GreenTree Blog

How to Make Multigenerational Housing Work

We, as human beings by nature, have always been dependent on extended family–a notion we’re beginning to move back to.  A growing share of American households have three of more generations of the same family living under the same roof.  Typical situations include grandparents who need extra help, young adults moving home after college and of course, mortgage paying parents. Extended families are increasingly motivated to live together are a way to deal with housing affordability (or lack of).  Combine that with cultural and social forces and you get a whole new set of criteria and needs for buying a new home.

Ask yourself if this situation is long-term or short term.  If your debt-saddled millennial is moving back in because they can’t afford a home of their own just yet, the situation is likely to be short term.  When adult parents move in with their children–for health reasons, say–the situation is likely to be without an end date.  Then it may be worth moving into a more suitable home or making the renovations to your existing home to make it more comfortable for everyone living there.

The key to making all adults in a home feel comfortable is to insure that everyone has a place to retreat to that’s all their own.  There’s a lot of Home TV about knocking down walls and making open concept living spaces, but that may not make sense for multi-generational homes.  Many new home builders have optional bedroom quarters downstairs, even casitas, which make for great in-law suites with ensuite baths.  For long-term situations, consider flexible spaces.  An upstairs loft can be a play room for toddlers now, and an additional bedroom conversion for a grandparent 10 years from now.

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