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Multi-generational houses – living with your adult children
House prices have generally been rising faster than incomes, which has made it increasingly hard for first time buyers to take the plunge and buy their first home. Just saving up the money for a deposit can take years. The result of this is that more and more families are living in multi-generation homes – or ‘co-homing’ – so that adult children can save some money, whether that’s to get a deposit together or because they can’t afford to move out.
Decades ago it was almost unheard of to see a twenty or even thirty-something moving back in with their parents – they’d more likely be married and have their own family by then, only relying on their parents for childcare or Sunday lunch. Fast-forward to the present day and ‘boomerang kids’, who’ve left and then moved back in, are a really common phenomenon. In fact, a survey has revealed that one in four people aged between 20 and 30 has returned home several times before finally making a go of it on their own.
Last year, research* carried out for us found that 42% of young adults living at home didn’t pay their parents any rent, which suggests that saving money is high on the agenda. They might want to start saving up for a deposit on a mortgage, which takes time, so moving back in with parents can seem an obvious way to save some money.
It’s not just the kids!
Adult children living with Mum and Dad isn’t the only example of multi-generational housing. Sometimes it’s the other way round, with parents moving in with their children as they get older. The older generation may look to downsize if their partner dies or if they want to save money as they’re finding it a struggle to live off their pension. In these situations, it makes sense for them to move in with their family, as they’ll still be able to keep their independence, compared to living in sheltered housing. Granny flats or annexes can be built onto the side of existing properties so that older relatives can have the security of living with you, without either party losing their own space. And sometimes it makes sense to live with elderly parents if they need care.
Coping with the cramp
Whilst there are obviously cost benefits for two, or even three, generations of a family living together, it can be hard to adjust to spending so much time with your children or elderly parents, particularly if you’ve lived apart for several years. The most important thing is that everyone has their own space – otherwise the house can start to feel very small pretty quickly. Make sure that any adult children are able to have the privacy of being able to spend time in their own room. They’ll need to respect the fact that their parents will need to have time alone too.
It’s also important that you share out the responsibilities and chores early on, so you don’t end up feeling burdened by having to do all of the cleaning and cooking. If it helps, make a jobs rota, so everyone takes it in turn to cook the family dinner or to empty the bins.
There is also the tricky issue of whether you should ask your adult children to pay rent for living at home. If your children are working and earning a wage, it’s more than fair to ask them to contribute financially to the running of the household. It depends on your individual situation – if your kids have moved back in with you for just a short time so they can save for a mortgage deposit, you might not want to charge them rent so they can save up faster. However, if they’re likely to be there for a while, you should think about discussing splitting some of the bills. Remember, even though they are your children, they are still adults and should behave as such – they don’t need to rely on you to pay for everything.
*OnePoll questioned 1,000 adults aged 18 and over between 8th August and 14th August 2014. 500 respondents were aged between 18 and 34 and living with their parents. 500 respondents were aged 18 and over and had children aged 18 to 34 living at home with them.