Full House: The Potential of Multi-Generational Living Arrangements

With the cost of living skyrocketing across the world, especially in the most attractive cities, living on their own proves an unaffordable challenge for increasing numbers of young people. Meanwhile, at the other end of the demographic spectrum, more and more people aged 65+ experience similar difficulties with their living arrangements, albeit for different reasons – they often struggle with loneliness, physical impairment, or simply too much space for themselves. The mutually beneficial solution is obvious – and not without historical precedent: Why not try inter-generational living?

Although most westerners might no longer share a home with their extended family, living under one roof with your children, parents, and even grandparents – sometimes up to five generations – remains popular around the world. We tend to forget that a mere hundred years ago, society’s current focus on individuality and shaping your own life did not enjoy the same priority. As recently as 1900, living with several generations was still the norm in Germany, France, or Britain due to the realities – and restrictions – of prevalent work and living arrangements. Yet while many non-western societies, especially those with a strong agrarian slant, still champion multi-generational households, modernization and globalization are making quick inroads on this tried-and-tested model.