colorful illustration of a cross-section of a house with different living areas

Multigenerational households are right at home in the U.S.

By Julie Tramonte

November 2021

If you have childhood memories of pounding on the bathroom door as you wait your turn, thinking “I can’t wait to grow up and get my own house,” you may be surprised to learn this: 1 in 4 Americans choose to live in a multigenerational household.1 

With more bathrooms, I’m sure. But still, you may be wondering, “Why?”

Why do homebuyers consider multigenerational housing?

There are plenty of reasons why families choose to live in multigenerational households, which are defined as 3 or more generations living together. Here are some of the more typical ones: 
  • Cultural expectations – Multigenerational living has always been higher among minority families. At 23%, Asian/Pacific Islander families are largest segment to live together, with Hispanic/Latino families households following at 18% and Black/African Americans families at 15% – compared to only 10% of White/Caucasian families.2 Cultural expectations may play a role, with many families viewing multigenerational living as a tradition or duty. An additional benefit for immigrant families could be that younger, English-speaking family members are around to help with language barriers
  • Care for aging parents – Nursing homes and assisted living housing are expensive so many families decide to provide their own care of their aging loved ones. Also, there are different cultural considerations on how aging family members are treated
  • Cost savings – 43% of first-time homebuyers have student loan debt. Moving in with family allows them to save for a down payment. It can also free up funds for additional schooling or training. Plus, sharing expenses has obvious financial benefits for all the family members involved
  • Childcare – Having another generation care for children not only saves money but it also allows young parents to focus on their careers knowing they have reliable and loving childcare – to say nothing of the benefit of creating stronger bonds between the generations

The game changer for extended family living

Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, multigenerational homes have become more popular than ever.2 Even people who would never have imagined themselves sharing a home found themselves seriously considering the option for these pandemic-related reasons:
  • They lost their jobs and needed to move in with family for financial reasons
  • They didn’t want elderly parents in long-term care facilities to be separated or feel isolated from family due to COVID restrictions
  • They desired to move from densely populated areas to suburbs with more spacious homes to make social distancing and working from home easier and more comfortable. These larger homes often came with higher price tags in a tight market, necessitating the pooling of family resources to afford them

According to the 2020 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Report, after the COVID shutdown in March 2020, 15% of new homes purchased were by buyers needing a home to accommodate multigenerational living. In fact, multigenerational living has almost quadrupled in the last 10 years, going from 7% in 2011 to 26% in 2021.1

Multigenerational housing options

As the number of Americans living in multigenerational homes has grown, so has the number of dwelling options. Besides just moving into an extra bedroom of a traditional single-family home or remodeling to add an in-law suite, there now are homes being built specifically for multigenerational living. These custom homes are designed to offer both open-concept shared areas as well as privacy features, such as separate entrances, multiple ensuite bathrooms, kitchenettes and smaller dual-purpose rooms that can be used for reading, yoga or just being alone.  

A few years back while on a city garden tour, I was exposed to another unique way for multiple generations to live under one roof. In talking with the homeowners, I discovered the gardening duties were shared by 3 generations of the family, living on 3 separate floors of their triplex. The aging parents, who had downsized from their large home in a suburb, had purchased the triplex and now were living on the second floor between their 2 adult daughters and their respective families on the first and third floors. The families live together, but apart. And they chronicle their lives in a delightful family blog called

Is multigenerational housing for you?

The decision to live with multiple generations of your family is highly personalized. And the ability to do it successfully probably depends on several factors: open communication, a sense of humor, love, patience, respect, agreed upon boundaries and responsibilities, and enough bathrooms and TVs to avoid fights.

If you’re seriously considering extended family living, you may want to read Hive: The Simple Guide to Multigeneration Living: How Our Family Makes it Work, written by Lisa M. Cini, an architect who shares practical advice and personal tips based on her experience. 


1 Generations United Fact Sheet: Multigenerational Households

2 Full House: The Rise of Multi-generational Homes During COVID-19

Pew Research Center: A record 64 million Americans live in multigenerational households


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Julie Tramonte is a writer who joined MGIC in 2018. Prior to flying the coop, she wrote for a mattress company, a manufacturer and advertising agencies. She’s obsessed with reading, traveling, tennis and rearranging furniture. Mother of 2 beautiful, adult daughters. Empty nester who recently downsized. Her guilty pleasures are doughnuts and the Kardashians (don’t tell anyone).
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