More generations living under one roof has been on the rise for decades. With a global health crisis in the past year, buyers looking for a multigenerational home increased from 11 to 15%. Top reasons include a desire to spend more time with aging parents, the need to look after them, and giving adult children a chance to save money by staying or returning to their parents’ place.

If you’re planning on living with at least three generations in one home, options for housing can seem rather limited. After all, not everyone can afford a six-plus-bedroom home with multiple en-suite bathrooms. And most homes aren’t built to suit the needs of more than two adults under one roof. While having three generations under one roof might be feasible mapped out on paper, the reality may look quite different. Considerations must be handled for privacy and independence, as well as gathering spaces that are either shared or separate.

Options to Consider for Multigenerational Living

Whether you’re searching for a new multigenerational home or converting your current one, review the following issues with family to determine an agreeable living situation.

Look at bathroom-to-bedroom ratio. Are there enough to accommodate the needs of each person and their lifestyle?

Where will grandparents have storage? It’s important for aging people to have a place for their own things, not only for out-of-sight storage, but also display. They will be residents of the home too, not just guests.

Are there enough parking spaces? Who gets the garage or the driveway and who must park on the street?

Are there enough spaces for independence and privacy if entertaining one’s own guests or needing alone time?

Some families buy duplex homes to achieve separate living spaces that are connected by a hallway or door or separated by floors. Each “unit” has its own entrance, kitchen, and baths to maintain privacy and independence.

If you’re considering building an “in-law suite” addition on your current home, keep in mind that it’s a major investment. Remodeling magazine estimated the average 384-square-foot addition with bedroom, bathroom, and walk-in closet costs around $80,000. In some neighborhoods this will add value to your home, but in others, it could be an over-improvement that can’t be recouped down the road when selling.

Some families convert garage space, basements, or attics into separate living areas. While any of these are often a family’s best option, note that stairs could be a problem for aging parents and adding plumbing to some areas of the home can be problematic.

Some simply repurpose a study or bonus room as an extra bedroom. While this only offers one extra room for sleep and privacy, it’s an affordable option for those who need to house an additional family member.

If buying new construction, choose a builder that offers floorplan options for multigenerational homes. Some options include multiple owner’s bedrooms or in-law suites with a private bedroom, bath, and kitchenette. Ask your Realtor for specific recommendations.

Bottom Line

Demand for multigenerational homes will likely continue to increase as people live longer. Of course, looking after family and being together is the most important consideration, but it’s wise to analyze the financial implications. Meeting with a Realtor to discuss your individual circumstance can help you make smart decisions in terms of functionality and getting the most value for your money.

Real Estate Term of the Week

En suite: Usually described as a bathroom that adjoins a bedroom, as if they are both part of the same space.

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