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MultiGen Housing in Clark County, WA - Tips from Our Family to Yours

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Guess what’s more than a passing trend? Multigenerational families living together in the US. According to the Pew Research Center, 49 million people now live in multigenerational homes. You can count us in those numbers.

Family members and friends laughed when my sister and I told them we planned to purchase a home together to share in the responsibilities of caring for our aging parents. After all, we both have husbands too. Some predicted rough roads ahead.

It’s nearly a year later and we not only love each other more than ever, but enjoy one another more than ever. How’s that for a testament to Multi-generational living? We think our lifestyle offers numerous rewards and benefits, however we’ve discovered some important guidelines in our own journey of “together again” with mom and dad.

A need for Privacy!

First of all, we all recognize the need for privacy and space. Cheri and her husband live on their own private level of nearly 1700 square feet. We have the upper floor with the same square footage. We both have a separate entrances too. We are respectful of the different households and give one another the courtesy of privacy.

Currently, mom and dad are sharing the space with us while their backyard cottage is being built. It’s supposed to be finished this Fall. In order to make this time less stressful, we  have converted one bedroom into their study for TV viewing, reading, and computer time. They also have a bedroom and private bath.  It works remarkably well.

Good Communication.

It’s important to be forthcoming about any issues or hard feelings that pop up. Misunderstanding can take on a life of their own without honest dialog. Often, we can see another side when we take the time to listen. Since dad has dementia, we often check in with mom to ensure she’s getting the right support.

Establish Expectations.

Our financial responsibilities are shared, but the percentage of monthly responsibility is smaller for our parents. Large purchases are discussed as a group – and the cost sharing is generally equal between the 3 couples.

It’s not something that impacts our particular situation, but it’s also important to discuss the social-life aspect of sharing a property. Imagine the partying family member who wants to entertain every weekend from dusk until dawn – that has the potential to cause big problems.

Who cooks, who mows the lawn, who transports the garbage to the end of the driveway? You get it, the division of responsibility is also an important factor to consider. For example, my sister and I trade off nights of hosting our parents for dinner. Every Sunday, we alternate and have a family supper at one of our homes.  It’s actually pretty fun.

( Part 2 – next Sunday)

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