In the old days, you had two options when your elderly mother or father could no longer care for themselves. You could either send them to a nursing home or care for them in your own home. Multi-living generational arrangements were typically born out of necessity, not out of choice. Due to the economic trends of the previous decade, housing options are being seen in a whole new light. Things once never considered are now not only acceptable, but smart and trendy.
There was a time when privacy was coveted. What you did behind the closed doors of your home was sanctified. Things have changed. Perhaps it is due to dwindling privacy because of the internet and social media, or maybe it was the introduction of mobile devices and cellphones, but people are now contemplating the option of living with family members of the same (or different) generation with glee.
They are also considering living with complete strangers to afford a better life. In an effort to share the cost of living, people are getting creative and are not so worried about having a home that is all their own.
In previous generations, some of the most popular new trends in home sharing would be tantamount to a compound or religious cult. But many people are now opting to share homes with other families or extended family members without hesitation. What agents and brokers are seeing is a new rise in next generational and multi-generational living arrangements. Not completely the same as cohabitation, it is about living in the same space while maintaining your own area.
Perhaps as a symptom of people living longer and not fully needing the assistance of the medical profession, the idea of having either your mother or mother-in-law living with you has become attractive to many families.
In fact, if you're moving around Winnipeg, real estate estimates that as many as 20 percent of those purchasing new homes are looking to share the space with more than one generation. A newer trend appearing after the housing crisis, either it was the kids moving back with the parents, or vice-versa; what homebuyers apparently found was that sharing space wasn’t such a bad deal after all.
Instead of two generations living in different spaces and getting less for their dollar, many families are combining incomes and coming up with variations of living that get them what they want at the price they can afford. Other factors are that there are many more dual-career families now than ever before. Having built-in daycare that doesn't cost a fortune, while also having someone you can trust, is a huge advantage to multi-generational sharing.
It also may be an indication of people understanding the value of doing it yourself. Taking a single-family home and making it functional as a two-space living area used to be very expensive. Now there are ways to redo a house to provide isolated spaces for very little cost and sometimes with nothing more than a little sweat equity on the part of the homeowners. That opens up the imagination for both generations to see the potential benefit of living together.
Many things have changed over the years. Decades ago, there wasn’t anywhere for the elderly to go, so people had to live together out of necessity. Then assisted-living and nursing homes came along for when parents were too old to take care of themselves.
The new trend is not waiting until the elderly aren't capable of taking care of themselves, but moving them close by to benefit from living together. A new twist on an old practice, generations living together is no longer something to be ashamed of.
If the housing market takes off and people no longer have to rely on their limited budgets to find their space in life, it will be interesting to see if they opt to get a bigger house to share or decide to go their separate ways. Likely, falling on hard times has taught Americans something they forgot as technology grew: family is nice to have around, even if sometimes it means sharing the same roof.