unfair that they have to “look after” grandparents.
Other disadvantages include:
- Insufficient storage space, resulting in conflict over what can be kept and what can’t.
- Difficulty finding a well-designed space, as mentioned above.
- A higher price tag, which may be made up for by the lower costs, but it also may not.
But for those who do like the idea of living with multiple family members, the Path and Post team can help with the transition of moving into the right home. We have an intimate knowledge of the north metro Atlanta market, and we can help you find the perfect home for your multigenerational family, with enough privacy and storage space for everyone. Contact us to find out how we can help.