Multi-generational living is making a comeback. In fact, according to a Pew Research Center survey taken in 2016, it's now more popular than it was at any point during the 20th century. Survey statistics showed a record 20% of US residents, approximately 64 million people, lived in households with more than two generations.
There are a few different types of multi-generational homes. The most popular makeup includes two adult generations, defined as parents and their adult children 25 or older. The second-most common arrangement is a three-generation household, usually grandparents, parents, and grandchildren.
If you’re in the market for a home, a new construction purchase will grant you the most flexibility in selecting designs. That flexibility is, of course, absolutely necessary if your family is rather large—or growing! Families come in many different forms, and the multi-generational living arrangement can be made to suit almost any of them with the right planning.
The Benefits of Multi-generational Homes
1. A multi-generational home lets you adapt to life's unexpected changes.
If you don't have a multi-generational lifestyle—maybe you don't have kids or your parents are still fully independent—it's easy to wonder why you should buy or build a multi-generational home.
The thing about home-buying, though, is that it's long-term. Multi-generational homes let you be more flexible in your future planning and adapt to changes in your family situation as they come.
If you start a family and need childcare, a multi-generational home lets you welcome grandparents in as caregivers, or space to host an au pair. When your children graduate from college, they can save money by moving back home—and they’ll still have their own space. The options are nearly endless, and the flexibility of new construction means that you can choose just the right setup.
2. You can create a home that's perfect for your family.
When you're buying new construction, you can design your multi-generational home to suit your family's specific needs.
One option is to build a full in-law apartment, known in the industry as an “accessory dwelling unit.” This apartment can be:
- Fully integrated into the main house, typically in the basement or attic
- Attached to the main house with a single shared wall
- Built on the property as a stand-alone structure
You can even design your new home to be a two-family or semi-detached home, giving family members even more privacy.
3. Generations learn to help each other.
Many families invite grandparents to share a multi-generational home to help with childcare, and the financial benefit to parents can be enormous. A 2017 MarketWatch study showed that parents spend an average of $9,000 to $9,600 on daycare for one child.
Experts estimate that a married couple making the national median income—about $87,750—will spend 10.6% of their income on childcare. That's more than 3% above what the Department of Health and Human Services recommends.
When you have multiple generations under one roof, you have a lot more flexibility when it comes to childcare.
This applies to elder care as well. Assisted living costs an average of $4,000 a month nationally and almost $10,000 in some states. Nursing homes can be even more. In a multi-generational home, everyone can share care-giving responsibilities.
4. The extra living space could generate income.
There may be periods in your family's life when you don't need space for more than one or two generations. In those cases, you can rent out the extra space, either to a tenant or through a platform like Airbnb.
A Final Word
Building a multi-generational home lets you prepare for your family's future, whatever form it may take. Sure, there will be adjustments to be made, but isn't that what family life is all about?