Back to the Future: How Multigenerational Living is Changing Home Design

Lauren Bevilacqua | May 23, 2024

Back to the Future: How Multigenerational Living is Changing Home Design

Picture this: a lively home where three generations share stories, meals, and memories daily. The kids are playing, grandparents are imparting wisdom, and young adults are figuring out their path in life—all under one roof. This isn’t a scene from a nostalgic 90s sitcom; it’s the reality for millions of Americans today. With housing prices soaring and economic uncertainty lingering, more families are embracing multigenerational living. But what does this mean for the future of apartment design? Let’s explore the trend and how it’s reshaping the way we think about our living spaces.

Rising housing costs, student debt, and economic uncertainty, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, have led more young adults to move back in with their parents. Financial issues are a primary driver of multigenerational living, but it’s not just about money—this trend also reflects a return to traditional living arrangements, where multiple generations live together to care for one another, provide companionship, and help with childcare​.

Beyond Dollars and Cents: Unpacking the Full Picture

Multigenerational living is convenient and rewarding for many families. It allows for shared responsibilities, closer family bonds, and support for both young and old. This setup is likely here to stay as more people find value in living together. 

Studies have shown that the primary driving factor behind this shift is financial. A significant 40% of adults in multigenerational households cite economic reasons as the main motivation. Asking rents continue to rise up 2.25% year-over-year, while housing demand still far exceeds supply, and interest rates remain high​.

However, it’s not just about dollars and cents. According to a census from the Pew Research Center, convenience and emotional benefits play a substantial role in the appeal of multigenerational living. More than half of adults in such arrangements describe the experience as “convenient” (58%) and “rewarding” (54%), with only 23% finding it “stressful”​.

The advantages of shared responsibilities, closer family bonds, and mutual support for both young and old are significant. Many find it easier to manage childcare and eldercare within a multigenerational setting, which enhances family cohesion and reduces stress.

Considering these factors, it’s reasonable to assume that multigenerational households may become the “new normal” for many young adults. The combination of economic necessity and the tangible benefits of living with family suggests that this trend will continue to grow.

So, what does this mean for multifamily developers? Traditionally, apartment designs cater to single-generation families. To accommodate multigenerational households, developers must consider:

  • Multiple Main Entrances: Allowing younger adults to come and go freely.
  • More En Suite Bathrooms: Providing privacy for all residents.
  • Multiple Living Areas: Offering flexibility and reducing conflicts.
  • Communal Spaces: Facilitating socialization outside the apartment.
  • Small Kitchenettes in Bedrooms: Enabling independent meal preparation.
  • Accessible Bedrooms/Baths: Supporting older residents with mobility issues.

Seamless Utility Management for Multigenerational Living

With the rise of multigenerational households, utility management is becoming increasingly complex. A higher and fluctuating number of property occupants invites higher and more varied usage month to month, and the rising tendency for partial occupant-move outs has complicated the name change process for property managers throughout the U.S. But clever technology and revamped processes can go a long way towards compensating for the shift in demographics. Here’s how utility management can be integrated into new apartment designs:

  1. Smart Metering and Billing: Smart meters can track utility usage for each section of the apartment, ensuring fair billing based on actual consumption. This is especially important in multigenerational homes where usage patterns may vary significantly between residents.
  2. Energy-Efficient Appliances: Installing energy-efficient appliances in each unit, including small kitchenettes and bathrooms, can reduce overall utility costs and environmental impact.
  3. Centralized Utility Management Systems: These systems can monitor and manage energy, water, and other utilities across the entire building, optimizing consumption and detecting issues early. This helps maintain a sustainable and cost-effective living environment.
  4. Customized Utility Plans: Offering customized utility plans that cater to the unique needs of multigenerational households, such as flexible payment options or bundled services, can enhance convenience and affordability.
  5. Green Energy Solutions: Incorporating renewable energy sources, like solar panels, can further reduce utility costs and support eco-friendly living, which is often a consideration for modern multigenerational families.

Embracing the Future: A New Era of Home Design

As multigenerational living becomes more prevalent, multifamily developers must adapt their designs to meet the needs of these households. By incorporating thoughtful design features and advanced utility management solutions, developers can create more functional and appealing living spaces for this growing market segment.

Sources:

  1. Pew Research Center, “Multigenerational living is growing fastest among young Americans,” Pew Research Center
  2. Pew Research Center, “The experiences of adults in multigenerational households,” Pew Research Center
  3. Pew Research Center, “Record 64 million Americans live in multigenerational households,” Pew Research Center
Lauren Bevilacqua

Lauren Bevilacqua

Lauren is the Content Marketing Manager at Conservice. She is an avid reader, fitness enthusiast, Dolly Parton fan, and will never turn down chips and salsa.

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