Is your household growing? In 2021, roughly 10% of homebuyers purchased what’s called a multi-generational home. In fact, over the last 10 years, the number of people living in a multi-generational family-household has quadrupled.
This article explains what a multi-generation home is and the pros and cons are of living in one.
What is a Multi-generational Home?
A multi-generational home is a dwelling where two or more adult generations live together. This arrangement could include any combination of siblings, parents, grandparents, grand children and/or adult children living together. The reason families typically opt in for living together in this arrangement is to save money on housing costs and to save on general everyday expenses.
If you are living in a home and have more family members coming to live with you but not enough space, it might be a good idea to start considering buying a larger multi-generational house. There are many benefits to doing so.
Benefits to a Multi-generational Home
In today’s economy, where aging parents are looking to downsize and growing families are looking to expand their living space, it may make financial sense to share a generational home.
Splitting the monthly costs of a larger house between its adult occupants means everyone is on title and sharing the weight of the mortgage payments every month. Agreements can be made so that everyone pays their fair share of the utility bills and other day-to-day maintenance. But that’s not the only reason to purchase a multi-generation home. The following are a few more reasons:
- Aging parents can move in with their children.
- Adult children may move back home for a bit – e.g., after college or after a divorce.
- There’s more room to accommodate a live-in nanny or housekeeper.
- Family members with special needs are close which makes it easy to help them.
- Relatives and friends can stay for extended visits.
Consider Different Layouts, Living Arrangements & House Plans
Home builders nowadays are creating floor plans for this exact purpose. You may see newly constructed homes that offer separate entrances and living spaces so that each generation has their own private living spaces. Note that the generational home doesn’t necessarily need to be a new build house to accommodate your growing family. A large-sized home of any age can accommodate the needs of multiple families especially if it has lots of features.
Walk-out and walk-up basements – aka separate entrances
One of the most common features that multi-generational homebuyers look for are walk-out and walk-up basements. Why and what’s the difference?
- A walk-out basement means there are doors leading directly to the back yard or side of the house. Usually these homes are built on a slope so the basement door is level with the ground outside.
- A walk-up basement means there is a set of stairs in the side of the house or the backyard—or even sometimes through the garage—that lead down to a separate basement entrance.
By having a separate entrance, you can set up fully private living quarters that grandparents or young adults can enter without disturbing the rest of the household occupants.
Some multi-gen homes aren’t set up as separate units at all and that works great for many families too. When grandparents, adult children and grandchildren share the entire home, there’s room for great bonding, storytelling and years of memory-making. Only you and your family knows what will work best for your entire family and everyone’s budget.
An in-law suite is where there are self-contained living spaces that come complete with a kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom and a living room. In-law suites are a huge plus for multi-generational families. In-law suites (or granny suites) are mini apartment-style set-ups which are great for those looking for a feeling of privacy and living quietly.
Our team of Realtors® recommend that buyers look for homes that have full egress windows installed for extra safety, especially if they live in the basement and there are more than one person that accesses the unit as per their fire escape plan. It’s even better to find a home with a guest house or self-contained unit above the garage.
You can ask your real estate agent to set up a search for properties that include a pre-built in-law suite, accessory building or even a multi-residential home where your loved ones can be close-by. You can even refine your search for semi-detached or duplex homes to get better results.
You can also use our property search tool to find a multi-generational home that suites you and your family’s specific needs and criteria.
Arrangement of shared spaces
Before choosing a multi-gen home, consider what areas will beed to be shared in the home. It’s important to find out some of the following:
- Are there enough laundry rooms or will everyone be fighting for the washer and dryer? You may want write up a schedule for washing and drying times that everyone agrees on so that everyone has access when they need it..
- You should also take into account the electricity rates during peak times of the day.
- Find out if the kitchen will be shared or if there are two or more. Who will be responsible for cooking dinner, buying groceries and doing dishes?
These are a few of the facets of the living arrangement that should be determined before putting in any offers.
What Makes a Successful Multi-Gen Home
The overwhelming majority of people living in a multi-generational home environment say it works well and that it functions successfully. There are many reasons for this success that boil down to three main criteria: family relationships, the design of the home, and support for each other.
With everyone living under one roof these families develop a high level of attachment and closeness to each other. Here’s how:
- Older family members serve as role models for young children through daily interactions—teaching them respect and how to connect with their elders.
- Loneliness is a common social problem for the elderly but through daily activities with family members in a multigenerational home, grandparents experience a better quality of life.
- Instead of only seeing family members on special occasions, they live day-to-day with each other and experiencing life together.
- Financial burdens are reduced because everyone contributes to the household which makes this an excellent option for young adults who’ve just graduated from school, or seniors on a fixed income looking to reduce monthly costs.
- For younger family members, physical work like mowing the lawn or maintaining the pool is a good trade-off so that allows the older generation to focus on less physically demanding chores.
Your family’s needs are unique. If you and your loved ones are considering the exciting life of living in a multi-generation home, we’d love to help by going through all the options available to you, and to help you find the home that works best for you and your family.