Should the kids move back in?

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Multigenerational homes were once the norm for Canadian families.

Indeed, many renters in cities and towns across this country live in apartments carved from early 20th-century homes originally designed to house grandparents, parents and children under the same roof.

And now, as life in Canada’s largest cities gets increasingly expensive, multi-generational living is making a comeback.

It makes sense. One roof. One mortgage. One gas bill. One hydro bill. Three generations.

You may not need all that space

Academic studies have begun using the term ‘over-housed’ to describe Canada’s empty nesters and pre-retirees.

And many of those same studies point out that rising real estate prices make older Canadians reluctant to sell their homes for fear of losing out on future appreciation.

At the same time, their kids are having a harder time affording a first home, or a trade-up to a house that can accommodate a growing family.

One solution gaining popularity among late Generation X and early Millennial families is to consolidate with their parents – provided their homes are large enough.

For Canadians closer to retirement, this arrangement can provide a meaningful financial windfall (particularly if their mortgage is paid off). Utility, maintenance and other routine costs can be taken over by the younger generation, leaving parents with money to invest in an RRSP, TFSA or other retirement savings vehicle.

Shared responsibility for meal preparation further cuts costs, and having more adults around to care for children helps younger family members save money and possibly set aside funds for their own future goals.

Ground rules

While it’s nice to have everyone together, bringing three generations under one roof does require setting some physical boundaries.

Everyone needs some privacy and both sets of adults should ensure they don’t feel as if they’ll trip over one another.

Parents who are used to having the run of the house must establish rules about which spaces will remain solely their own; or entered by invitation only. Likewise, the children need their own established space so they don’t feel like permanent guests.

One final benefit – multi-generational living can delay or even eliminate the need for parents to move to a retirement home or nursing home late in life.

Instead, they can age in place while being watched over by people they love and trust.


CPP Investment Board, Investing Today for Your Tomorrow.

The content on this site is provided for information purposes only. CPPIB is not a financial advisor, and the content on this site does not provide financial advice. Every person’s financial planning needs are different. For advice on how you should prepare financially for retirement, please consult a credentialed professional financial advisor.


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