You may have read in my About page that my husband and I live with my parents. My parents, hubby, and I have great relationships and most of the time we live rather peacefully in the house. We are currently in a rental home and it is quite large. So, it allows everyone to have their own space. We are in this house until my husband finishes his internship and we know whether we are moving to a different city or not. Many people think that us living with my parents is only temporary. For a large part of our marriage my hubby and I thought that as well. But, as time progressed, I started thinking about the future. This is where I started talking with my husband and parents about multigenerational living.
What is Multigenerational Living?
Multigenerational living is defined as, “including two or more adult generations, or including grandparents and grandchildren younger than 25” and 64 million Americans live in this kind of household (Cohn & Passel, 2018). This means that 1 in every 5 Americans lives in a multigenerational household.
Reasons for Multigenerational Households
There are numerous reasons why people choose to live in a multigenerational household. The most popular reasons include: slower starts, immigration, availability of kin, health and disability issues, and economic conditions (Generations United, 2019). People have slower starts because they are marrying later in life and possibly entering professional jobs later, so they are staying with their parents longer. Immigrants are more likely to live in multigenerational homes. More individuals in the Baby Boomer generation are financially secure and can take care of their aging parents as well as their own children. Many people of all ages are diagnosed with chronic conditions and move in with family to have access to a caregiver. Finally, after the most recent recession, many struggled with finances and moved in with family to help make things more manageable (Generations United, 2019).
Why We Are Living a Multigenerational Life
For our family, there are a couple reasons why we chose this lifestyle. Our reasons are: finances and a standard of living, caregiver on site, and keeping family connection.
The number one reason we chose this lifestyle is finances. As my husband advances in his career, we hope to be able to pay for half of all the utilities and half the mortgage of the next house we buy. This will help make our lives easier now and my parents’ lives easier later when their only income will be my dad’s retirement pay and Social Security. We are getting closer to that point in our lives as time goes on. In the year since my husband has started his internship we have paid of nearly all our debt and doubled our savings.
Standard of Living
Sharing the burden of the finances allows us all to live the way we want to. My parents never owned a home until my dad retired from the Air Force. A lot of that had to do with us moving so often, but their finances also did not make it feasible for them to own a home. I would rather not rent a home until my 50s like my parents did. My husband and I both would much rather start working towards a mortgage sooner rather than later. We also want certain things in the home that my husband and I simply cannot afford right now. I was by no means spoiled as a child, but my parents taught me to like some of the finer things in life. However, I want to live in a house that is built well and has a huge kitchen. I also want it large enough for a growing family that offers all the living space we will ever need/want. My parents want the same nice things my husband and I want in a home and want the security to be sure they will be able to afford it in the future. We will need a home with at least 3500 square feet with 5 beds, 4 baths, and 2 office spaces. Something that large will not be in my and hubby’s price range for a while and my parents won’t be able to afford it on their own come retirement. Therefore, sharing the load will be beneficial to all of us.
Wanting to Enjoy Life
My parents enjoy going on trips together and my husband and I hope to go on more trips in the future. Sharing the expenses of the household will allow us to save for trips more easily. We also won’t have to worry about finding a house sitter who would watch our dogs too. A multigenerational household will be a two-income household, even if I don’t ever earn any additional income, so we will not have to go without a lot. We can go out to eat a little more often, take the trips, or buy the nicer clothes or shoes without having any issues. The same goes for my parents. The best advantage is that we will all be able to put more money into savings for retirement or emergencies.
Having a Caregiver on Site
My mom has several chronic conditions. She is regularly at one clinic or another to help maintain her health. She gets periodic injections in her back and regular injections in her knees. Her chronic pain can flare up and become debilitating at times. My dad is a disabled veteran, but he still works full-time and travels for his job occasionally. I have taken on the role as the caregiver when they have their bad days.
