Imagine a world where free childcare and gardening await your embrace, where Grandma's treats warm your heart, and the chance to witness your grandchildren flourish daily fills your life with joy. This vision is not a distant dream; it's the aspirational reality of multigenerational living.
Under One Roof, We Thrive
In a recent survey conducted by Legal & General, nearly half of adults expressed their belief that having three generations under one roof should become a popular trend. They saw it not only as a good thing but as a source of inspiration. A third of the surveyed adults even thought that the government should offer financial incentives for multigenerational living, and an overwhelming four out of five believed that those in such ForeverHomes were better off.
While the idea of co-living is increasingly appealing, merging two households can be a complex and expensive endeavor.
Riding the Rising Wave
The trend of multigenerational living is on the rise, even if not everyone has embraced it yet. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) does not regularly track this phenomenon, but in 2013, they estimated that the number of households with three generations living together had grown from 325,000 in 2001 to 419,000.
Fast forward to 2019, and the ONS looked again, using a different measure, and found that there were 222,885 households that included someone under 45, someone over 69, and someone in between, totaling a staggering 891,729 individuals. When we also consider two-generation homes with parents and their adult children, as a study by the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research (CCHPR) did in 2019, the figure swells to approximately 1.8 million multigenerational households.
The Challenges of Space and Money
The growth of this heartwarming trend may depend on the UK's housing market and the proverbial "bank of Mum and Dad." While many aspire to co-live, combining two households can be a complicated and costly affair.
"It's an interesting part of the changing dynamics in our social and family life," Stephen Burke, the director of United for All Ages, a social affairs think tank, reflects. "This is something a lot of families want to do if they can. But the big thing is having a property that's suitable – big enough to have shared but also private space, and not everyone has that luxury. That's the biggest thing holding it back."
Purpose-Built Properties for Multigenerational Living
However, there is hope. Some purpose-built properties designed for multigenerational living do exist. One shining example is the architect firm PRP, which created 880 homes for the Chobham Manor neighborhood in Queen Elizabeth Park, East London. Seventy-five percent of these homes are three-story townhouses with a separate but linked annexe.
Nevertheless, government and local authorities offer "very little support" to multigenerational families in terms of public grants or tax incentives, as Burke points out. We must overcome these hurdles to see the trend flourish.
The Visionaries of Multigenerational Living
Specialised companies like iHus have emerged, positioning themselves as "the luxury granny annexe experts." Their all-timber structures are constructed in a factory offsite, significantly reducing costs. A two-bedroom bungalow costs approximately £150,000, including planning permission, before fixtures and fittings, often connected to the main house via decking.
Some may argue that the only drawback is that post is not delivered separately but through the main house, and the annexe or additional building is often owned by the children, not the parents anymore. However, CCHPR studies indicate that most people in multigenerational homes have a very high level of trust in their relatives and do not introduce any extra legal structures.
In a world full of possibilities and dreams, multigenerational living shines as an inspiring choice that brings families closer, nurtures the bonds between generations, and allows us to witness the collective growth of our loved ones. As we continue to face the challenges of space and finances, we must remember that dreams can become reality, and with the right support, this heartwarming trend can flourish. Multigenerational living is not just about cohabiting; it's about co-creating a better future, one filled with love, support, and shared memories.