How to Find Multigenerational Homes

Multigenerational family posing for a group picture outside their home.
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The demand for multigenerational homes is not slowing down. Multigenerational homes have members of more than two generations living under the same roof. There are many benefits to living with family, but a few challenges exist as well.

The idea of communal living and keeping the family together holds a growing appeal. Better health, prosperity, and support are reasons people choose to live with multiple generations.

The Reasons Behind Multigenerational Homes

More than 51 million Americans live in multigenerational households, according to Generations United. This is an increase of more than 10% from 2007, which marked the start of the Great Recession.

There are many reasons why extended family members may possess a strong desire to live together. Economic conditions are one. The market crash from 2006 to 2011 forced many people out of their homes and into a family member's home. Foreclosures and short sales affected the credit of all these people, so some families had no choice but to turn to a parent or other family member for housing. Similarly, the COVID-19 pandemic lead more people to buy multigenerational housing.

Many recent adult college graduates discover it's difficult to find a job in their field, or the salary offered is not enough to afford an apartment. Children who leave home to live with a partner or spouse sometimes discover the relationship was not meant to last. Single parents with children often find it's easier to start over if they move back home.

Slightly more than half of the people between the ages of 18 and 29 lived with their parents in 2020.

People are also living longer today. When a parent or grandparent experiences memory loss or other health issues, adult children will often offer a place in their home to accommodate around-the-clock care.

Living together as a blended family is also a natural way of life in many countries outside of the United States.

Benefits
  • Can help family recover from financial challenges

  • Helps recent college grads stay afloat while hunting for their first job

  • Can provide care for aging family members more easily

  • Immigrants can continue cultural norms with multigenerational living

  • Helps newly-single people who may have children and limited resources

  • Family receives communal living benefits of increased health, support, and prosperity

Challenges
  • Not discussing chores or responsibilities can cause issues among family members

  • It may be difficult to meet everyone's privacy needs

  • The finances of all family members must be considered

  • Living space might have to be geared to accommodate different age ranges, such as the elderly or very young children

  • Difficult to assign a space for single-use functions

Disadvantages of Multigenerational Living

Although there are many positive reasons for having a multi-generational household, a few disadvantages need to be discussed upfront and worked out to avoid any family feuds. Finances and chores must be discussed early on when a family member moves in or returns home from college to stay.

The living space may need to accommodate three or four generations of family, and it must be properly equipped, whether for a baby, a teenager, or an elderly family member.

It's also important to consider specific needs that different-aged family members will have, such as a comfortable place to watch television for older family and a place to play for the younger ones. Elderly parents shouldn't be thought of as on-call, unpaid babysitters. Also, adult children may not be willing or able to dedicate limited free time to the care of elderly relations.

Privacy is very important to teenagers, so this will have to be discussed and worked out as well. Consider these types of issues when looking at various home layouts and deciding whether a bonus room or extra bedroom is necessary.

​Types of Multigenerational Homes

Here are several types of multigenerational homes to consider.

Two Houses on One Lot

These aren't just homes in the country. You can find two houses on a lot in many urban settings. Some MLS criteria allow a search for two houses on a lot.

Infill Developments

Infill developments are when unused spaces in urban areas are turned into homes, such as smaller lots between two homes. Another option is to build a home over the garage or in an alley, especially on deep lots from 80- to 160-feet.

Two to Four Residential Units

These include duplexes, whether configured up-and-down or side-by-side, as well as triplexes, four-plexes, or a single-family home coupled with a duplex on the same or an adjoining lot.

Halfplexes are similar and consist of two buildings that may resemble a duplex, but each has a separate parcel number. They can be sold separately.

Build-To-Suit Multigenerational Homes

National homebuilders have recognized the need for multigenerational housing and have started designing suitable homes. Some specialty designs are two residences under one roof with two kitchens and separately defined spaces for privacy.

The Best Way to Find Multi-Generational Homes

​Your best bet to find a variety of options suitable for multigenerational housing is to find an experienced real estate agent to assist. You can search for homes online at any number of websites, but many of those are unregulated. Some purposely publish feeds without regard to quality or the source of information. Homes might be sold or pending by the time you find them. It can be very depressing to fall in love with a home online and find out it is not for sale.

A real estate agent can set up private searches for you to receive listings as soon as they come on the market. The agent can also arrange for you to tour new home construction sites. The services of a buyer's agent are typically free to a buyer. No doubt, you will find an agent's service invaluable and much easier than going it alone.