My mom is very competent and able a lot of the time. However, when she is not at her best, I step in and pick up the slack. Our chores are rather evenly distributed in the house. My mom and I take turns preparing meals. My parents take care of their areas, my hubby and I take care of ours and share the load for common areas. But, when my mom is ill, I will step in and take up the slack. This doesn’t happen very often right now, but as my parents age I will need to do more for them.
My parents want to have someone they trust to take care of them as they age. That is what I will be doing. If my helping them becomes a regular part of my life, it should be less difficult later when my parents need more help. It will be gradual rather than a sudden life change.
Keeping a Family Connection
My parents and I are very close. For my entire life they have been my only constant. We moved 10 times in 18 years with the Air Force. So, while our locations changed, my family didn’t. My husband joined in as the only other person in my life I can truly depend on. Having us all live under the same roof (or on the same property) will allow us to continue to be a tight knit family. I hardly got to spend any time with my grandparents. We will more than likely be geographically separated from my hubby’s parents. I would like for our children to be close with at least one set of their grandparents.
Sure, we do not have to be living in the same household to be sure we stay close, but it really does help. Studies are starting to show that older people who get to spend time with their grandchildren live longer more productive lives and can reduce the chances of Dementia and Alzheimer’s (Lifeline Screening, n.d.).
Confronting the Stigma
There are a lot of people who look down on people who live multigenerational lives. Many believe that people would never choose to do so, but we have. Multigenerational living in America was once believed to be for the younger generation who have “messed up” in one way or another or are not productive members of society. That could be the case for some people, but not for everyone. There are so many cultures around the world whose norm is multigenerational living. I remember learning in our time in Korea where families often had grandparents living with them.
My husband and I are very goal oriented driven people, and we have decided to live differently than what others believe is the “right” way to live. This has caused people to judge us for our choices. Some have said that we just don’t really want to be grown up or are afraid of taking responsibility in life. That couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, we are taking on extra responsibilities in my opinion. All our choices in life will affect not only my husband and I, but our children and my parents.
It Must Be Working for Some People
There are 64 million people in the country who believe multigenerational living is right for them for one reason or another. It is becoming more popular as time goes on. In my research for our new forever home, I have found some companies such as Lennar homes who have floorplans specifically for multigenerational households. These homes can have two master suites or a home within a home where an efficiency apartment is under the same roof as the main house. Hopefully, with more positive representation and discussion on the topic, more people will be more open and accepting to the idea of multigenerational living.
This is Not New to Us
Multigenerational living is not new for my family. My grandfather was in the Air Force which meant that my dad moved a lot as a child as well. There was a time in my dad’s childhood where he lived with his parents, three siblings and grandparents. My mom was a single mother with my brother, and she lived with her mom and dad for a while. So, it isn’t weird for us. The only thing that is different for us is that we will find or build a house that will fit us all comfortably and we will live this way permanently.
Plans For the Future
My hubby has two years left in his internship. We should know if we are moving or not in the next year. We really would like to stay in San Antonio since we have roots here and really do love the area. But, if we have to move, we have to move. That is life. My hubby and I are saving money for the next house as well as my parents. We know it is going to be a huge investment because we are looking at buying or building a rather large house or a property with two homes on it. We are doing research on the best builders to build with and how we will be able to finance it all. There are still a lot of boxes to check off, but we are in a good spot right now.
Question of the Week
Do you think you could live a multigenerational life? If so, would you rather live with your parents or your spouse’s parents?
Cohn, D. V., & Passel, J. S. (2018, April 5). Record 64 million Americans live in multigenerational households. Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/04/05/a-record-64-million-americans-live-in-multigenerational-households/
Generations United. Multigenerational Households. Retrieved from https://www.gu.org/explore-our-topics/multigenerational-households/
Lifeline Screening. Babysitting Your Grandchildren Can Help Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk. Retrieved from https://www.lifelinescreening.com/health-education/healthy-living/babysitting-your-grandchildren-can-help-reduce-alzheimers-risk