One roof, multiple generations: Can it work?

One roof, multiple generations: Can it work?

UK property prices have seen a 52% increase over the last 10 years (2005 – 2015), making flying the nest less attractive for young people. Our Home report1 revealed that today, one in five of 25-29 year olds and nearly one in ten of 30-34 year olds live with their parents. Most of them haven’t yet moved out, while others moved back after their studies or to save for a house deposit. According to the Office of National Statistics, they represent about 3.3m of the UK population.

Yet, young adults are not the only ones who find the idea of returning to the family home appealing. Many elderly parents or relatives who seek care or companionship are also now moving back in with their middle-aged children. Property prices and the effect of recession, combined with the baby-boomer generation’s need for support has revived the long-forgotten practice of multi-generational living.

So, what’s a multi-generational household? It’s more than two generations living under the same roof such as grand-parents, parents and adult children. Our report suggests that if the house prices kept rising there could be 3.8 million 21-34 year olds living with their parents by 2025. We’ve looked at the pros and cons of living in a multi-generational household.

The benefits of multi-generational living

Two in three people currently living with extended family find this arrangement advantageous. For most people their contentment resides in the absence of loneliness, and the money saved sharing a home.
Top 5 advantages multi-generational

Close relationships: Our survey showed that always having someone around for company is the main benefit of multi-generational living. According to the Mental Health Foundation2, talking is a great way to keep your mind healthy, especially chatting about your feelings and general well-being. This can include talking about house issues when they arise.

Cheaper living costs: A reduction of the cost of living is also seen as highly advantageous. As the cost of monthly bills, rent and food shopping is divided by three to six people or more, the total price paid to occupy the house is considerably less than living alone.

Sharing chores: On a more practical note, the survey suggested that living with more people also meant sharing the chores. An overwhelming 56% of the respondents rated this as one of the best benefits of multi-generational living.

Homey feeling: For over half of the population, living with extended family is what makes a house feel more like a home.

Caring for other people: For 40% of people, it’s the feeling of caring for others that they like the most about living in a multi-generational household. In some cases, children take care of elderly relatives who need care or grand-parents babysit their grand-children.

The concerns of multi-generational living

Concerns living with extended family

Even though almost nine in 10 people are happy sharing their space with extended family, our report highlighted some grey areas. People’s biggest concern was the impact living with (more) people could have on their current lifestyle.

Our survey revealed Brits’ top concerns about living with extended family:

Sharing a home can sometimes mean being willing to share a private space, such as bathrooms. In many western countries, ‘personal space’ is seen as a need that’s why it’s seen as one the main concerns of multi-generational living for 65% of the UK population. In other cultures such as in Asia, living in a community is the only way to go3.

The noise and how busy the house is is also a legitimate concern, due to the number of people under one roof. However, environmental psychologist and Feng Shui Consultant Jan Cisek explained that establishing clear rules is one of the key factors of living in harmony with each other. For example, creating a schedule for the bathroom could help avoid arguments.

With 88% of people satisfied with living in a multi-generational household, three-generational living is a trend that has every reason to stick. Even though there’s a whole host of motives for moving back to the family nest, we discovered that a big part of the appeal is the financial and social aspects of living under the same roof. According to our survey, acceptance, communication and doing more chores will definitely win the heart of your extended family.

If you want to learn more about multi-generational living, read our advice about preparing your home if you have elderly relatives coming to live with you or if you have children coming back to live in the family home.

1Research carried out by Censuswide research on behalf of Aviva in March 2016, using a random sample of 2,000 adults from across the UK.
2 www.mentalhealth.org.uk/publications/how-to-mental-health
3 www.eastwestcenter.org/fileadmin/stored/misc/FuturePop08Aging.pdf

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