The concept of older relatives moving in with their younger family members and vice versa has once again become a popular option for a lot of families.
Families might be planning to have their elderly parents’ age in place with them, for example. Some families also use programs like Freedomcare, so they can act as paid caregivers for their families.
There are also situations where it’s beneficial for the younger family members to save money on housing expenses or childcare by living with older relatives.
Regardless of your family and your goals, you need to choose the right home if you think that you might have a multigenerational arrangement in the future and you’re buying a home now.
In the most general sense, a multigenerational home is one in which an extended family comes together to share, and in doing so, they often share their resources with one another. There were more than 66 million Americans estimated to be living with their relatives in 2021.
The following are things to consider as far as a multigenerational home.
Talk About Details Before Buying
If you’re going in with extended family to buy a home, you need to make sure everyone is on the same page well in advance. You want to determine each person’s particular financial limits, and you should also have open discussions about how everyone’s contribution and how that affects their potential ownership stake.
As an example, if one family member is paying a bigger portion of the down payment or the entire down payment, is their ownership share going to reflect that?
You’ll also need to agree on the names that you’re going to list on the deed as the official owners. You might opt to do what many families do, which is be joint tenants, so your ownership stakes are equal.
You can also use a tenant in a common agreement so that everyone can pass their ownership on through their will.
Once you decide who’s paying what, you can set a budget and start to explore what everyone’s biggest priorities are in a property. Think about the features of the home itself, and also things like the neighborhood and local amenities.
Homes With A Mother-in-Law Suite
If you’re going to move in with relatives, you might look for a home with a so-called mother-in-law suite. This may be something you decide to build onto your home, too, if you want to stay in your existing one.
These are simply additional spaces that add more privacy for people who live with you. The cost to build these suites can be upwards of $65,000, and if you can buy a home that already has one, that tends to be a less expensive option.
If you are going to buy a house with this type of separate living space, make sure it’s up to code. Talk to the HOA and ensure that it follows the rules of a guest house if it’s a separate structure. If you buy a home that has one of these separate suites, but it’s not up to code, you may have to tear it down or change it significantly.
The Features Of A Multigenerational Home
If you’re modifying an existing property or you’re buying a new house, some of the features to look for in a multigenerational option, aside from the potential mother-in-law-suite, include:
- You want to choose a floor plan that’s going to work for everyone or could be easily adjusted to do so. You want to think about not just current needs but future needs, especially for your older family members. You may want all the bedrooms on the first floor or at least one bedroom. That first-floor bedroom is probably going to need a spacious bathroom and closet.
- Another floorplan option might be to choose a home where there are also separate living areas that can be divided up.
- Homes with a small separate apartment can initially seem like the best first option, but you want to make sure that these aren’t going to eventually become inaccessible if your elderly parents or relatives aren’t as mobile. You also want to make sure you’ll be able to keep an eye on them if the apartment is fully separate and make sure they’re safe if something in their health changes.
- Some families buy duplexes or triplexes, which gives them completely separate living spaces connected with shared walls or floors, but this may not be as affordable as a single-family property.
Be Prepared For The Pros And Cons
When you go into a multigenerational living situation, you want to be honest with yourself about the upsides but also the downsides.
The upsides are the shared expenses that make things easier, as mentioned, plus you’ll have a closer family bond across generations. Childcare can also be easier if you live with older family members, and you may feel like it’s safer and gives you more peace of mind for your kids to be with people who love them.
Eventually, you’ll be better able to provide care to your elderly family members when they need it without completely having to change your life. You can reduce the cost of care and knowledge that your family is well-taken care of.
So what about the downsides?
A lack of privacy is a big one. Even with the perfect layout for a multigenerational family, you may feel like you don’t have much time to yourself. A good thing to do to avoid this, along with having separate living spaces, is to set boundaries.
You could have differences in lifestyle or schedule, so you’ll have to learn to accommodate one another, and if you have a large group, while you can theoretically share expenses, you could get to the point where you don’t feel like you’re sharing things equally.
You could feel like you’re shouldering more of the financial burden, so you could need to have uncomfortable conversations.
In the wake of the pandemic, multigenerational living is becoming increasingly common, but you do have to be mindful of the pitfalls and work to find arrangements that will help you avoid these as much as possible.