Multigenerational households are now appealing to the masses. Government statistics1 show that between 2000 and 2015, the number of people aged between 15 and 34 in a multigenerational living arrangement increased by 18% to 6.6 million. It’s clear that multigenerational homes are becoming increasingly popular, with many houses now accommodating parents and their grown children under one roof.
Our report found:
But why is this happening? According to our recent report2, becoming a homeowner is important to 83% of 25-34 year olds. However, in the past ten years, the average UK house price has risen 55% to £183,000, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult for younger generations to get on the property ladder. A lack of affordable housing has led to more and more adults living with their parents for longer, or moving back to their family home. Our report showed that over half (57%) of people would move or have moved home to help fund a property purchase. This living arrangement helps to keep the cost of living down, and supports younger generations saving for a deposit.
Our report revealed the composition of multigenerational households:
Despite the range of benefits multigenerational houses bring, having adult children living with you in your home can bring about significant change and possible conflict. Therefore, it’s important to prepare you house for when they come to live with you.
We spoke with Jan Cisek (FSSA, MSc), a Feng Shui Consultant and Environmental Psychologist, to gain insight into adapting your home for multigenerational living. We’ve put together some top tips to ensure you’re living in a suitable living arrangement, and to help maintain a peaceful household.
Welcome them back
For some grown children, residing with their parents may not be their first choice of living situation – especially if they’ve previously lived away from home. Therefore, when moving back, don’t forget to make them “feel welcomed and safe,” explains Cisek. “Make an effort to make their move special. Have a fun banner saying ‘Welcome Home’ or something similar.” You could even host a welcome party, so they feel excited but relaxed about where they’re living. It’s also important to make sure it feels like their own place, rather than living in someone else’s house. So “preserving some of their favourite things will help them feel at home and welcome.”
According to Cisek, “clearly defined separate spaces which can be personalised is the key.” This is because “people are territorial animals and we like to have control over our immediate surroundings.” Although it’s important to make time to get together as a family, keeping some areas separate – especially bedrooms – will help to maintain a sense of privacy. Personalise individual rooms with decorations which are meaningful to them, and put up a collection of photos of family and friends. Positive memories can really enhance everyone’s mood around the house.
Ruling the roost
In a busy household, communal areas can get overcrowded. Cisek points out that “sharing common rooms such as bathrooms at prime morning times can cause all kinds of tension.” So it’s important to agree what time everyone takes their shower before work. The same applies to the other living areas, which should also “have clear rules so there is no fighting over the TV controller or game console.” These shared areas should be a space to enjoy each other’s company and play a fun game together from time to time. So setting rules from the outset will help avoid any potential arguments.
Share the chores
Establishing who does what around the home gives everyone their own role, and will really help you to keep the house clean and tidy. Sharing “chores and duties such as cooking and cleaning is one way to engage and mobilise their strengths and a sense of belonging,” Cisek tells us. It will also help take some pressure off keeping everything in order, so don’t hesitate to ask your children for any support when you need it.
Keeping the peace
Having a range of different ages and generations living under the same roof can bring its challenges, especially if your grown children have previously been accustomed to the freedom of living away from home. Cisek explains that “the clash of generation is very common where we simply differ in terms of our world views. Children are now educating themselves on social media and internet sites. This way is dramatically different from pre-internet times. What might be acceptable to them, might not be to older generations.” Therefore, the first step is taking the time to understand and respect everyone’s different values and beliefs, and to appreciate where they’re coming from. Communication is key, to ultimately strengthen your relationships and maintain harmony around the home.
Read our advice about preparing your home if you have your elderly relatives coming to live with you.1https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/birthsdeathsandmarriages/families/bulletins/familiesandhouseholds/2015-11-05#young-adults-living-with-their-parents
2Research carried out by Censuswide research on behalf of Aviva in March 2016, using a random sample of 2,000 adults from across the UK.