If you’re considering sharing a home with extended family, you’re not alone. In the past 10 years, the number of families residing in a multigenerational household has nearly quadrupled, according to a study from Generations United. What’s more, 66% of that group stated that the economic climate was a factor in their new living arrangements.
How’s it working out so far? According to the majority of those surveyed, it’s working out just fine. There are significant benefits to multigenerational living, such as shared expenses, help with childcare and eldercare, and reduced loneliness.
At the same time, a multigenerational home poses a defined group of challenges. Here are some key things to consider before diving into this type of living arrangement.
Too Much Family Time
Yes, you can have too much of a good thing. While sharing a home with extended family can facilitate bonding, it also can make privacy feel like a long-lost luxury. Figure out a way for each generation to have their own “zone,” like an in-law suite or an area of a finished basement.
Grandma thinks Molly watches too much TV. Grandpa thinks Timmy needs more chores. And you think the grandparents need to get out more. Opinions and advice can be plentiful in in a multigenerational household. Emotional boundaries are just as important as physical ones, so make sure everyone communicates their needs and expectations up front to reduce resentment, tension, and hurt feelings.
Clutter and Mess
The more people that reside under one roof, the greater the clutter and mess. Prepare your home for the transition beforehand, decluttering and purging as much as possible. Consider how each generation will use a space and implement systems to establish certain rooms as multi-purpose. Add additional storage where needed so everyone has their own place for belongings without feeling like they’re encroaching on someone else’s.
Differing Design Preferences
Perhaps Grandpa’s favorite brown recliner doesn’t exactly “go” with your sleek and modern loving room. It’s important for everyone to feel comfortable living under the same roof so a bit of give and take is essential. Start by asking each family member to jot down the items they feel strongly about keeping and then develop solutions on how to reach common ground. For example, could the recliner go in his bedroom or into the less formal family room or rec room? If budget allows, hire an interior designer to combine clashing design aesthetics into a livable and appealing “something new.”
The High-Tech House
A high-tech automated home make may your life easier, but not every generation is comfortable using the latest and greatest technology. Make sure everyone is comfortable with using smart home features and consider opting out of those that you can live without.
Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen
Avoid mealtime struggles by having a weekly family meeting to talk about meals for the week, dividing responsibilities like shopping, prep work, cooking, and clean up. And be sure to account for dietary restrictions.
Accessibility Can be A Challenge
Ensuring a home is both accessible for older adults and childproof for the little ones takes a bit of creativity. In a perfect world, senior family members would have an entry level shower complete with a comfort-height toilet, grab bars, and nonslip flooring. Children’s toys can be a trip and fall hazard, as well. Designating an area for playtime and staying organized is essential, as is locking away medications and cleaners from reach of little hands.
Does a family’s heating and cooling needs change when the grand folks move in, or your recent college graduate decides to stay home while building a nest egg? They very well might, especially when you convert an attic into living space or build an addition. If you foresee a move like that in your future, contact Air Professionals on how to properly heat and cool the new or renovated spaces, and how to do so affordably. It’s our job to see that no household member is lacking in comfort.