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Multigenerational living on the rise in SA

30 Jun 2015

When looking at trends in the property market, there seems to be an influx of buyers in a new category, which many people are calling the “Sandwich Generation” as they have their parents and children living in the same home.

Families with younger children benefit by having an extra adult at hand, even if just for emergencies, and the odd night out for the parents. Children also thrive on the additional care a grandparent offers, says Mercer.

This is according to Matt Mercer, sales manager at the Knight Frank Residential SA Hout Bay branch, who says several of these families even have “boomerang children” that have come back home to roost after travel and studies or marriage and divorce.

In the last year in Hout Bay, Mercer says there has been a 35% increase in requests for homes that can be shared by more than one family, and homes that have separate "homes within homes" that can afford each family with some independence and privacy.

Multigenerational homes are a way of life around the world, whereas in South Africa urbanisation over the decades led to smaller homes closer to cities. However, Mercer says the trend now is to move out of the city to more rural areas, such as Hout Bay, and combine the family’s financial “forces” for a larger home to share.

Families that have done this say that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, he says.

An example of a home sold recently with the specific purpose of converting to a dual living home is a three-level five bedroom, four bedroom home in Penzance, which the new owners will convert to create a home "within the home" for their parents. The property was sold for R3.75 million within days of listing it.

Pooling resources can help bring down the cost of overall homeownership, helping the younger families to save, and assisting the older family by allowing them to spend less of their retirement savings and keeping their standard of living at the level they’re used to, he says.

Pooling resources can help bring down the cost of overall homeownership, helping the younger families to save, and assisting the older family by allowing them to spend less of their retirement savings and keeping their standard of living at the level they’re used to, says Mercer.

Mercer says many retirees who move into smaller apartments or retirement homes find that the restrictions in space and having to stick to tight retirement budgets create a stressful retirement life.

Living together builds stronger family bonds, and this is done in many cultures, including Asian, African, Greek, and so on.

Families with younger children benefit by having an extra adult hand, even if just for emergencies, and the odd night out for the parents. Children also thrive on the additional care a grandparent offers, says Mercer.

An added benefit to multigenerational living is increased security, as there is usually always someone present in the home. With this comes the peace of mind that one can monitor older parents should they become frail, and children benefit from spending time at home after school and not in a day care centre.

Dual living has become as much a lifestyle solution as it is a financial one, he says.
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