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Is Multi-Generational Living for You?

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Many children grow up and leave home, but some families find themselves living together under one roof again later in life. According to the Pew Research Center, households with three or more generations – for example, a grandparent, an adult child and a grandchild of any age – housed 28.4 million people in 2016.

Two-thirds (67 percent) of North American homeowners between ages 55 and 75 surveyed by Home Instead, Inc., franchisor of the Home Instead® network, believe that loneliness or isolation impacts their decision in some way on where to live while aging.

Two considerations come to mind when determining whether families should live under one roof, according to Dan Bawden, founder of the national Certified Aging in Place Specialists (CAPS) program for the National Association of Home Builders:

  1. Make sure your family gets along well, Bawden noted. "You don't want to be dealing with poisonous personalities." Even if personalities mesh, you will want to make sure everyone in the family has their own space for privacy. "The best set-up is separate quarters. Another option is an attached or detached apartment off the back of the house, preferably on ground level. One situation I advised on is an 85-year-old widow who was living in a 2,800 square-foot home. The adult child is married with three children, and while Mom wanted them to move into her home, she did not anticipate the chaos of three small children. In that case, we added an apartment on the back of the home that has a door that closes off the house. She can be alone or engage with family." Building costs will vary by geography.

    No budget to remodel or add on? Look for ways to partition off the house, even if it is simply to create private space in the bedroom.

  2. The second consideration is household finances. "Make sure there is enough income between family members so all bills can be paid," noted Home Instead Gerontologist and Caregiver Advocate Lakelyn Hogan. "You must ensure that the needs of Mom and Dad moving back in or adult children moving in can be taken care of in terms of food and shelter."

    See a financial planner about the best way to set up a budget. Some experts advocate maintaining separate bank accounts, much like you would if you were living with a roommate. For example, write two checks to the mortgage company or alternate paying the mortgage each month. The same for living expenses. Consider creating a common fund for household costs.

Learn more about the financial ramifications of multi-generational living.

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Last revised: February 26, 2019

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