Steve Harper

Is your apartment home to a diverse household where parents, kids and grandparents all live together?


Multigenerational apartment living gives new meaning to the phrase “one big, happy family.”

While this is not a unique phenomenon for today, changing and often uncertain economic conditions do set the stage for the benefits and challenges of multigenerational living under one roof.

Changing home life
The number of multigenerational apartment homes in the United States has grown in recent years. The U.S. Census Bureau recorded more than 4.3 million multigenerational households in 2010. That figure represents roughly 5.6 percent of the population — up from 3.7 percent in 2000.

The reason for the growth of combined households? Recession and a sluggish economy seem to be behind the growing trend. Many young people who’ve graduated from college find it difficult to secure a job; they are moving back to the family home before striking out fully on their own. Because of the sheer number of young people who return to the nest, this generation has earned the nickname the “Boomerang Generation.”

It’s not just young people driving the trend toward multigenerational living. Older adults who’ve been hit by unemployment — many of them unemployed for more than a year during the worst part of the Recession — are also moving back in with their Baby Boomer-generation parents.

Traditions, young and old
How do parents and children have the patience to live with each other? Well, economic trends aren't the only ones which have changed. Relationships between modern parents and children often more closely resemble friendships. Older and younger may more closely fit into similar peer groups, with parents and their adult kids seemingly having more to learn from one another to cope in a complex world.

It’s not only friendship or financial challenge that influence multiple generations to live together — in some cases, it’s tradition. Different cultural groups hold different values about shared households.

Home life links
Young Women Choose Apartment Living
Surprising New Trend in American Apartment Size
American Attitudes Transformed by Housing Crisis

multi-genaHappy Together? The Rise of Multigenerational Apartment Home LivingerationalBenefits of multigenerational home life
Besides being beneficial from a financial standpoint, multigenerational apartment living has several other advantages. On a practical level, having many family members around to help with childcare, chores and transportation is a boon. From an emotional support standpoint, multigenerational living also helps reduce depression. This is an especially important benefit for seniors, who are often prone to isolation and its negative effects. All age groups can benefit from a multigenerational support system, however.

Creating a multigenerational household
If you find yourself in a newly-created multigenerational household — or you’re considering the arrangement — AARP offers helpful tips and discussion points you may want to bring up with the other members of your family. As with any roommates — relative or not — conflicts can arise if roles and responsibilities aren’t clear. It’s best to discuss rules and boundaries to keep the lines of communication open. Watch out for power imbalances that might keep members of the household from living happily together.

Photo credits: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images, Junial Enterprises



About The Author

Steve Harper enjoys seeking out and writing about topics that matter to renters for the Apartment Guide Blog. He hails from Atlanta, Georgia. Find Steve on Google.