Family matters: the move to multi-generational living

While COVID-19 has forced us to keep our distance, Aviva reports a curious – and some would say welcome – side-effect, with one in three households now being multi-generational.

During 2020, the UK population spent most of the time staying at home in close quarters with those we live with. A trip to the end of the road was considered a ‘day out’.

Having since found independence in my own flat after living with family throughout the pandemic (meaning midnight snacks are much easier to come by), it’s hard for me personally to understand the rise in this new way of living, even after these ‘unprecedented times’ *rolls eyes*.
So, what’s behind this new way of living?

According to the Aviva research, the most common type of multi-generational home includes adult children still living with their parents – accounting for nearly two in five of these households. Another study from Civitas found that a million more young adults now live at home compared to figures from 1998.

With average monthly rent now £1,053 – the highest it’s ever been according to research from HomeLet – as well as tougher mortgage applications (just 19% of mortgages were accepted in 2021 from first time buyers, in comparison to 48% pre-COVID), it’s unsurprising that many young adults are opting to live at home and save up.

The study also predicts that one in eight homes could soon include additional accommodation in the form of ‘granny flats’ and annexes, as older relatives are now more likely to live with their children – which according to Aviva, now accounts for approximately one million households.
In the KBB world, how are kitchen designers and appliance brands adapting to accommodate this emerging demographic?

Renowned kitchen designer, Johnny Grey, has highlighted a number of small, yet effective ways to produce a kitchen perfect for a multi-generational home.

Long, thin, central islands offer an adaptable place for all family members. These can be used for home-working, homework, or even just a space to grab a snack during the day. And they can accommodate a number of family members at any time without feeling claustrophobic.

Similarly, Johnny believes that providing plenty of perching spaces in the kitchen can remind house owners to feel comfortable in their own homes, whilst encouraging the family to socialise in a setting filled with delicious smells and tasty meals.

A variety of storage spaces is another key to living with different relatives. For example, a walk-in pantry can provide capacity to feed every member of the household, whether it’s a quick breakfast, a well-prepared dinner, or an after-school snack (or, if you were like me as a child – a pre-meal meal).

For appliance brands, a move to larger households has seen a boom in sales of large capacity washing machines and dryers, multi-door refrigeration and, in a throwback to the 1980s, a resurgence in the popularity of chest freezers.

Furthermore, with hygiene likely to remain a top priority for households of all types, touch-free taps and voice-activated smart products look set to stay part of the domestic landscape.

It seems that soon our friends and neighbours will be living more commonly among family members, with further research suggesting that 60% of people surveyed would be willing to consider living in a multi-generational household. So, don’t be surprised if you receive a call from your parents or children asking if there’s a room going free sometime soon. It’s time to make room… or install new locks!

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