Exclusive AARP poll reveals new trends in multigenerational housing, impact of down economy  

March 04, 2009 |

WASHINGTON, D.C. - (March 3, 2009) – With Americans of all ages feeling the effects of the economic crisis and the plummeting housing market, mutigenerational households may become more prevalent in the coming years. AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for 50+ America, today released the results of an exclusive new survey that looks at housing trends and how the economy may be impacting adults' living situations.  More than 1,000 people age 18 and older were surveyed about who they live with, how likely it is that they will need to move in with another family member or friend, and how comfortable they would be living with additional friends or family members if that would become necessary.

The results show a direct relation between a loss of income and young adults who are moving back home with their parents after a period of independence. Additional key findings include:

* Multigenerational Housing: 11% of people age 50+ live with their grandchildren or their parents.

* "Boomerang Adults”: 11% of people age 35-44 report living with their parents or their in-laws. 

* Why People Move: 34% of people who said that they would likely have to move in with family or friends said that it would be due to a loss of income.

"The recession is having an impact on people of all ages, and the effects are starting to be felt at home,” said Jim Toedtman, Vice President and Editor of AARP Bulletin. "We see more people living under the same roof as their parents and their adult children. As Americans face tougher economic conditions, we'll likely see more of this.”  

Results of AARP Bulletin's Multigenerational Housing survey suggest that as jobs continue to disappear and the foreclosure crisis continues, millions of 50+ Americans will be living with their adult children and grandchildren in multigenerational homes. 

Multigenerational Housing and Boomerang Adults The survey found that that 4% of people age 50+ are currently living with their grandchildren.  Results also showed 33% of respondents age 18-49 live with parents or in-laws. A further analysis of this group showed 11% of respondents age 35-44 live with parents or in-laws.  Of those respondents, 9% report living with their parents and 2% reporting living with their in-laws.

Likelihood of Moving in With Others

When asked how likely it is that they may need to move in with family members or friends or have family members or friends move in with them, 15% said that it was likely.  Among those who thought it would be likely, the largest percentage—about one-third (34%)— said it would be due to a loss of income, 19% said that it would be due to a change in job status and 8% cited home foreclosure as the reason.

Results also showed that respondents between 18 and 34 are more likely than older respondents to have already made such a move (20% vs. 9% for those age 35-44; 8% for those 45-54; 9% for those 55-64; and 7% for those 65+).

Comfort in Living with Additional Friends or Family Members Roughly one in seven (14%) respondents said they would not be very comfortable, and nearly three in ten (29%) would not be at all comfortable living with additional friends or family members. In contrast, 14 % said they would be extremely comfortable and 14% said they would be very comfortable if such a change in housing became necessary.  More than a quarter (27%) of respondents said they would be somewhat comfortable with such an arrangement. 

AARP's Tips for Managing Finances and Living in Multigenerational Households

1. Prepare your home. Does your home work for everyone, young or old? 

Can your house accommodate someone who might find climbing stairs a challenge or who might need a walk-in shower or a single-handle faucet? 

www.aarp.org/homedesign has information to make your house safer and more comfortable for everyone.

2. Prepare your family. Communication is the key to peaceful multigenerational living. Have regular family conferences to discuss issues before they become problems. Before moving in together, ask family members of all ages to talk about how they expect life to change, including what they want, what they are excited about and what they're nervous about. Be specific: If grandparents are helping with child care, how much time will they spend babysitting? How do family members want to handle cooking and mealtimes? It's a great way to see where friction may occur and to head it off at the pass.

3. A place for everyone and everyone in their place. Decide how the living space in your home will be used. It's important that grandparents and grandchildren have their own places—bedrooms, sitting rooms, or even corners of rooms—for favorite chairs, places to watch TV, or study areas for homework. 

4. Let them live their own lives. This is important whether your parents are highly active and independent or if they are being cared for.

Opportunities to see friends, continue activities they enjoy and having downtime are important at any age.

5. Get in a groove. Consistency will help minimize the inevitable disruptions. Keep to routines such as mealtimes and bedtime rituals.

Parents—and grandparents—should also plan one-on-one time with their children and time for themselves to keep up with their interests.

6. Make a play date. Facilitate grandparent–grandchild interactions.

Many times, especially when living together, grandparents and children develop special, shared interests that create bonds and positive memories.

7. Don't get caught in the middle. Often, parents are in no-man's- land trying to please the older and younger generations.  You can't be expected to take care of everyone if you are running on empty. Get plenty of rest, make your time a priority and get support if you need it from a caregiving-support group.

8. Be realistic. Only so much furniture can fit in a house; people can only be expected to change so much over a lifetime; teens are going to want to hang out with their grandparents only so much; elders will be willing to handle only a certain volume level on the stereo; there are only 24 hours in a day; and you can be in only one place at a time, no matter how much everyone needs you.

9. Make memories. Capitalize on the opportunities you have with multiple generations in the household.  Share stories, look at photos, research family history and record these things on audiotape or in a video. Have fun and treasure the time. Although multigenerational households may be an increasing trend, you can enjoy opportunities many families will never have.

Additional information on can be found in the March 2009 issue of AARP Bulletin, in homes now, and online at http://www.aarp.org/research/housing-mobility/affordability/multigen_hou....

AARP Bulletin's Multigenerational Housing Survey was conducted by International Communications Research, Inc. (ICR) in January 2009.

A short telephone survey among a nationally representative sample of adults ages 18 and older was taken to learn more about housing patterns and their options about how their own housing situation may change in the next year. The total sample consisted of 1,002 adults who are 18 and older.

About AARP Bulletin

The definitive news source for AARP's 40 million members, AARP Bulletin

(http://bulletin.aarp.org/) reaches more than 24 million households each month in print, with additional news and in-depth coverage online.

Covering health and health policy, Medicare, Social Security, consumer protection, personal finance, and AARP state and national news developments, AARP Bulletin delivers the story behind the key issues confronting 50+ America. The monthly consumer-oriented news publication has become a must- read for congressional lawmakers and Washington opinion leaders, and it provides AARP members with pertinent information they need to know. AARP Bulletin Today is the daily go-to news Web site for AARP's 40 million members and Americans 50+.

About AARP

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 34 million readers; AARP Bulletin and AARP Bulletin Today, the go-to daily news source for AARP's 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our Web site, AARP.org. AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Media Contact:

Michelle Alvarez, 202.434.2555, malvarez@aarp.org Meghan Holston, 212.382.4450, meghan.holston@coburnww.com

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