There is a new type of housing needed to meet the changing needs of extended families.

In previous generations, the 2 or 3 bed family house was the aspiration of most people, it provided a home for a couple to have a family and gave them accommodation for twenty years until the kids grew up and left home.  Then Mum and Dad were left to rattle around in their empty nest.

Now things have changed, even if the kids leave home to further their education, they often return because they cannot afford a home of their own.  If Mum and Dad are really lucky, the kids may bring home a new family of their own:-)   The shortage of housing;  the rising cost of property;  ever tightening mortgage criteria and the bedroom tax all make moving away from home more difficult.

Then of course there is Granny, who may well have a downsized home of her own, but needs some help and support from her family to stay independent.

According to the National House Building Council, 3.3 million adults aged 20-34 are living with their parents.   A further 510,000 people aged 35-64 are also still living at home.  There were nearly 400,000 multi-generational homes in the UK in 2011.

The current fragmented housing market is still made up of four basic house types :-  family housing for the two generation household;  first time buyer one bed houses for couples without children;  shared flats for young single people and a pokey retirement home for Granny.

How about pooling the extended family resources to build a sort of “long house” (like native houses used to be in Borneo), one which could provide for three or even four generations?  Mum and Dad downsized in their own home,  Granny in the Granny flat – a live-in Nanny for the youngest generation;  and the grown up kids with their own space which gradually takes over more of the accommodation as their family expands.

Probably a nightmare of family tensions on occasion, but an intergenerational mutual support system most of the time.

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2 Responses to “Upsizing”

  1. I have to stop, look, listen and learn??? Once again someone has rattled my cage, and like you I am unsure of the solution, but being verbally loose I have many thoughts.
    I am now 71+ and born in Liverpool. My father’s father lived in a large family house in Liverpool, (Rented out room to one of the in-laws at that time) this not what I wish to tell you: What in fact the house ownership was in trust to my grandfather for his lifetime, having being provided by his Grandfather, for subsequent generations on I believe a 100 year/Generational trust, until the demise of the family name. This was an act of benefit to the younger generations. The Trust – house ownership was broken up in my fathers’ time on the death of my grandfather and divided among the 7 siblings, as decreed again by the trust.
    This is a possible solution for the modern family who maybe are property rich, and so provide property protection to the younger generations, who cannot afford a mortgage.
    I notice one is suggesting a tribal long house in Borneo for the larger family unit of today, which may in fact be a reality? I do beg caution at this point, my parents lived like others did through the 30’s depression and WWII which through taxes and economic downturn, maybe impoverished their parents (My Grandparents). However during this period , during the mid 20th century one had socialism, and the large complex’s of Nationalised industries such as coal/steel/railways/shipbuilding and then the textile conglomerates in the various textile towns in the UK, plus the chemical industry and heavy engineering, car manufacture. All of these industries help to produce local areas of employment, and the employment of families in generations within the same locality. The row upon row of terraced housing, like Coronation Street, and back to back housing: Here family generations were but either a door away or a few streets away from each other.
    Then came the 60’s and later the 80’s and 90’s heavy industries and the local large employment opportunities disappeared with the work being transferred to eastern Europe and the far east, for one reason cheaper labour costs. The greater unwashed in the UK had to seek other opportunism and this meant many leaving their home towns and commuting greater distances per day or on a weekly basis for employment. Also one aspect of this was greater opportunities for world and European travel which the younger generation sought after.
    Now in the 21 century the wheel has come full circle and the parents or should I say grandparents who travelled in their younger day, are now the upper mobile group with property assets and the now younger generation have to move where the work centres are? This leaves the village in Borneo Ideal a little exposed, but ethically correct, one has to look after one self in order to help others, and the family circle is the ideal place to start, so maybe the old city centres and towns with terraces like ‘coronation street’ may come into their own once again: However there is no factory gate at the bottom of the street! We as a society have to think very hard what we wish for, otherwise we may all live in a mud hut!
    The internet and the web have made communities connected ( Virtual!!) but remote of personal integration and emotion and feelings, which is the stuff and heart of a good vibrant village or town.

    • john graham says:

      Quite a wide-ranging reply. You started out with lodgers in Liverpool and ended up with virtual neighbours who could be anywhere in the world. But the keyword is “community”. In a family there are ties that bind us together, but in a global community the connections are seldom so strong.

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