The Idea of an Empty Nest Is Fading


So-called empty nesters are finding their homes aren’t so empty anymore. While the kids may have gone off to college, they’re coming back. Also, aging parents are moving in. It’s a full nest as multigenerational households soar.

About 19 percent of all Americans – or about 60.6 million – lived in a multigenerational household in 2014, according to a newly released Pew Research Center report. Multigenerational households may be comprised of parents, adult children, and grandchildren.

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“We’re getting back to the way human beings have always lived in – extended families,” says John Graham, co-author of “Together Again: A Creative Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living.”

Part of the surge behind multigenerational households is an increase in ethnic minorities, who are more likely to have more generations sharing a roof. About 28 percent of Asians and 25 percent of both Hispanics and blacks shared a household with extended families in 2014 compared to just 15 percent of whites, according to the Pew report.

“As the face of America is changing, so are family structures,” says Donna Butts, executive director of Generations United, an advocacy group for intergenerational programs and housing. “It shouldn’t be a taboo or looked down upon if grown children are living with their families or older adults are living with their grown children.”

Builders are paying close attention to the shift. More builders are putting a suite on the first floor, which sometimes also has a separate entrance and kitchenette. They’re also finding more clients asking for a detached suite with a separate walkway that connects to the main house.

Source: “Bye-Bye, Empty Nests: Multigenerational Living Is on the Rise,”® (Aug. 15, 2016)