A recent article on nextavenue.org (“A Beautiful Backyard Cottage for Mom and Dad,” December 2014) provides several appealing housing options that are available for today’s multigenerational families.


Multigenerational housing has been around as long as humanity itself. The way we prefer to live together, though, continues to evolve—and developers are building with that in mind. A spokesperson for the Pulte Group homebuilder describes how her company meets the demand for multigenerational homes:


  • In-home options. In Florida, they offer the “Grand Retreat,” an over-the-garage living room/bedroom addition reminiscent of the traditional in-law apartment. In Chicago, they offer a first floor suite that converts the den into a bedroom and full bathroom.
  • Customized cottages. Small, backyard cottages can be customized to include practical features, such as a wheelchair-accessible shower, as well as personal touches.
  • Two houses. Two houses can be built on a large plot of land, a solution that allows seniors to be independent while spending plenty of time with children and grandchildren. This can even help a young couple to own their first home with their parents’ help.


It takes a willingness to compromise to successfully live with another person, and having multiple generations living under one roof can be even more of a challenge. Grandparents.com provides suggestions for keeping the peace in a multigenerational home (“Multi-generational Living: How to Live with Family and Not Fight,” 2014):


  • Make an agreement about who pays for what, keeping in mind that payment doesn’t always have to mean cash. A grandparent who has the time to wait for a repairman or stay home with a sick child is providing a valuable asset.
  • Avoid arguments by taking turns doing chores.
  • Get together to develop household rules regarding acceptable levels of noise.
  • Discuss the level of cleanliness and neatness on which the entire family can agree. Consider designating the main living area as a “clean zone” that everyone must work to maintain.
  • Talk about your expectations of privacy and clarify what you consider common courtesy.




Do you live in a multigenerational home? Are you considering moving in with your children?