06 September 2016
Multi-Generational Housing: Room for All

Frank Wyatt, President of the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association and a principal at Pinnacle Homes in Las Vegas, defines multi-generational housing as simply “more than one generation living together. Home builders and remodelers are building and renovating homes to meet the needs of multigenerational households. These [home] designs allow the generations of a family to live together, yet have private areas as well as combined living space.”

Statistics from the Pew Research Centerindicate a strong movement in the direction of multi-generational households:

  • The number of people living in multi-generational households has doubled since 1980.1
  • By 2012, almost one-quarter of young adults (aged 25-34) lived in multi-generational homes. 1
  • A Pew study reports, “The increase in multi-generational living…is apparent across genders and among most racial and ethnic groups.” 1
  • In 2014, 31 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds lived in a parent’s house.2

Why the Bump in Multi-Generational Housing?

Experts point to a number of reasons. Some suggest that recent college graduates with large student loan debt have no choice but to move back in with mom and dad. In other cases, kids move back home to save up enough for grad school or for a down payment on their own homes – a quick way to gain the independence young adults want.

Unemployment has forced some young adults to move back home while they look for a job to earn enough for a place of their own.

Another reason may surprise you. We’re waiting longer to get married than in previous generations, according to a Pew study.2 Young adults seem to be career-driven, putting off marriage to establish themselves within their professions. Living at home (and paying some bills) can help senior parents on a fixed income, while enabling the child to accumulate enough personal capital to get married, buy a home, and start a family.

Another factor is that Americans are living longer and staying healthier in their later years. This means older Americans may be looking for alternative living arrangements as they downsize from the family home. The extended family has made a comeback with grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, children, and others all living under the same roof.

What to Look for in Multi-Generational Living?

If the kids are moving back in, or dad and mom are moving into the remodeled in-law apartment over the garage, there are some design and lifestyle considerations that will make for a happier living environment for all members of the household.

Personal privacy may be the most important consideration when planning to buy or remodel your home for multi-generational living. A private entrance avoids unwanted intrusions and cross-generational interference. A separate sitting area, like a deck or patio, improves the chances of privacy for all members of the household.

A private bathroom is almost a must. It should be tucked away so it’s not used by other family members or guests. Ideally, the private bath should be off-limits to all except those who live in that part of the home.

A small food prep area prevents bumping into Junior making a sandwich. You don’t need a full kitchen, but a microwave oven, coffee maker, small refrigerator and other basics will keep family members at arm’s length. It’ll also mean less work for you if the extended family members can prepare their own meals.

Part of a private space should include an entertainment area. If mom or your kids can entertain friends in their own space, it frees up your space. For most, it’s worth the extra building or remodeling expense to keep family members from infringing on each other’s personal space and getting on each other’s nerves.

Make sure private living spaces have their own heating and cooling controls. You may think it’s hot in your part of the house, while dad has the heat turned on and is wrapped in a blanket.

When talking to a remodeler or builder about your multi-generational living needs, make sure you keep your own space private. Even the closest, most loving families need privacy and their own routines. Create a multi-generational living space all members of the household can actually live in.

You’ll be glad you’re one big happy family again, but you’ll also be glad to get away to your private space throughout the day.

Looking for a way to finance home improvements to make room for Junior or Mom and Dad? Consider a Home Equity Credit Line from Nevada State Bank3, which can help you use the equity in your home to pay for remodeling expenses. Click here for more information.

  1. www.pewsocialtrends.org/2014/07/17/in-post-recession-era-young-adults-drive-continuing-rise-in-multi-generational-living/
  2. www.pewsocialtrends.org/2016/05/24/for-first-time-in-modern-era-living-with-parents-edges-out-other-living-arrangements-for-18-to-34-year-olds/
  3. Loans subject to credit approval; terms and conditions apply.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.


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