They say “necessity is the mother of invention,” and in today’s gloomy economic climate, we’re all looking for ways to cut back, lower our expenses and simplify our lifestyles. Could multigenerational living be for you?
As recently as the early 1900′s, multigenerational living was commonplace. Ever wonder why those old houses on the main streets of thousands of small towns across America were so big? It’s because three generations of a family lived in them. But over the last hundred or so years, multigenerational living became less desirable and, increasingly, families opted to live in nuclear family units.
During my previous career in psychology, I attended a continuing education seminar on the “family unit”. The speaker focused on how the “ills of modern society” can be traced to the breakdown of the family unit and a loss of connection to the community. He cited. “multigenerational living” as a possible solution – a solution that with the current economic crisis can make sense for families to consider.
How many of us already live in a home that is large enough to house additional family members? How much energy could be saved? Further, how much money could be saved on energy bills, etc., by sharing expenses? How much more convenient everyday life could be with more people helping to carry the load, run to the store, watch the children, mow the lawn, etc, not to mention how much richer our lives might be with this greater level of family interaction.
A few years ago, I was contracted to do some remodeling work for a couple that were preparing for retirement. Their plan (not done out of necessity), was that he and his wife along with his sister and her husband were all going to live together in the same house for their remaining years. I remember thinking “you don’t see that much anymore, but what a great idea.” We re-worked the home’s floor plan and created separate living areas with separate entrances and plenty of privacy for everyone.
I am not suggesting we all rush to move in with our kids or our parents. Multigenerational living isn’t for everyone. What I am saying is that perhaps we shouldn’t be too quick to dismiss the idea.
For those of us who see ourselves as part of the “Green Revolution” and are concerned about the environment and sustainability, multigenerational living might just be one of the “greenest things” we could do for the environment and, in today’s economy, it could help us keep a little extra “green” in our pockets, too.