Call it intergenerational, multi-generational or 3-generation, it is the new buzz word for housing developers, at least for those who have been keeping a watchful eye on demographic trends.
Many seniors today are used to being independent and living in their own homes. When they retire they are reluctant to move in with their adult children. Much as they love their children and grandchildren and enjoy their company, at the end of the day they want their own space and privacy. A home with boisterous children and noisy teenagers is not exactly a haven for older people looking for some peace and quiet to enjoy their twilight years.
Adult children, on the other hand, constantly worry about their ageing parents living on their own. What if the latter need medical care? Or provisions? What if there’s an emergency?
One solution is the intergenerational home – a single house with two separate self-contained units, the smaller unit for the elderly parents. In the US, more extended families are living together under one roof. For many, the move is to cut costs. In Malaysia, however, a more popular option is for the parents to sell off the family home and purchase a unit close to their children’s home.
A rich relative of mine has a house with a garden so big he could build an annexe in one corner for his parents. I also know of a couple, both professionals, who bought two adjacent apartment units, so they could have their parents live literally next door!
The benefits of intergenerational living are mutual. Adult children can look after their parents much more easily, and enjoy some peace of mind at work. Their parents can help to babysit and keep an eye on their home when the family is away on vacation.
An advertisement for a 3-generation home in Kuala Lumpur
Of course such ideal living arrangements don’t come cheap. For those of us who can’t afford the luxury of living in a two-in-one home, the next best thing is to have a home with two master bedrooms with attached bathrooms. A local property developer has already started building such homes. Time will tell if this trend catches on.