According to research, more homeowners are finding that a happier, more practical home is one where everyone—parents and grown kids included—is welcome. 

By Laura Kostelny
September 03, 2020
Advertisement

If you go back 20 years or so, the phrase “multigenerational living” might have conjured up images of a fun-loving cousin, probably pushing 30, who refuses to move out of his parents’ basement. Grown kids bunking up with their parents was, once upon a time, the type of behavior that might inspire a punchline. But, according to research, as more people search for solutions in an uncertain, COVID-era economy, inviting aging parents—and, yes, grown kids, too—home to live with you is becoming increasingly normal. 

Multigenerational living, technically defined as three generations living under one roof, isn’t exactly new. Even in 2016, when a world-wide pandemic seemed like the stuff of cinema, more than 64 million people—or 20 percent of the U.S. population—resided in multigenerational households. That’s five percent more than in 2000, according to PEW Research. You can blame the steady increase over the past decade on practicality: As the Baby Boomer generation continues to age, health issues may increasingly require in-home care from family members. On top of that, the “boomerang generation” of 20-somethings are getting married later and saddled with post-college debt, which means returning home to save money makes sense. For those with younger kids, multigenerational living can also make a household run more smoothly, as parents and grandparents can take an all-hands-on-deck approach to everything from mortgages and bills to household chores and child rearing. 

In the COVID era, where sheltering in place and distance learning are the norm, the benefits of sharing space can seem particularly useful and potentially healthier to those with aging parents whose alternative is group living facilities. This decision also gives the adult children that peace of mind of knowing that Mom and Dad are close by, properly cared for, and staying connected to their family. That’s why even more people seem to now be considering multigenerational housing—and, apparently, rethinking their current digs to accommodate it. According to the National Association of Realtors, pending home sales have risen more than 16 percent from May to June—the largest monthly jump ever recorded. And among the most common quality buyers seem to be looking for is more space. Big families are on the lookout for more square footage, thoughtful floorplans, dedicated workspaces for both adults and small children, multiple entrances, and other extended family-friendly features.

But of course, a market once fueled by single-family buyers only has so much inventory for the multigen set. Thankfully, there’s a whole host of thoughtful architectural plans—like the Whiteside Farm plan by Southern Living—for those looking to upsize, which are intentionally designed for grandparents and small children alike with adult-only wings, in-law suites, multiple living areas, and tons of bathrooms. 

And just like that, living under one roof with Mom and Dad—or your five rambunctious grandkids—isn’t seeming all that bad after all.