More people are living with relatives
The recession has accelerated a trend that was already under way. Both economics and demographics are responsible.
The latest census figures prove what we already have heard anecdotally: More people are living with relatives.
For the first time in 50 years, households are getting smaller, not larger. Not only are young adults living in their parents' basements because they can't get jobs that pay enough to get their own homes, but older people are also moving in with children.
That all adds up to more family togetherness — and cuts the demands for homes.
In Washington, D.C., 33% more people are living with relatives than did a decade ago, Carol Morello and Ted Mellnik report at The Washington Post.
"We haven't seen anything like this since the Depression," Brown University sociologist Frances Goldscheider said in The Post. "Overwhelmingly, it’s the recession's effect on people's ability to maintain a house. You have the foreclosures on one hand, and no jobs on the other. That’s a pretty double whammy."
Nationwide, about 16% of people live in a multigenerational household, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of census data. That's a reversal of a trend that began around World War II, when more families began moving to single-generation households.
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About 25% of Americans lived in a multigenerational family in 1940. That number had fallen to 12% by 1980. Now the numbers are moving back up.
In addition to economic reasons for the increase, the recession has accelerated the trend.
Immigrants are more likely to live in multigenerational households, though the trend has increased in all ethnic groups. Young people are marrying later and staying in their parents' homes in the meantime. Plus, more older people are moving in with their children.
In Annapolis, Md., retirees Beverly Braun and her husband, Skip Loescher, are living in a four-generation household. Her mother lives in a garage apartment. Her 45-year-old daughter and her daughter's two teenage children moved in after they lost their California home to foreclosure.
The family says the arrangement is working out well.
"My 89-year-old mother is coping with T-shirts that say things her mother would have fainted at," Braun said toThe Post. "The key is to realize different is not a matter of right and wrong. There’s classical and country music, and people like them both. It's the same with what you snack on and how you pass your time. For all the little hassles, we are blessed."
Are you living in a multigenerational household? Do you expect to in the future?
This makes sense. It can be a mutually supportive arrangement for everyone in the long run. Hey, I see it like the modern day "Waltons".
About Teresa Mears
Teresa Mears is a veteran journalist who has been interested in houses since her father took her to tax auctions to carry the cash at age 10. A former editor of The Miami Herald's Home & Design section, she lives in South Florida where, in addition to writing about real estate, she publishes Miami on the Cheap to help her neighbors adjust to the loss of 60% of their property value.