Why Families in Greater Vancouver Are Embracing Multi-Generational Living
With the average price of a Metro Vancouver home rising above $1 million More than twice as expensive as the national average — residents who want to stay in their hometown are having to get creative. In re-evaluating our approach to living arrangements, an increasing number of Vancouverites are adopting multi-generational living.
Defined as a living situation with three or more generations, multi-generational living has traditionally been more common among immigrant families, especially those coming from cultures in which it is seen as normal. This living arrangement has become increasingly prevalent in Greater Vancouver, with 10.7% of Vancouver residents and nearly 20% of Surrey residents living in multigenerational homes according to the Financial Post.
Although multi-generational living has not been a convention of North American living in recent years, this wasn’t always the case. In 1940, as reported by Forbes, approximately 25% of Americans lived in multi-generational households. Following World War II, this number declined (reaching as low as 12% in 1980), as American families began to adopt a new lifestyle. Since then, the proportion of Americans living in multi-generational homes has risen again, reaching 19% in 2014.
Initially driven by the 2008 economic downturn and subsequent rise in housing prices, multi-generational living has certainly given families more financial flexibility, both for seniors on a fixed income and families trying to manage expenses. On a community scale, it uses living space more efficiently and results in less demand for housing, resulting in more sustainable communities. In addition to the financial benefits, families are also realizing that multi-generational living offers other significant advantages for each generation of the family.
Busy parents can rely on the grandparents for childcare, saving up to $16,000 per year, per child and often resulting in improved psychological effects for their children.
Forbes cites a 2008 study on 1,500 teenagers by the University of Oxford, which found that “those with a high level of involvement with their grandparents had fewer emotional and behavioral problems”. It also makes it convenient for grandparents to prepare meals (an especially attractive option for families whose time constraints sometimes force them to compromise on quality or healthy foods).
By becoming more involved in the lives of their children and grandchildren, grandparents can avoid social isolation, a factor which the Vanier Institute of the Family says plays an important role in the health of seniors, particularly those who are widowed. Multi-generational living is also advantageous for seniors when they encounter health issues, allowing their family to support them in the comfort of their own home. Experts have commented that the key to successful multi-generational living is having these conversations ahead of time and making proactive decisions, rather than waiting for a family crisis to happen.
In Vancouver, lane homes have become increasingly popular in recent years as a form of multi-generational housing. These are essentially small homes built at the back of a property with an existing home and can be used as additional living space for children, grandparents, and other relatives, or to generate additional rental income. Lane homes are an attractive option for families who want to take advantage of the benefits of multi-generational living without sacrificing independence, a particularly important value for many North Americans.
My Lane Home, a builder in Vancouver, offers homeowners a wide variety of customizable options to design state-of-the-art lane homes that are both attractive and functional.
With innovative developers like My Lane Home and strong support from the city, lane homes have a bright future in Vancouver. By employing new housing arrangements like lane homes, Vancouverites are finding ways to adjust to life in a difficult housing market. Multi-generational living is a solution that provides families with greater financial flexibility, and many are realizing that it offers tremendous benefits beyond that.