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The In-Law Living Quarters: How Can You Make It Work?

March 4, 2019


American culture continues to evolve, but we’re also seeing a lifestyle trend that takes us back more than 60 years: the multigenerational household. More than 64 million people—20% of the American population—live in homes with two or more adult generations. Balancing all these adults can be a challenge. The in-law living quarters are a solution, but how can you make it work? Riverside Homebuilders has some suggestions for achieving the right balance.

Not since 1950 have we seen a blend of generations living under one roof. Back then, 21% of people in this country shared a home with other adult generations. Back then, it was the result of rebounding from World War II. Today, the aftermath of the Great Recession brought financial strain. The rise in healthcare costs has made it more cost-effective for aging parents to move in with their grown children. The cost of living independently seems to have hit the younger generation hard because they’re either moving back home or simply not leaving.

As homebuilders, we’ve seen this lifestyle change create the need for living space to accommodate multiple generations. In-law living quarters, in addition to the master suite, provide privacy and spaciousness. Still, it’s not just making room in your home, but making room in your lifestyle that makes it work.

Be clear on the rules.

You’ve heard it before: “When you’re living under MY roof….” It’s important to set parameters when you have many adults living together. They all want their independence, they all want to be heard. But while you have a multigenerational living situation, there just isn’t room for multiple heads of the household.

Discuss with everyone the rules you’ve lived by and why they’re important. If your parents or in-laws are moving in, be sure they understand your parenting approach so they don’t undermine you. At the same time, flexibility will go far in maintaining harmony. Bend a little when you can so that everyone feels they have a say in what’s happening.

Set goals.

Is the multigenerational living arrangement temporary? How long do you expect to be cohabitating? Maybe someone has financial or personal difficulties. They need to save money, settle into a new job, or just decide on their life path Is there a timeline to expect when they will be ready to move out? Leaving a temporary situation open-ended will likely extend it until things become difficult.

Set a monthly goal so there is an endgame in sight. How much can this young adult save each month? If the idea is to pay off a school loan, how long will it take? You don’t need to feel as though you’re rushing your child, but rather encouraging independence!

For aging parents, you might anticipate an increase in caregiving. Are you prepared to handle their needs for the long term? Is there a point when you can’t provide the level of care they need?

Share the tasks.

More adults mean more people to help with the chores. It’s not your job to do all the cooking, cleaning, laundry, and shopping. Have a family meeting and discuss who can and will take on responsibilities. Remember that older generations want to feel valuable, so give them a chance to contribute. Child care, meal planning, folding laundry, feeding pets, and washing dishes are a few ways they can pitch in.

Respect each other’s privacy.

There was a time when you kept a close watch on your children, to keep them safe. As adults, they expect more leeway. Give them privacy.

Older individuals who have lived independently find it hard to move in with a younger generation. They might feel compromised, so make sure you provide them with the space and comforts they need.

Right-size your home.

When life changes, your home might need to follow suit. Squeezing people into a home that doesn’t provide the space, features, and privacy you all need will lead to stressful situations. Waiting for the bathroom, losing control of the remote, and seeking a peaceful place to escape the noise can escalate into conflicts. Avoid the problem by looking for a home that fits your household.

If you’re house-hunting in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, Riverside Homebuilders has the solution. Our single-level floor plans accommodate people of all ages. We also have home designs to incorporate another master suite-like space, like the San Marcos and San Bernard floor plans. Riverside Homebuilders’ Bosque II and Comal have options to create this extra living area. Tell us what you need in your new home, and let’s find your home “suite” home.




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3045 Lackland Road Fort Worth, TX 76116
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