Kirsty McLuckie on how to make living with parents work

Would you move in with your in-laws, your parents or even your grandparents? For many, the very idea might fill them with horror, but for a growing number of households, the age-old tradition of multi-generational living solves a lot of modern day problems. 
Image: Adobe StockImage: Adobe Stock
Image: Adobe Stock

Figures vary on just how widespread two generations of adults living in the same house is, but a survey last year showed around a third of households in the UK have this set-up. The most common type is where adult children are still living at home with parents, accounting for nearly two in five multi-generational homes.

After all, the average age to permanently fly the nest is now 25, whereas 20 years ago it was 21. One in ten 30- to 34-year-olds are still living with their folks – although it isn’t disclosed whether that is through choice or necessity.

But it cuts both ways. The proportion of older relatives moving in with younger family members now accounts for 1.28 million homes across the UK and that has been increasing steadily since the start of the century.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics show that all types of multi-generational living is on the increase, with many of the households with this set-up choosing to combine two or more independent nuclear families to form a larger, more loosely-related living plan.

Construction company Make Room Outside has just published a survey commissioned to uncover the reasons behind the rise, and while as you would expect in a cost of living crisis, finances do play a factor, moving in with a member of your family to save money is actually only fifth on the list of reasons given.

Care giving, when an older relative is in poor physical health, is the biggest factor, cited in a third of cases.

Combating loneliness, creating a support system and reinforcing family bonds are all key reasons too, and in many cases the care is sought by the younger adult members of the family, whether that is because of physical or mental health issues.

Debt, redundancy and relationship breakdowns all result in an increased instance of combining households, while having in-house help with childcare can be a boon in these times of a rising nursery and out-of-school care costs.

But choosing to live with your own parents or adult children, however much you get on, can create friction – which can be exacerbated if you add in an in-law or two.

However, there are ways to renovate or extend a property in order to future proof it for any eventuality.

Creating privacy and separate spaces, such as multiple living spaces and bathrooms, are important considerations when implementing a multi-generational home.

From adding a granny flat to converting an outhouse, constructing a new wing, or opting for a garden annexe, there are many different options to provide additional living space, and done correctly,  each one should also positively impact the value of your property.

Adding an extra kitchen, bedroom and bathroom in an annex for instance, can add up to 20 per cent.

Ryan Crossley, director at Make Room Outside, points out that any new permanent living accommodation needs planning permission, although he advises that something like a garden room, if not slept in overnight, does not.

Creating a second sitting room in the garden for an occasional escape might be crucial in saving every family member’s sanity, however long the living arrangements endures.

- Kirsty McLuckie is property editor at The Scotsman

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