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Léa Plourde-Archer
Léa
Plourde-Archer

(Author)
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The Pros and Cons of Living in a Multigenerational Home

Last modified: 2019/01/14 | Approximate reading time 5 mins

Interested in growing closer to your family? Well, you may not have a choice if you’ve considered living in a multi-generational home. It can’t be denied that times are tough on generations young, old and everything in between. Especially for those changing jobs or making their way out of university, the economy is a tough space. For this reason and many others, more and more families find themselves living underneath one roof and trying to make it work, together.

While most may not typically embrace this living arrangement, multi-generational homes have some definite benefits and offer a different quality of life. Buying or setting up a multigenerational home could be an ideal solution for both your expectations and needs. However alongside the benefits are some downsides that we’d like to point out in an examination of the pros and cons of living in a multi-generational household!

Living in a multigenerational home

Mom reading with kids

Since 2016 in Canada, there has been a significant spike regarding the growth rate of multigenerational homes, with a 37.5 percent increase since 2001. In most of these homes, there can be up to 3 generations under one roof. This increase has been based on a number of things, and this includes housing needs, the heightened cost of living in certain parts of the country as well as the ageing generations.  

When living in an intergenerational home, you have several advantages at your fingertips. Just to name a few, this living arrangement could mean saving on mortgage loans as well as accommodation costs, especially in the case where one of the family members previously rented their home. If your family situation comes down to finding support for an ageing generation, a multigenerational home can save serious costs when it comes to finding a nursing home.

There are many types of multigenerational homes. Oftentimes in big cities, apartment building owners live in the same place as their kids, but each with their independent apartments. In the case of single-family homes, bear in mind that you’ll likely be sharing all common spaces. In some cases, maybe consider building a small addition over the garage, in the backyard, in the attic or even the basement, as long as space allows.

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This way, although common spaces are shared, your bedroom could act as a retreat from the regular areas of the household. Both of these options are great ways to keep family members nearby while offering everyone a little bit of privacy. However, do keep in mind that this option could be an expensive one, and may end up costing more than you can afford.

Another common multigenerational living situation is that someone will inherit a family home, without anyone necessarily passing on. As an example: the parents own a home that is too big for them. In contrast, their children, who have been living in apartments since they left, now realize they need more space. With the idea that the house should stay within the family’s heritage, the parent could sell the home to their kids in order to earn some money so they can enjoy their retirement. In this instance, they would continue to live in the house but create a separate section for more privacy and intimacy.

Another major consideration when thinking about this living situation is to consider is the amount of space necessary for yourself and your family. If you have several children, make sure to think about the space available in the home, and this should include the ratio of secluded space to common space and so on.

Old man reading

Sharing everyday life

Beyond economic considerations, the main objective of a multigenerational home is the fact that the family will be brought closer together. In most cases, all members of the family will be present and there to help each other when needed. As mentioned, if all relationships with your family are fairly comfortable, then it could make perfect sense to live in a multigenerational home.

Especially in relation to the rapid rise of technology, living with older generations can be a welcome reminder that turning off and logging out are important practices to foster. Further, if you’re a young couple living with your parents and need a night to yourselves, you’ll luckily have the option of leaving children with their grandparents for a night of babysitting. Deepening the relationships between children, parents and grandparents can add an element of love and support that you wouldn't have in a single-family home.

This is even more beneficial for people suffering from a loss of autonomy or those who suffer from physical constraints but are able to collaborate in other ways to daily family life. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that the main aspect that’s keeping people from wanting to live in a multigenerational home is their fear of lacking privacy.

However, many people may not realize that these homes are usually made especially so that everyone has their own living space. We often see separate entrances and balconies that are independent one from the other. This small amount of separation allows people to be close whilst maintaining their own private lives.

The practical questions about living with several family members

Living in a community-setting comes with its own whole set of challenges. Regardless of why your family may have decided to live in a multigenerational setting, this has positive economic as well as social implications. In order to keep things running smoothly between all members of the family, certain rules have to be established. Early on, it's important that everyone get together to participate in a conversation where certain potentially taboo subjects would be covered: money, sharing daily tasks, noise, freedom to move around from one part of the house to another, and so on.

In doing so, these subjects are less likely to turn into daily conflicts. Further, consider all personal relationships in relation to this living arrangement. Do your parents get along with one another? Are yourself and your spouse on good terms? Are your children well-behaved or a handful? These may seem like an obvious question, but it is one that needs to be carefully considered before making this decision. Multigenerational homes really do have the power to alleviate social burdens while being beneficial for common household stressors such as money, workload and so on. However, establishing clear boundaries is key to making sure things stay positive.

Potential government subsidies for multigenerational homes

One final note is that we’d recommend checking with your local governments, whether that means municipal, provincial and federal, to see if there are any available subsidies and tax credits could be useful to turn your house into a multigenerational home or to renovate the one you already have. Certain credits may also be available for adult children taking care of their parents as caregivers. Do your research, as these subsidies can make transitioning into a multigenerational living situation much easier.

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