Episode #4: Three Generations, One Roof: Living Together is Financially Savvy

December 8, 2015 · 25:45
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“Are you sure you want to live with your mother-in-law?”

That was the question that Saundra Plett asked her son-in-law a few years ago.

Saundra and her husband, Dwight Miyake, were teachers in Fresno, California.  Their daughter, Emily and her husband Aric lived in Washington D.C.  When Emily and Aric started a family some four years ago, Saundra and Dwight decided to leave their hometown, a lifetime of friends and their careers in California behind to move to D.C. Three generations moved into a home and began living together under one roof.

In this episode of Unretirement, we hear how the finances and the relationships of a multigenerational home work.  The benefits are significant:  Grandparents get to age in place; working adult children have trusted help with childcare; and grandchildren build close relationships with their grandparents.

Chris also talks with environmental gerontologist, Esther Greenhouse, an expert on the connection between our homes and our well-being as we age.

We’ll learn:

  • What’s behind the trend in multigenerational housing?
  • What families need to have in place to make sharing a home work for everyone?
  • The benefits and challenges of a multigenerational home.
  • How to plan ahead for a smooth transition to a multigenerational home.

Our listener question comes from Elizabeth in St. Paul, MN.  She asks about the finances of buying a home with her parents and how to make sure that her brother is treated fairly if their parents’ estate is still tied up in their shared home.


Explore additional resources from this episode:

A source for basic data on multigenerational family homes is Pew Research Center’s report, In Post-Recession Era, Young Adults Drive Continuing Rise in Multi-Generational Living by Richard Fry and Jeffrey Passel.

Generations United is a Washington D.C.-based organization that promotes common interests among different age groups

The website of environmental gerontologist Esther Greenhouse is www.esthergreenhouse.com


Books on generations living under one roof:

All in the Family: A Practical Guide to Successful Multigenerational Living, by Sharon Graham Niederhaus and John L. Graham.

Under One Roof Again: All Grown Up and (Re)learning to Live Together Happily by Susan Newman


With the multigenerational trend gathering momentum, articles are a rich resource to tap for insight and information. Here are some suggested articles:

Running a Second-Act Business With Your Kid: Combining complementary skills of two generations can be a recipe for success by Chris Farrell

When the Best Place to Retire Is Near Your Kid: The move can bring you joy, but first run the numbers by Chris Farrell

The Sensible Resurgence of the Multigenerational Home by Chris Farrell

Full House: A Guide to Surviving Multigenerational Living Three generations under one roof brings more of everything: bodies, stress—but also love by Robyn Griggs Lawrence

How to Make Multi-Generational Housing Work for Your Family by Beth Braverman

Demand rises for properties that can house more than one generation by Michele Lerner

Making Room for Mom and Dad by Anne Tergesen  

The state of multi-generational living. A discussion and calls on Minnesota Public Radio


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This week we want to know:

Have you ever considered a multigenerational household? What’s stopping you from trying it out?  

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