Most multigenerational households are made up of two adult generations, typically parents and their adult children. (Photo: Bigstock).
Most multigenerational households are made up of two adult generations, typically parents and their adult children. (Photo: Bigstock).
Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder
Tom Kalinski, RE/MAX of Boulder

Old is new again when it comes to mutigenerational households.

Given the demographic and economic forces at work, it’s no surprise that grandparents, parents, and adult children are living together. In fact, a record 64 million Americans lived in multigenerational households in 2016, according to Pew Research Center analysis of census data.

While once a way of life, like the nostalgic Waltons TV series (Goodnight JohnBoy), the pattern toward multigenerational living shifted some years ago. The percentage of U.S. residents living in a multigenerational household – defined as including two or more adult generations, or including grandparents and grandchildren younger than 25 – declined from 21 percent in 1950 to a low of 12 percent in 1980, reports Pew Research.

But from 1980 to today, the number of multigenerational family homes has grown. The category increased sharply during and right after the Great Recession of 2007-2009. In 2014, 60.6 million Americans – 19 percent of the U.S. population – were part of multigenerational homes, according to the last major Pew Research Center analysis of this data.

Growth is occurring among nearly all U.S. racial groups, including Hispanics. However, Asian and Hispanic people are more likely to live in multigenerational homes. The U.S. is experiencing an increase in racial and ethnic diversity, which contributes to the rise in multigenerational households, according to Pew Research.

Most multigenerational households are made up of two adult generations, typically parents and their adult children. Since the adult children in this statistic are ages 25 and older, this generally does not include college students or recent grads living at home.

An aging population also adds to those sharing a home with multiple generations. At least one fifth of older Americans – including ages 55 to 64 and 65 and older – no longer live alone compared to 1990.

Why the shift toward adult family members sharing a home?

There are the usual suspects of increased cost of housing and people living longer. Additionally, steady income in the form of Social Security and related government payments create a stability that may not exist in today’s labor market, according to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP).

Fortunately, housing developers are paying attention to this cultural shift. The folks at Home and Garden TV (HGTV) say here’s what you can expect to see:

More bedrooms

Remember the McMansions that sprang up in the 90s? They may have the last laugh. The larger footprints can accommodate the additional space needed for multigenerational living. For example, large two-story entrance foyers converted into living space on the second floor.

Fewer walk-in closets

Overall, the mantra will be to add living space without increasing price. Space for walk-in closets will be sacrificed.

Either the living room or family room will go.

That rarely used space will go in the name of more bedrooms. It’s not such a bad thing to do away with a room that is almost never used.

More information


By Tom Kalinski. Tom is the owner and founder of RE/MAX of Boulder, the local residential real estate company he established in 1977. He was inducted into Boulder County’s Business Hall of Fame in 2016 and has a 40-year background in commercial and residential real estate. For questions, e-mail Tom at tomkalinski33@gmail.com, call 303.441.5620 or visit boulderco.com.