If you have children living in your home that are over 25 years old, or if you’ve got three or more generations of people living under one roof, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re on trend! More and more relatives are living in a multi-generational configuration these days, and for a variety of reasons: Young adults are taking longer to complete college and/or choose a career; droves of mid-lifers have been hit so hard by the recession that they’re moving in with their parents; people in general are living longer, and to maximize a fixed income after retirement, it makes sense for some older couples to live with relatives.
What impact does this trend have on the housing industry? Lots, actually. Builders who are tuned in to this trend are specializing in homes built to accommodate multi-generational situations and make them as comfortable and functional as possible, even with their unique needs. What are the most important things to consider?
• Space: Let’s face it, we like our space. Whatever the composition of a multi-generational home, giving each “people unit” their own personal space–or a sense of it–is going to be a key factor for many. A mother-in-law apartment that’s completely separate from the main home is a popular option, but a separate “wing” of a home can also provide privacy. In a home that’s simply too small to offer a true sense of separation, people may need to work out details for using common rooms, such as who’s cooking when and who gets dibs first on the TV on Friday nights.
• Special accommodations: For those who open their homes to aging relatives, making the home accessible and user-friendly will probably require several kinds of unique accommodations, such as a street-level entry or a wheelchair ramp, wider doorways, wheelchair accessible counters and sinks, grab bars in the bathroom, and perhaps even an elevator.
• Parking: More adults usually means more vehicles. Where are all of these vehicles going to go? How many vehicles will your garage handle? How many vehicles do you want your garage to handle? As an alternative, temporary carports (a sort of “tent” for a vehicle) can provide protection for vehicles that don’t fit in a crowded garage.
• Storage: More adults usually means more stuff too, so storage will be an important consideration. If the combined stuff simply won’t fit into a multi-generational home, sharing the cost of a rented storage unit is a great solution.
• Care for elderly parents: As nice as it sounds to take in aging parents, people are often not trained to truly meet the needs of aging people, and it can take an enormous amount of time. Thankfully, many agencies offer in-home professional service providers to care for aging people who simply can’t function on a daily basis without help.
Whatever your situation, make the most of it, enjoy the people in your life while they’re near, and laugh as often as you can.