As the economic crisis maintains its grip on the UK, the only way many families can afford a larger house is to combine income with grandparents or other families have suddenly had to find an additional room for a grown-up child to move back in or for elderly parents to live in.
Whilst Shakespeare once said “Crabbed age and youth can not live together,” many are now finding they have no choice. Three-generation house-holds are becoming the norm as financial pressures mount and sharing a home with the grandparents is the best option to optimize the property portfolio for the entire family and cut down on child care costs and care for the elderly. Close to 36 million people in Britain have now experienced sharing a home with another generation as adults and for around 3 million of those it was an arrangement that was long term.
It is anticipated that this trend will only increase. Elderly couples are often considering downsizing and using some of the money to help with schools fees for the grandchildren, now that money is being used to put down a deposit on a larger house for the extended family to all move into. And with Granny living in a part of the house, there is child care on tap, allowing both parents to work or providing intense relief for a single mum or dad.
Mortgages are still fairly difficult to obtain in many cases, deposits are hard to save for and general living expenses continue to rise. Sharing the outgoings make financial sense. It is thought that the number of buyers is now considering purchasing a property that has a separate wing for Granny wing is increasing by around 50% a year as more and more families struggle to pay for child care.
The trend is being seen particularly in the upper end of the market, especially in the commuter belt around London. Here there is a definite shortage of large family homes and with prices approaching a million for such a property, if there is the possibility to combine two budgets, you suddenly have access to far more on the market. The eld generation are often sitting on a large amount of equity in their own home, while the next generation struggle to make mortgage repayments on a modest sized property that can barely accommodate their growing family.
The concept of a 'granny flat' is nothing new and in the past three or even four generation family households were normal and larger country estates often had cottages in the grounds for widows to live in. But the growth in different generations now living together is being forced upon some by the economic situation. It is important that each generation has their own space as needed and it is also important to consider what will happen a few years down the line, when children leave for college and move out or the grandparents become the ones requiring round the clock care. And tailoring a property to your specific family arrangements could mean it is very difficult to sell on down the line.
It is also important to get proper tax advice before committing to any purchase. If possible a property with two separate entrances is better and it is better to go for a slightly larger property that needed if possible.
There is also a growing trend for middle aged people to suddenly find themselves caring for their older parents as well as their children and being sandwiched in between, while another set of people over 50 are under the responsibility of their own elderly parents as well as having to care for their grandchildren so the parents can go out to work. With a rapid aging population and shortage of care for the elderly the trend is likely to grow considerably.
One in ten young couples now live with one set of parents and many young adults have had to move back in with their parents after the breakdown of a relationship or loss of a job.