Is it really that unusual to be living with your children and your parents in one home? We take a look at this growing household trend…
Rising single parenthood, unemployment, insufficient pension savings, a high cost of living, the high cost of housing, the rise of the sandwich generation – there are a myriad complex reasons behind the growing trend of three generations living under one roof.
Looking abroad, this phenomenon isn’t that unusual. In the US, for example, the Pew Research Center found that 44% of America’s multigenerational households were those made up of three or more generations – homes where parents (one or both), children and grandparents all live together. In South Africa, the trend is slowly catching on. Stats SA’s 2017 General Household Survey found that 14,3% – to put it into perspective, that’s just over 2,3 million! – intergenerational households were those made up of three generations.
We chatted to one family about why they’re part of this growing movement…
Zoe Dunkley, 42, is a teacher and is married to Mark, a public sector worker. They live with their two young daughters and Zoe’s parents, Alan, 70, and Carlan, 66. Zoe says…
“In 2010, Mark and I were desperate to move house. We loved our cottage, but had outgrown it. The problem was, we couldn’t afford a bigger property in the same area. Plus, our home was just around the corner from my parents’ house.
“Then, one day, I had a light-bulb moment. What if we moved in with my parents and put the proceeds of our house sale towards a huge extension to allow us to all live together? As it turned out, despite having paid off their bond, my folks had real worries about the future. So, in 2011, we sold our house and moved in with them.
“We shared their property for two years before we began the building work. We wanted to make sure that we could all live in close proximity, and the financial situation was quite complex. The two-storey extension has transformed the property and it’s now worth far more.
“We all loved the idea of living together like a family in a TV series. I think it works because our schedules differ. My mom, Mark and I work, and my dad looks after our girls for us. Mark and I say it’s the best decision we’ve ever made and I’m confident our parents would agree.”
Zoe’s mother, Carlan, says…
“We have only gained from our decision to live together. I think it works for us because of the mix of characters. Both my husband and son-in-law are laid-back and all of us are good communicators. Our relationship with Zoe is rock solid but, even so, we spent time with a lawyer discussing the ins and outs. We talked about illness and there is an understanding that Zoe and Mark will care for us for as long as they can.
“At the moment, we go 50-50 on bills, but when I retire, Mark and Zoe will take on the bills. If anything went wrong with Mark and Zoe’s relationship, Mark would get out what he has put into the bond. I’m so glad we made this move.”
What’s your experience living in a three-generational household? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook.
Words: Stephanie Clarkson; Stacey Love