The typical American has to dedicate one-third to one-half of their total income just to the roof over their head. Because of the rising costs of housing, nearly 76% of all Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. And for those who live in one of the most expensive states in the union, California residents have to get a bit more creative if they want to afford a home.
One solution? Next-gen housing. It’s essentially a home with an in-law suite, except it’s a bit roomier; the typical next-gen home has a separate two-bedroom suite, bathroom, kitchenette, and washer and dryer, all with its own entrance. It’s like having a home within a home or an on-site rental property meant for the grandparents.
While multi-generational living isn’t a new concept, it’s starting to become more popular. In 2013, around 7 million grandparents reported they lived with a grandchild — a significant increase from 13 years earlier when only 5.8 million elders said they cohabited with their grandkids. Now that home prices and childcare costs have skyrocketed, more Southern California families are entertaining the idea of multi-generational housing in order to save money while living in the type of home they’ve always wanted.
Los Angeles residents Paul and Jenna Esquer have two children and work full-time. The couple found that it would be nearly impossible for them to save the $20,000 to $30,000 needed for a down payment on a home, and the added financial stress of childcare and other expenses made them think they’d never have a house of their own.
But since the couple is close with Jenna’s parents and often relies on them to watch the children, they pitched the idea of going in on a next-gen home together. While the living arrangement might not work for every family, it works well for their situation. Everyone has access to the privacy they need but they’re able to reap all the benefits of spending time together and splitting expenses.
Grandpa Jim Miller says, “To us, it’s a very perfect scenario because we’re able to stay under one roof. We have separate residence, and we’re able to be with our grandchildren.”
Lennar Homes, a Southern California real estate developer, now has more than 40 different developments in the area that offer a next-gen model. While the models are ideal for multi-generational cohabitation, some homeowners utilize the extra space in these next-gen houses for studios, offices, or their kids who have come back home after college.
Although these situations can be ideal for many families, Jenna Esquer cautions that buyers shouldn’t opt for a multi-generational living arrangement simply for the sake of saving a bit of dough.
“If someone is doing it just for money or just for convenience, it might not work. But if it’s something you want, it works great.”