It’s no secret that the housing market is crazy right now.
It’s hard to find an affordable place for yourself without having any roommates or family members who want to live with you.
However, there are some great financial benefits to living in a multigenerational household that might not be so obvious at a first glance.
My wife and I have been living with my parents for almost a decade and in that period, we raised two young children while getting ourselves into a strong financial position by paying off all our student debt of $105,000 and saving & investing a significant portion of our income to reach financial security.
So let me break it down for you in this post and show you all the ways my wife, I and my parents saved money by deciding to live in a multigenerational household.
What Is a Multigenerational Household?
Before I get started, some of you guys might never have heard of this term “multigenerational household.” so let me explain before we go further.
A multigenerational household is an arrangement where two or more generations of a family is living together.
This can include parents with their adult children, grandparents and grandchildren, uncles and aunts with nieces/nephews…or any combination thereof.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s get started.
1 - Save On Childcare Cost
My wife and I started living with my parents close to a decade ago when my wife was pregnant with our first child.
Like many first time parents, we were going back and forth on a solution for childcare and struggled to find one that was optimal.
All of them would require either additional time (one of us would need to scale back our jobs) or additional money (reliable childcare is very expensive).
So, after a long discussion with my parents, we came to a mutually beneficial agreement to start living together – at least to get through this period.
My wife and I would take over my parents mortgage, which would relieve them of their housing cost, while my mom would provide built in child care for our son, which would relieve us of our childcare issue.
We paid her a market rate, but feel overall we saved money and time because we didn’t have deal with the drop off / pick up as well as all the hidden costs associated with a daycare facility (e.g. extra meal cost, uniform cost, late pickup fee, etc.)
We also felt good that that money was staying in the family instead of going to an external daycare facility.
The funny part of this story is that, she also made a hefty profit on this arrangement by subcontracting some of her friends to come over and do the actual work of child care while she supervised.
2 - Save On Housing And Utility Cost
This benefit is more for our parents since we took over most of the housing cost when we decided to live together.
But this regardless was a huge financial relief especially for my parents because it meant they didn’t need to worry about their month to month housing cost.
However, as a family as a whole, it was a saving nonetheless.
When you have one housing payment instead of 2 and one utility payment instead of 2, you save money overall – of course given you don’t have a home that is unnecessarily more than you need.
Also, since taking over the mortgage almost a decade ago, my parents have generously allowed the change the home title ownership to our name in exchange for having taken over the month to month housing cost.
Purchasing a home is an another stress point for many millennials and we are thankful that this multigenerational household arrangement allowed us to enter into home ownership sooner than it would have been possible.
Now, I’ll admit that my wife and I’s housing cost did increase when compared to the apartment rent that we were paying before, but we believe that without this multigenerational housing arrangement it would have taken us probably a decade before we could have afforded a home of our own.
Like anything in life, there are always tradeoffs and this was the tradeoff we decided to make.
3 - Split The Cost Of Groceries And Other Household Necessities
Another financial benefit of living in a multigenerational household is the ability to split some grocery and household expenses.
My wife and I still primarily buy groceries for our family of four and my parents buys what they want to eat.
But there are also things like toilet paper, dish soap, detergent etc. that everyone contributes to buying on a monthly basis.
We don’t have a hard and fast rule, but when any of us go to the grocery store or Costco for any reason, we always consider the whole family when purchasing common and shared household items that I listed earlier.
It’s not much but it definitely helps us save some money as well by not having two sets of those household necessities which would be required if we were living alone in our own places.
These little costs can really add up over time so this is another way multigenerational living can help you save more money.
4 - Share Household Chores With Other Family Members
Multigenerational living lets you share in the burden of household chores with other family members.
In our house, all four adults typically do our own dishes and we rotate who does everyone else’s to make sure that it gets done every day.
We also rotate who does the cooking for the whole family on a daily basis.
Once again we don’t have a hard and fast rule, but my mom is often in charge of making breakfast, my wife makes dinner while I’m often in charge of cooking lunch.
If you are just now entering into this arrangement, I would recommend coming up with an agreed upon routine with the family so you don’t have one person having the burden of all the household chores.
This sharing of household chores is an another great benefit to multigenerational living because it saves you time and money.
Time to spend with the family and money because without the additional help, we likely would have spent more in outsourcing some of the duties (e.g. ordering out more or hiring help).
5 - Parents Are There To Help You Take Care Of Your Kids When Needed
This benefit isn’t so financial, but more emotional.
The other major benefit of multigenerational living is the readily available built in child care support that comes with it.
This has been really helpful for us because there have been times when I or my wife had to travel out of town for work, which would leave one of us by ourself at home with the kids.
As many parents with young kids can attest to, it’s a real challenge trying to balance everything when you are alone – getting the kids fed, dressed, off to school and to bed. When you are trying to do this on top of a full time job, it can get really out of control.
It was at times like these when having my parents around was a real help.
Though they might be only able to help out little bit here and there, feeding the kids while I’m getting ready for work for picking up the kids couple days out of the week – the extra help was really helpful.
It’s also the feeling of security knowing that help is not too far away when we need it.
My wife and I rely on this arrangement as much as possible without overburdening my parents.
While there are some challenges associated to multigenerational living, I would say that these kind of benefits help to outweigh the costs many times.
I couldn’t imagine raising our kids without my parents around to help us and we are so grateful they are close enough for this multigenerational arrangement.
Of course, make sure you have clear agreement with your parents so you aren’t over burdening. When living in a multi-generational household, mutual respect is very important.
6 - Allow You To Focus On Growing Your Career And Your Income
Another benefit of multigenerational living, and this was the biggest benefit for us financially, is the ability to focus on growing your career and income.
When you’re living under the same roof with parents (one of the few people you trust with your kids), it becomes easier to focus on your full-time career.
Your parents can provide childcare for your kids while you work but help cover some extended gaps such as early mornings and late evenings; getting kids ready for pre school and helping the kids to go to sleep.
When our kids were young, both my wife and I were at the busiest time of our careers. It required many early morning commutes and sometimes a week long business trips.
This is very true for many young professionals in their 30s. We find that while we spend our 20s finding what direction we want to go in our life, the 30s is when your responsibilities both at home and work really grow – getting married, getting promoted, having kids, having more managerial responsibilities.
It would have been really hard to find a reliable childcare provider that could fill in the gaps for those early mornings and late evening commutes as well – but multigenerational living helped filled in the gaps!
This extra support allowed both of us to focus more on our careers and really get ahead in our fields which enabled us to increase our income and also save & invest a-lot of that growth.
To be completely transparent, multigenerational living is not easy. However, it also has many benefits.
Not only can you save money on housing, but you can share household tasks and allow you to focus on growing your career.
This multigenerational living arrangement has been a great experience for us and if you are willing, I would recommend it to anyone who’s struggling with the high cost of housing and also are looking to improve your finances.