Intergenerational housing is a concept that’s been around for thousands of years. More than a living arrangement, it’s a community that’s focused on generations coming together and dwelling under the same roof. According to an analysis census, there are 59.7 million people living in intergenerational households as of March 2021.
Intergenerational housing could be the perfect alternative to a retirement community. But before you ask your kids or grandkids or those helpful college students down the street to move in, you should do a little preplanning. Here are 5 things to consider before you embrace intergenerational housing.
1. There could be generational conflict.
It’s no secret that many older adults struggle to understand the younger generation. Conversely, younger generations often don’t understand their elders, either! We all want to believe our way is the best way, and sometimes, that attitude can set the tone for a household. For example, you might have different ideas on curfew times. Or wardrobe choices. Or technology use. The list can be endless!
2. You’ll have less privacy.
There’s no way to sugarcoat it—more people means less privacy. Sure, you can always lock the door or seek refuge in your den. But your kitchen and living room will probably become high traffic areas. If the thought of somebody overhearing your private phone calls or invading your bubble while you’re making a sandwich makes your skin crawl, you might want to reconsider intergenerational housing.
3. There will be more housework.
Nobody likes doing chores. Most of us balk at the idea of folding laundry or washing dishes. With more people living under the same roof, those pesky household chores will pile up even faster. Suddenly, the amount of clothes you have to fold and dishes you have to wash is doubled! Of course, if everyone pulls their weight, you can take care of those chores in no time. However, some members of the household might not be willing to lend a helping hand.
4. You might need to remodel or expand your home.
Sure, your two-bedroom, two-bath home might be perfect for you and your spouse. But add a handful of people to the equation, and suddenly, your dream house is a nightmare. Remodeling or adding another wing onto the house can be costly. Not to mention, the remodeling process itself can be loud and intrusive! Before you call up any contractors or start drafting a new blueprint, make sure you weigh all the pros and cons. Are you actually willing to invest time and money into a home renovation project of HGTV proportions?
5. You’ll need to adjust your lifestyle.
There’s a stereotype about older adults being set in their ways, but for some, this might ring true. If you’re bringing new household members into the fold, there’s a pretty good chance it’ll shake up your routine. Maybe you like watching a show that only comes on at a certain time, but another member of the household wants to use the TV. Or you like showering first thing in the morning, but somebody else needs to use the bathroom to get ready for work at that time. Or you’re on a steady diet of steak, chicken, and fish, and your housemate is vegan. Make sure you take into consideration all the lifestyle adjustments you have to make before you invite any permanent guests into your home.
While there are many potential pitfalls of intergenerational housing, it’s important to also consider the benefits. Affordability, strong cognitive and emotional health, and a built-in social support system are just a few of the many perks of intergenerational housing. So, after you consider the cons of this living arrangement, make sure you weigh the pros, too.
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