Frugal Living » Multi-Generational Living

Multi-Generational Living

fb iconpinterest iconpinterest iconlinkedin iconbuffer icon

Four years ago we sold everything, quit our jobs, and moved in with my husband’s parents. At 38 years old we became the “basement dwellers”. For us it was not an economic necessity nor was it a health need on the part of his parents. This change in the way we live came about because of a discussion about priorities and some soul-searching. These are the questions we asked ourselves:

1. What is the most important thing in your life?
For us, our family matters most of all.

2. What do you really want?

We want to just enjoy being with the people we love.

3. Are you where you really want to be?


My husband had been on the phone with his mother and when I came home from work he asked me if I was happy. It turns out neither one of us was. Life was a constant grind. We were always in a hurry to get somewhere but never really getting there. We didn’t have time to just kick back and enjoy. Within one month we completely changed the way we lived.

I have found that with the recession many other adults are moving back in with their parents. For most, it is due to financial reasons. Interestingly enough, once they are back on their feet many families have no desire to split back up. The recession has caused Americans to go back to living arrangements they had prior to WWII. Multi-generational homes were the norm. It was in the years after the war families began to split into smaller units and a stigma was associated with those who stayed at home.

There are a lot of advantages to combining households. Older adults who have retired find the younger ones enlivening and are glad to feel useful. They provide child care, handle light housework, and are able to teach all of the younger family members a lot of useful things. For the working adults, housing costs are lower, the children have more security, there is less stress, and there is always someone around to lend a hand with things.

Disadvantages aren’t as many as you’d think, it is mainly setting the ground rules for everyone and following them. Most people that decide to live under the same roof find the transition causes no change in their relationship. Others need to adjust the parent/child dynamic. A very small minority finds it impossible to combine households with the folks.

So, how is it working for us?

We have 4 generations living in our home and we get along well. My husband’s parents are camping out in Florida until winter is over. Grandma, age 92, loves having family around her and is never lonely. There are a lot of things she can no longer do but she bosses me around in the kitchen and folds the laundry. Our daughter loves the stories her grandparents and great-grandmother share with her.

We are where we really want to be.

Photo Credit: HerbLady

View More Frugal Living Ideas

15 thoughts on “Multi-Generational Living”

  1. we are multigenerational too, i never left home and live with my husband and youngest in a home with my mom. we had live in childcare and 1/2 of the financial responsibilities of a home. It freed up a lot of money we could use to provide our kids with things they would not otherwise have.

    mom was recently diagnosed with alzheimers and that is really hard especially on my youngest who has to see her declining mental capeabillities on a daily basis. My oldest reaped from the benefits of having grandma and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, and I think that my youngest will learn a valuable lesson in caring for others as we all give back to grandma the wonderful gifts she has given us.

  2. this is wonderful. i lived with my grandmother after my divorce with my 2 small boys. That was the most wonderful time we had.

    She loved caring for them and helping out. This arrangement would have stayed, but I met my husband and gained 3 more beautiful children. We moved to our own home & would have loved her coming with us, but she wanted to stay in her home.

    We lost her about 1 1/2 years ago and I find peace in the memories of the time I lived with her.

  3. i love how your families worked this out. it is wonderful. i am the eldest of six, and i was lucky to know my grandparents, and 2 great grandparents, and all of my 13 aunts and uncles.

    No need to post I have LOTS of cousins!! My paternal grandparents lived on our farm, 1/4 mile from our house….might as well have been one house. Because of Gramma I know how to cook, clean, sew, garden, and finish what I start.

    I learned a great deal from my other family. The most inportant is that family comes first. <3

  4. eight years ago, i married my husband and gained his wonderful mother (my choice.) now that i’m 65 and she’s 88, I relish each day that the three of us have together. Prior to my marriage, my parents lived with me in another state for 5 years. All of the multigenerational years had difficult times and wonderful experiences as well.

    If you have the heart for caring for others and are mature enough to surrender an “I’m # 1” philosophy, this is a wonderful way to live.

  5. i have my mom living with me when i started my family. she helped me raise my kids and life was great. she loved her grand kids but she passed away sooner than expected.

    i hope one of my kids would still remember how great it was growing up with grandma and consider giving me and my husband the opportunity of sharing their family.

  6. my husband and i have been married for 23 years and I had his mother move in with us 2 years ago! At first it was fine she is 67years old and healthy so we shared the house work. Then she became very bossy and became my mother too!

    I was able to handle it most days but my husband couldn’t handle his mother bitching about me when I would leave to do dialysis on my father during the day. He wanted her to move out! It finally got to the point where I walked into my own home I felt I was walking on eggshells!

    Wasn’t at all comfortable in my house. I told her she had to find somewhere else to live but it was only so we can all love eachother and sty as a close family! It was the best thing for us all.

    She moved oout she is happy now and we talk everyday!Love shower

  7. i’d give anything to have a close nit family like this. appreciate what you have before it is all gone. grandparents are essential to a childs life.

    none of which my kids will ever know.

  8. for many years my mother lived with my girls and i after i became a single parent. it worked well for us. she had never driven in her life and on one of my days off we went shopping and for a “rideess round” as we used to call it.

    that was we got a little lunch together and went where ever the car took us and home again. when the girls were out of school we’d make sure we went to places they loved and we all enjoyed that day so much.
    also it meant that we ate all our suppers together. i’d get out what we were going to have and set it up in the oven and mom would turn it on.

    in summer often mom would have a picknic supper ready for me, that she and the girls made and we would head out to a near by park and have supper out. made a lovely change and when we came home it was like we had had a mini holiday. sadly my mother passed away some years ago, and i still miss her, but oh, was i lucky to have had her for so many years.
    i envy those of you who still have your parents with you.

