During the recent Great Recession, many millennials found themselves moving back to their parents' homes or delaying moving out. While housing affordability has been a strong influence on the increase in multi-generational living, this more traditional lifestyle is being embraced by more Americans and is also influencing new housing design.
According to Pew Research Center data, in 2014, 60.6 million Americans lived in multigenerational homes, including 26.9 million in three-generation households. This research represents figures of multi-generational households representing 19 percent of the population and a reversal of previous trends. As a comparison, in the 1980s, the rate was only 12 percent compared to the 1950s rate of 21 percent.
Immigration and the aging population has played a strong role in this shift. According to the report, 25 percent of Latino households and 28 percent of Asian households were multi-generational, while white households were just 15 percent. According to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, because Americans are living longer, the number of Americans over the age of 80 is expected to double by 2035 where one third of households will be headed by someone over the age of 65.
This current and anticipated future change has also influenced building styles, with many builders now creating private attached-style suites or additional dwelling units (ADUs). Zoning laws are changing in many cities to accommodate this need as well. Higher density and allowance of ADUs has been an issue in Bend for many years.
It's expected that growth and longer life expectancies of the senior population will create increased demand for affordable multi-generational housing. As a realtor, I often encounter clients who express a desire to find homes suitable to convert to separate adjoining living spaces for parents or their children.
While economic necessity during the Great Recession may have given multi-generational households a growth spurt, it is becoming a preference for those who recognize the many benefits—beyond finances.