A Look Inside Living In A Multigenerational Home
Author: Carla Ayers
In the last 5 decades, the number of Americans living with multiple generations under one roof has quadrupled, according to the Pew Research Center. More than 59 million people live in multigenerational households or a home that includes two or more adult generations. Whether it's parents and adult children or a "skipped generation" consisting of grandparents and their grandchildren, these homes offer a unique dynamic that can be both rewarding and challenging.
If you have a client considering a change in their living arrangement or you’re just curious about multi-generational living, read on to learn more about the rise in popularity of multigenerational living, a few of the advantages and disadvantages one might experience, and how to help your client take on this new adventure.
Most Multigenerational Homes Today Are Made Up Of Parents and Adult Children
To get a better understanding of what it’s like living in a multigenerational home, Rocket Mortgage® Research conducted a survey of those who live in a home defined as multigenerational.
When asked about the familial makeup of the people in their home, respondents said parents and adult children were the most common familial roles represented. Those who participated in the survey were able to choose multiple answers, revealing an interesting trend in the data. Adults living in a multigenerational home may identify with multiple familial roles, like adult child and sibling.
While many family members may take on the responsibility of multiple familial roles, everyone plays an important part in living communally. Of those surveyed, 60.9% identified their primary role as a parent or parental figure and 35.6% identified as an adult child. Just 3.5% of those surveyed identified their main role as a grandparent or grandparental figure.
On average, multigenerational homes consist of about four people. As one can imagine, the age range within these households can be quite diverse, with an average age gap of almost 40 years between the oldest and youngest members. Often, as many as four generations live together in one home. Many individuals surveyed have been living in multigenerational homes for a significant portion of their lives, with 31.7% of respondents reporting a lifelong experience in this type of living situation. It’s evident that multigenerational living is not limited to any particular age group but encompasses individuals from various stages of adulthood.
When asked about religion, 61.2% of respondents identified as Christian. It's worth noting that a considerable portion of respondents did not identify a religion, as 15.9% reported being nonreligious and 11.4% identified as other or prefer not to say. This diverse religious landscape reflects the inclusive nature of multigenerational homes.
Almost Half Of Multigenerational Homes Today Are Driven By Financial Need And Benefit
Those who participated in the survey were able to choose up to three answers when asked why they live in a multigenerational home. The following are the top three reasons from respondents.
- 48.8% said home affordability and saving money were their main concern when choosing where and how to live.
- 31.2 % of those surveyed said they wanted to spend more time with family.
- 27.9% said providing care for older family members was a significant factor.
Of the 48.8% who said financial reasons were the main reason for multigenerational living, housing costs were the predominant concern. In fact, 40.2% of those respondents attributed their decision to share a home with family to either: the expensive housing market in their area (21.6%) or the need for multiple incomes to afford their home (18.6%). Meanwhile, 33.9% said saving money is too difficult without the additional support of multiple incomes supporting the household. Interestingly, only 5.2% of those surveyed cited reduced cost of older adult care as a primary factor and just 2.5% cited childcare as their main motivation (7.7% in total).
Living In A Multigenerational Home Can Come With Its Own Set Of Challenges
Living in a multigenerational home has its advantages and challenges like any other type of housing situation. If your clients are new to sharing their living space with multiple people under one roof, communication will be key to finding common ground and living in relative peace – pun intended. If they treasure their privacy and enjoy quiet evenings alone reading a good book, they may want to research other housing arrangements where they can control their level of solitude and comfort without interruption or consideration of others’ opinions. While those in this living situation did find benefits, 56.5% of survey respondents said they would prefer to live alone in their own home or with their immediate family only, if given the choice.
Obviously, there are drawbacks to living with others. When it comes to challenges, 26.4% of respondents said privacy concerns are common. Additionally, 19.9% chose differences in opinions and beliefs as their primary frustration when living in a large family home. To manage privacy and personal space in daily life, 47.6% of those surveyed emphasized the importance of respecting each other's privacy.
Parent’s and Adult Children’s Opinions Of Household Dynamic Differ Drastically
Overall, when it comes to the opinions of parents and adult children, a significant portion of respondents reported no noticeable changes in their family dynamics since living in a multigenerational household. Similarly, over half of the participants claimed neither positive nor negative effects on their mental health. However, when we separate and break down the opinions of parental adults and adult children regarding multigenerational living, we did find some intriguing differences.
Of the parental adults surveyed, 30% said the greatest advantage of living in a multigenerational home is the increased time spent with their family. Parental adults are more likely to experience positive improvement with their mental health and intergenerational relationships compared to adult children when living with extended family.
Of adult children surveyed, 30% identified shared financial responsibility of the household expenses as the greatest advantage of their multigenerational living arrangement. 13.1% felt not being able to branch out and explore other opportunities was the biggest disadvantage for them living in a multigenerational home. Unlike the parental adults surveyed who felt positive effects on their mental health, adult children are more likely to feel the opposite.
Advice For Those Considering Living In A Multigenerational Home
For clients contemplating living in a multigenerational home, they might want to consider the advice shared by those who have experienced this living arrangement firsthand. Tell them to talk to their friends and family to get their perspective. Knowing what potential problems could lie ahead will help them determine if they’re ready to take on those challenges. Below are four tips to provide to help them improve their experience living in a multigenerational home.
- Establish clear rules and boundaries.
- Always strive to respect each other’s opinions and perspectives.
- Practice patience when interacting with one another.
- Build strong relationships so you can trust each other.
The Bottom Line
Living in a multigenerational home offers a unique and diverse living arrangement for clients, bringing together different generations under one roof. While financial reasons drive many individuals to embrace this lifestyle, the desire for increased family time and care for older family members also plays a significant role.
Multigenerational living comes with its own set of challenges, including privacy concerns and differences in opinions, but managing these issues through respect and open communication can lead to successful cohabitation. Embracing multigenerational living can provide valuable support, shared experiences and a sense of togetherness for all family members involved.
To understand the lives of the 18% of the US population living in multigenerational homes, Rocket Mortgage surveyed 750 adult Americans that live with grandparental figures and/or are 25 years old or older living with parental figures. Multigenerational home residents were asked about the makeup of their household, religious affiliations, familial roles, and household dynamic. They were also asked about the reasons why they live in multigenerational homes including the advantages and disadvantages. This survey was conducted May 4, 2023.
This article was originally posted on RocketMortgage.com.