Bring your whole family together
It used to be that raising a family in the United States meant living under one roof until the children were old enough to go to college, leaving parents with an “empty nest.” However, the 2008 recession shook up this model when an increased number of college graduates, who couldn’t afford to live on their own, moved back home. The empty nest then became a multigenerational home; that is, a home with two or more adult generations under one roof, including grandparents, parents, and adult children.
According to the Pew Research Center, 64 million people live in multigenerational households across the country, with a significant rise in racially diverse communities. Even former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama had a multigenerational arrangement with her mother during the presidency.
As the numbers rise, Asian, Hispanic, and African-American families are more likely to live in a multigenerational household, citing factors like familial closeness, generational cultural norms, economic necessity, or disability of a family member. In California, real estate companies like Lennar’s Next Gen are providing two homes under one roof as a flexible option for multigenerational families. The floor plan includes both the main home and a private, separate unit for parents or grandparents to stay nearby.
In addition to the economic benefits of sharing expenses with other family members, living under one roof might lead to welcome benefits for all members (despite the loss of privacy). According to a recent study, after a nearly century-long trend of single-family homes, people are moving toward multigenerational household setups. The researchers found that people living in a two-generation household live longer than healthy people who live on their own.
If just the thought of merging your family under one roof seems exhausting, we don’t blame you. Open communication about space and finances are key to a successful arrangement. Being around your family may not always be easy, but it does come with quite a few benefits for all involved:
- More affordable childcare. A report from the California Budget & Policy Center shows that childcare can be the second-highest expense in a two-parent family after housing. Having able grandparents living under your roof can ease those expenses and help strengthen your financial situation.
- Reduce injury and loneliness for older family members. As your grandparents or parents get older, living alone may cause physical and emotional stress. While there are remote care options, being able to take care of older parents within your own home may be easier depending on their ailments. In addition, being surrounded by family and friends can lead to a decrease in depression and extend good health and lifespan for older family members, according to a study from the University of Michigan.
- Longer lifespan for healthy people. People living with parents or grandparents can experience longer life. Researchers explained that “multigenerational living arrangements might improve financial resources, buffer stress, reduce loneliness, and enhance intellectual sharing, thereby elevating the level of one’s health.” With 43% of seniors saying that they experience loneliness on a regular basis, putting them at risk of depression, being surrounded by family can be vital to their health.
- Strengthen generational relationships. Established traditions and family rituals can be passed down to younger generations living in the household due to direct exposure to their grandparents. For many families, including those from immigrant communities, learning from their elders is vital to preserving their heritage. A study by Oxford University showed that British children who have a strong bond with their grandparents have fewer emotional and behavioral problems.
While multigenerational living may come with its ups and downs, the health, emotional, and monetary benefits outweigh the cons for many Californians. In a Generations United survey (PDF, 2MB), 72% of participants agreed that multigenerational living improved the financial standing of at least one family member. Whether it’s you and your adult children or your own parents, don’t overlook the benefits of moving everyone under one roof, at least for a little while.
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