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.”
The number of multigenerational apartment homes in the United States has grown in recent years. According to Pew Research Center, the number of people in the country living in multigenerational homes has reached more than 64 million. That figure represents roughly 20 percent of the population.
The reason for the growth of combined households? Economic factors 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.
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.
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.
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.