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multigenerational living

12 facts on multigenerational living in the US

MoneyRates.com Senior Financial Analyst, CFA
December 03, 2014

Despite the oft-cited pressures that can come with these arrangements, most Americans say they are open to sharing their homes with either their adult children or elderly parents, according to a new survey by MoneyRates.com.

The vast majority of respondents in the survey say that they would be willing -- although not necessarily happy -- to take either an adult child or elderly parent into their homes to live. Additionally, most of those who have let an adult child move back home say they are glad they did so.

Americans' apparent willingness to share their homes with other generations makes sense given recent trends in multigenerational living. The number of Americans in multigenerational households doubled between 1980 and 2012, reaching an all-time high of 57 million people, according to the Pew Research Center.

Still, respondents to the MoneyRates.com study indicate that there are some limits to their willingness to accept these arrangements. Here are some of the top findings uncovered by the survey.

1. A third of parents say their kids will never be too old to live at home

When asked how old is too old for a child still to be living with his or her parents, 33 percent say there is no age limit. Twenty-somethings may not want to get too comfortable on Mom's couch though -- 58 percent say a child should be out of the house by age 30.

2. The vast majority would let a 30-year-old move in due to hardship

However, 85 percent of respondents say they would allow their 30-year-old child to move back home if financial reasons were the cause. Sons and daughters of the other 15 percent, however, would likely do better to check with their friends or in-laws instead.

3. The maternal instinct runs especially strong

If you're an adult child who needs to ask about moving back home, your chances are pretty good with either parent. But for the best results, you may want to start with your mother. Eighteen percent of men say they would refuse to let a 30-year-old child move back home, compared with less than 12 percent of women who say the same.

4. Only about half are OK with an indefinite stay

Among parents who would let adult kids move home, nearly half of them say would put some time limit on it. While 51 percent say their children can stay as long as they like, 49 percent of parents say they would want them out in a year or less.

5. Daughters are more welcome than sons

Guys, you may want to get your feet off the coffee table and do your laundry a little more often, because it seems your sister is more welcome to move back than you are. In fairness, most parents say a son or a daughter would be equally welcome, but among parents with a preference, 60 percent say they would rather have a daughter move back home, compared with 40 percent who say they would prefer a son.

6. Most say a son-in-law or daughter-in-law is welcome too

Parents don't just welcome their own kids with open arms. Of those who would let a 30-year-old child move home, 72 percent say it would be OK if that child brought a spouse or other partner along as well.

7. The biggest worry is for the son's or daughter's development

Asked what concerns they would have about an adult child living at home, 45 percent say the biggest worry would be the child's failure to fully live his or her own life. Loss of privacy and financial strain were lesser considerations among respondents.

8. Nearly a third of parents have already taken in adult offspring

Many parents have already followed though on their welcoming words. Thirty-two percent say they have had an adult child live with them for an extended period.

9. Few regret the experience of having an adult child at home

Of those who tried it, just 17 percent say they regret it. Forty-two percent viewed it as a necessary inconvenience, while 40 percent say they enjoyed it. Again, mothers appeared slightly more tolerant here: Only 10 percent of them say they regret welcoming a child back home.

10. Elderly parents evoke more stress than adult children

Forty-six percent say taking in either an adult child or an elderly parent would be equally stressful, but 39 percent say having a parent move in would be more stressful, compared with just 15 percent who say an adult child would be more stressful.

11. Still, the vast majority would let a parent come live with them

Forty-eight percent of respondents say they would be happy to do it, while another 31 percent say they would be willing -- but not happy -- to accept this arrangement.

12. The in-laws, however, might not be so welcome

Twenty-two percent of respondents say they would allow their own parents to move in, but not their spouse's parents. Conversely, 9 percent say they would be OK with an in-law moving in, but not their own parents.

In part, the lingering impact of the Great Recession continues to affect people's living arrangements in the U.S. Still, it seems that most American families are up to the challenge of dealing with these hardships.

This MoneyRates.com study was conducted by Op4G. It polled more than 1,900 U.S. adults, with an equal split between men and women, in September 2014.

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