Multigenerational households are on the rise in the U.S. Do you belong to a family that has several generations living together under one roof? Below are some ideas for enhancing your home to make this arrangement work successfully for everyone.
A dramatic change is quietly taking place in the make-up of the typical American household. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that since 1990 the number of multigenerational households has grown approximately 40 percent.
This nationwide shift is due to a number of factors, one of which is the rising cost of living. College debt has caused many young adults to move back home again after they graduate, even if they have good jobs. Single moms or dads have often decided to move in with their parents who can help provide less expensive childcare. Older adults are living with their children, rather than pay the high costs of an assisted living community.
If your family lives in a multigenerational household, it is probably for a variety of reasons. Families from ethnic groups such as Asians and Hispanics are more accustomed to multigenerational living, and often find it preferable. However, this lifestyle does present challenges, the greatest of which is to reach that delicate balance between privacy and togetherness.
One of the most successful strategies for optimizing multigenerational living is to create a separate, self-contained suite within the home. This concept is often referred to as a “home within a home.” These suites, regardless of size, offer everything necessary for independent living, including a small kitchen, bath, living area and bedroom. There may be a separate laundry area as well. Each suite has a separate outside entry so family members may come and go without disturbing each other, yet it shares an interior door with the main house. The suite may also share the back yard, or have its own small patio instead. This enables families to stay close, while individual members retain a greater degree of privacy.
Almost any home can be remodeled to include a separate suite. If you desire to stay within the confines of your home’s existing footprint, one option would be to combine a couple of adjoining bedrooms to create the necessary space. A professional remodeler can help you analyze any other underutilized areas in your home and consider whether they could be re-engineered to function as a suite. Of course, if you have space for an addition, this may give you the most flexibility.
Families who have added separate suites to their homes have been pleasantly surprised to discover how these suites can continue to meet their ever changing needs throughout the various stages of their lives.