Housing Trend to Watch: Multigenerational Living

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Multigenerational living, defined as more than two generations living under the same roof, continues to grow in popularity in today's housing market. According to a 2016 Pew Research report, a record 60.6 million Americans lived in multigenerational households in 2014. Generations United explains that means one in six Americans currently lives in a multigenerational household. Many researchers also include households with a grandparent and at least one other generation.

The trend continues to gain momentum for many reasons: people are marrying later and continuing to live with their parents in the meantime; some have health and disability issues; and others may suffer from poor economic conditions. Whether a buyer is currently in the market for a multigenerational home or thinks they may need this in the future, here are some things to keep in mind:

Layout beats amenities

Look for a home with two master bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. Find a home with separate entrances and kitchens for different wings of the house. Ideal multigenerational designs are those that provide space separation between living quarters. Whether it’s an above-garage, basement, or second-floor suite, it’s ideal to have space between generations. Having separate quarters also makes it clear who is responsible for cleaning and caring for each part of the house. Keep in mind that stairs may become a challenge for seniors as they age and need to be taken into consideration when determining which living quarters is used by whom.

Entertainment space is essential

A living area for hosting a guest or watching TV without interrupting the rest of the family makes the space feel less like a single room and more like a home. It’s often hard for seniors to give up their independence. Providing them with as much personal space as possible can ease the transition. And, if they are still active and want to have a social life, this allows them to invite company over without feeling like they are intruding on their children’s or grandchildren’s space. The same can be said for adult children living at home with their parents.

Safety is in the details

Think about certain safety measures in a home. Lever handles on doors are better than doorknobs. When considering flooring, make sure walkers or wheelchairs can move across the house with ease. All staircases should be lined with railings. Seniors might also prefer a walk-in shower or a handle in the shower or bathtub they will be using.

Comfort is key

It’s becoming more common that each living space has its own temperature controls which makes the separate area that much more personal and comfortable. As seniors age. their body temperatures tend to decrease and they become more sensitive to heating and cooling. By planning ahead and installing a separate temperature system for the different living quarters, everyone will be more comfortable. If a separate temperature system isn’t possible, make sure there is room for fans or heaters so each family member can adjust to their preferences.

Location matters

A home near parks and trails will help keep active seniors moving and provide much-needed time away. In a 2010 CDC study, more than 30 percent of adults aged 65 or older reported no leisure-time physical activity. A park or trail nearby, ideally within walking distance for those who don’t drive, encourages seniors to get out and exercise which can help prevent bone loss and increase muscle strength. Parks also offer the chance for bonding across generations and an excellent space outside the home to enjoy each other’s company.

As multigenerational living continues to rise in popularity, buyers are seeking and often finding more options than ever available to them that can accommodate these unique dynamics.

Jim Litten is president of F.C. Tucker Company.

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