  9. i so enjoyed this article. i wanted to say that i am convinced that you made the right decision and i know that although there may be some difficult and stressful times, there would be (no matter where you live) anyway. being together, will make getting through those tough times easier, and encourage growth from the experiences instead of dread, loneliness and despair.

    so many of us today think that the answer is in making ourselves the priority. i think that god knows what he tells us to do, is better than anything we can think of on our own. we need to focus on others, lose ourselves and our own problems in consideration, love and service to others.

    as we practice those things, everyone around us benefits, perhaps ourselves the most. as more and more people take the opportunity to live multi-generationally, i
    like to hope that we will return to many of the pre-wwi ways of dealing with life. they did it; and we can do it. we just have to take our faces out of the mirror and notice the people around us.

  10. how wonderful for you. i’m glad it is working for you!
    my husband and i have raised our family of three children living very close to both our families. both our families got to see our children often and have a part in their life.

    we feel very blessed to have been so close. now all three of our children live in a different state. our three grand daughters live a full days drive from us.

    we don’t get to see them as often as we would like but we stay in touch often. as our parents have aged, we have made it a point to stay close so we can help them as often as they need.

  11. loved this! my husband and i have always stated we wanted to help both sets of parents if that time came. my parents live 3300 miles away and my husband’s parents live 2000 miles away.

    When his parents were discussing selling their home in order to continue to save and continue to use their retirement finances; we did broach the subject with them. There was some hesitation for my mil but my fil was all excited. (they live near their daughter, but their other son lives with his family about 4-5 hour drive away from us.) He was wanting to spend time with his boys.

    It hasn’t happened yet, but they are thinking of downsizing because their retirement funds have dwindled. We are almost an empty nest. (only one in four children still live with us and she is 21.) I know it would be an adjustment for all involved, but I feel that the benefits would outweigh any problems. Plus, the blessings that we could be to each other! AWESOME!!

    I am happy to hear that there are others out there that are kicking the stereotypical “must make it alone” and keeping up with the Jones’ mentality. God will bless you abundantly!

  12. my mom lives with me, my husband and our teenage daughter. i wouldn’t change anything! i have lived with my parents on and off through my life (a few times they moved in with me).

    my dad was disabled and the last few years of his life were very hard on my mom. after he died, i moved from nc to pa to help her out (right after graduating college). my now husband moved from his home in ar to be with us as well.

    eventually we decided to move everyone out to ar where we are now. i love having my mom living with me. not only does she help me get through the stresses of raising a teenager but she also helps me with some house work and cooking too.

    my husband is a truck driver so there are times i feel more like a single parent and having her here is just such a blessing! she has become quite the shut in since my dad died so we try to encourage her to participate in everything we do. i definitely wouldn’t be homeschooling our 8th grader this year if she wasn’t here to help.

    I am glad to see that we aren’t the only ones enjoying our parent(s) in adulthood.

  13. because i work with the elderly, i love this idea. the cost of assistant living and nursing homes are out of reach for many family’s. our family already has this in plan.

  14. This is just an update on the original story.

    My father-in-law passed in January of 2017. He fell when they were out with their oldest son and with the advanced Parkinson’s Disease it was too much for his body to recover from. He came home on Hospice care and passed away a week later.

    In February of 2017, only a month after my father-in-law’s death, I woke up in the morning and found my husband’s mother sitting in her recliner almost unresponsive. The ambulance arrived right away but our best guess is the stroke happened somewhere between midnight and 3 AM. She came home in May totally paralized on her right side and unable to speak. The stroke was so bad even picture boards were beyond her capabilities but she still managed to communicate with a look, a nod, or a smile. We did all we could but eventually her body began to shut down. We saw it coming and were all grateful the time we had with her was not wasted.

    The first night without my mother-in-law was so…I don’t know the words. We felt lost. I was sitting on the couch in our other living room and kept getting the urge to go be with her, but she wasn’t there. My daughter and niece were having the same impulses throughout the week. We all had the feeling we were supposed to be doing something. This was followed by sadness because the reason for doing it was gone.

    My girl took care of her grandmother at night. Three months after she passed away, our twenty years old finally decided to get her drivers license. Three months after that, my baby announced she was going to Japan. She had more than enough money saved up and decided she wanted to live her life to the hilt. Since June of 2018 she has been in Japan, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and is presently working at a restaurant in Melbourne, Australia. She doesn’t plan on coming home until September of 2019, when her visa runs out. In the mean time, she is sharing a house with three other young people and actively building up her savings again before heading home. She plans on purchasing a home in a larger city and getting room mates to offset the bills. She has decided rural life is not for her.

    The generational home was wonderful while it lasted. We have no regrets and would do it again. Life moves on and being an empty nester is a wonderful feeling. We are free and living like it’s BC (before child) again. We are trying out how we like traveling with an RV this summer. I got a 35 year old 35′ fifthwheel trailer with no leaks for a fantastic price. We are doing some remodeling in the winter and spring. If we love being in the RV we are considering hitting the road full-time.


Leave a Comment