Multigenerational Household: Trend or Necessity?

Is your family benefitting from living in a multigenerational household? Multigenerational living is nothing new in households whose cultures have traditionally embraced the lifestyle. But, today in the US, it’s a growing trend with over 57 million Americans living in an extended family home.

In the 1940s, the Depression-era peak was around 35 percent of the population, pointing to the economic conditions at the time. Now, with the Great Recession, many young people can’t find jobs, middle-class wages have declined for decades, and housing prices have nudged up beyond most singletons’ salaries.

Who is making up these households?

While economic factors play a major role in the creation of multigenerational households, there are other benefits for everyone involved. Who are the people making up the 57 million Americans living in these multigenerational households?

  • Baby boomers supporting their elderly parents and their adult children – the “sandwich” generation
  • The parents of baby boomers – the so-called silent generation.
  • College graduates moving back home – about one in four millennials.
  • Adults (ages 25 to 34) – factor large in the upswing to multigenerational living

Research has found that the vast majority of the millennial generation has found going back home to live to be a positive experience. This displays that the growing trend improves emotional well-being for many families and that the generations enjoy perks by living together.

More than a money factor

There’s a new understanding about the emotional and practical pay-offs that multigenerational households can deliver. Some of the reasons cited by those enjoying the benefits are:

  • Older and younger people can learn from one another.
  • Younger people can witness the changes that come with age.
  • With more hands in the kitchen, families can eat healthier.
  • Each generation can pass along knowledge and skills.
  • Younger family members can help their elders with new technology – social media, etc.
  • Older family members can contribute to and be a part of family life, giving peace of mind to adult children concerned about their health and safety.
  • The elderly are unlikely to be lonely – loneliness and depression increase chances of premature death.
  • Grandparents can provide care and guidance for younger children as they grow up.
  • Living with family can delay – and possibly avoid – the literal and emotional cost of a parent ending their days in a facility.

Other Perks

Often the most satisfying results of a multigenerational household is in the potential relationship between its youngest and oldest inhabitants. It allows kids get to spend everyday quality time with their grandparents or even great-grandparents.

There has been a sharp drop in the portion of young Americans who choose to settle down romantically before age 35, marriage is falling in popularity, with many people marrying later than ever before. This has lead in part, to an increase of single mothers, many of whom are choosing to live in their parents’ homes.

For those who grew up as part of an extended family home, the benefits are obvious; parents get free childcare, grandparents have a place to live and children grow up surrounded by those who love them.

Americans have been redefining family for decades with various permutations of multiple generations in one home. The current iteration of multigenerational living is only the latest twist.

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