Balancing the Multigenerational Household
Balancing the Multigenerational Household
March 18, 2019
The American lifestyle is changing. In 2016, 64 million people—20% of the American population—were living in households made up of more than one adult generation. Grandparents who might have chosen assisted living are instead moving in with their children. Meanwhile, children are growing up but not necessarily moving out. Baker Residential understands that balancing the multigenerational household has its challenges.
Right now, we’re seeing the highest percentage of multigenerational living since 1950 when 21% shared a home. The Great Recession played a big factor in the rebound that was sparked in 2007. With rising healthcare costs for the elderly and the increase in housing costs, this scenario can be a great solution, as long as everyone understands how it works.
Start with an understanding
Understand the motivation for this living situation so that you can also set boundaries. Why have you decided to live together? Do you need to provide more care for aging parents? Is it too expensive for them to live independently? Are your now-adult children in a difficult financial situation—in between jobs, paying off debt—or trying to save money for their own place? Do you need help for young children and prefer to have a family member handle that responsibility?
If it’s a temporary situation, discuss the timeline at the outset. Create an action plan for meeting the goals to stay on track. For example, if someone needs to pay off a medical bill, how long will that take? How much can they afford to pay toward the debt each month? Monitor the progress and make adjustments if necessary, so that everyone has the same target.
Know your role
A household made up of several generations doesn’t mean the homeowner is responsible for everyone living there—a fact that they, themselves, need to accept. The more adults you have in one home, the more personalities you need to juggle.
Adult children don’t want to feel like kids, but they also need to accept adult obligations. The home isn’t a free pass to live independently. Instead, be clear that duties are shared. Distribute those tasks fairly and hold each person accountable. “It’s just easier to do it myself” doesn’t play well here.
Cleaning, laundry, cooking, taking out the trash, and running errands should not fall on one or two people. In fact, grandparents probably want to pitch in as much as possible, to maintain their sense of independence. Give them that “freedom” and you also gain your own.
Everyone wants privacy at certain times. Adults who are used to living on their own can find it difficult to move into a home with more people. Suddenly, you’re sharing the remote control, your favorite snacks, and a bathroom. The walls can feel like they’re closing in if people don’t learn how to share space and stuff.
You might need to invest in more televisions, headphones for the person who likes loud music, and another computer. That’s a small price to pay for peaceful cohabitation.
And if your bathrooms don’t already have locks, install them. No one likes an unwanted surprise in this room.
Money issues are one of the main causes of family arguments. A multigenerational household naturally incurs more expenses.The bills for groceries and utilities will go up. Make a plan that allows all adults to pitch in what they can. If someone doesn’t have the finances to contribute regularly, let them provide in-kind assistance, like babysitting, running errands, lawn care, car washing, and housecleaning.
Anger and resentment stem from expectations that aren’t met, and that happens when those expectations aren’t clearly communicated. Avoid uncomfortable situations by talking openly about the household bills and sticking to a plan to pay them.
Start with the right home
A multigenerational household requires a home that can comfortably accommodate everyone. Squeezing people into tight spaces is a recipe for disaster.
Baker Residential’s communities of luxury homes include many with first-floor master suites, perfect for elderly family members or those with disabilities. We can incorporate two master suites in our homes in the Research Triangle in North Carolina. Look at the homesites and floor plans for Weddington in Apex and Providence at Yates Pond in Cary, NC. Then talk to us about your ideas and needs. Let’s work together to build a happy household from the ground up.