Millennials Staying at Home: How Multigenerational Living Impacts Multifamily

Talk of younger generations moving into their first homes always gets an ear in the multifamily industry. But many 25- and 35-year-old Millennials are likely to stay at home longer than previous generations or move back into the family nest.

A recent Pew Research Center survey notes that 15 percent of these Millennials are living in their parents’ home, 5 percent more than Generation Xers reported in 2000 and nearly double those at that age in 1964. According to U.S. Census data, Millennials are also staying at home longer: 91 percent lived at the same address a year earlier versus 86 percent of Gen Xers 16 years ago.

When young adults return to the nest, they’re staying about three years, up six months based on data collected from 2005-13.

Why young adults are living at home boils down economics, Pew says. Difficulty fitting into the labor market, the cost of living by themselves and debt obligations keep them from flying away. Less-educated younger adults are also more likely to find themselves still at home or returning, unlike their college-educated counterparts who have greater earning potential.

Multigenerational household needs grow as Millennials stay longer

The information suggests a pendulum swing in multigenerational living for Boomers. The aging of America has created more multigenerational households in recent years. Parents who spawned the Boomer generation are living longer and even moving into their children’s homes, often for assistance. The shift has created a sub-market for multigenerational living spaces that exceed the traditional mother-in-law room.

In addition to caring for a parent, Boomers now may be providing space for their adult kids. The one- or two-generation combo can create a challenge, say builders and designers.

The housing industry is putting that concern to the test with a concept home designed to blend sustainability and new construction platforms for multigenerational living. The reNEWable home, a yearlong project to debut in January at the 2018 International Builder’s Show in Orlando, will intersect these diverse generations, according to the project’s backers, BUILDER magazine and Meritage Homes.

To be built at The Estates of Parkside near the Orlando Convention Center, the two-story house will be 5,188 square feet with seven bedrooms, 5 1/2 baths and four garages and neighbor $538,000-$676,000 homes. While the price hasn’t been established, a household income of around $175,000 is required, say the project sponsors.

Architects at BSB Design were tasked with imagining how a “Sandwich Generation” household would function. The vision became a plan that includes an in-laws or adult children suite plus a revenue suite for a renter, in addition to the owner’s quarters. The layout will promote opportunities for togetherness but also give everybody his or her own space.

Technology is a player as well. The home will teach its residents how to use it for optimal comfort, livability, entertainment and function. Software will connect residents to a “vibrant self-renewing neighborhood.”

Along the way, BUILDER will dig deep into multigenerational home buyer preference trends and determine the demand for this type of product.

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The trick is finding right combination of space that stimulates each generation

The project is no secret, but the unveiling is rousing curiosity. The red carpet will roll out not far from the Magic Kingdom.

How will the reNEWable home harmonize one-, two- or three-generation households with permanent living arrangements? The multifamily housing industry will be watching.

While the obvious market for multigenerational living appears to be the traditional custom-built home, the concept could be applied to apartment living. Multifamily communities with a suburban flare and design could get in on the action.

Until recent years in the U.S., the blending of mom and dad, son and daughter and/or grandma and grandpa has been limited to a few hours at family reunions. Asking for a permanent living arrangement for these folks would seem to send this new household formation phenomenon packing.

Finding the right combination of space that stimulates each generation to live within their preferences is the trick.

Ah, to be a fly on the multigenerational wall in Orlando next January.


Contributing Editor, Property Management Insider
President, Ballpark Impressions, LLC

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Tim Blackwell is a long-time publishing and printing executive in the Dallas/Fort Worth area who writes about the multifamily housing and transportation industries. He has contributed numerous articles to Property Management Insider, and worked as a newspaper reporter in the D/FW area. Blackwell is president of Ballpark Impressions, and publishes the Cowcatcher Magazine. He is a member of the Fort Worth Chapter/Society of Professional Journalists.

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