Two Homes in One Equals Savvy Frugality

Private Property South Africa
Anna-Marie Smith

The age old phenomenon of extended family living need not only be a luxury afforded to royal families who live in opulent palaces large enough to house armies.

It also represents smart living where the rewards surpass even that of financial savings. Such as a lifestyle where small community units give meaning to the old adage “It takes a village to raise a child”. Observers say the health and psychological benefits of sharing financial responsibility among a designated number of family members, add vastly to the overall happiness of families.

Although the idea of extended family living may ring alarm bells for some, the endless benefits of this age old concept rooted firmly in many Eastern and Western cultures, may offer welcome solutions to those willing to explore. Statistics show the multiple benefits to range from the quantifiable kind through to practical support, reduced stress and improved health in longevity. In the US alone a 30% increase in multigenerational living has been seen in the past 10 years, where baby boomers are moving back in with their children, and college graduates are forced to return home.

The wider geographical dispersal seen over generations resulting from industrialization and the mobility of labour, removed families from their roots and brought about small families. In some cases households comprise one or two people, with a limited pool of resources from where to finance mortgages and living expenses. The three generation living phenomenon allows parents and children to share not only the capital outlay of property purchases or rentals, but also maintenance and utility bills and most of all unexpected expenses.

When planning for this lifestyle in advance, it can produce an income generating entity in the future, such as a separate flatlet or dual living facilities with separate entrances for tenants. Property professionals who value advance planning for dual living, say that in the absence of over capitalisation of a property related to the location, it adds to the re-sale value of houses. When properties are large enough but need slight alterations, or minor additions such as second master bedroom suites, second kitchens and bathrooms, or additional floor space on top of rooms, these can be added at relatively low cost compared to building new homes.

In countries like Ireland and the US where the economic crunch has resulted in hugely deflated housing markets, many property owners have become saddled with negative equity. In some cases it means that no matter how expensive the mortgage or running costs of homes have become, it is simply not worth selling. Consequently, many families are reducing the number of households by jointly moving into properties, that produces immediate financial relief and possibly reduced stress. In some cases two families of different generations are renting out the properties they own for the purposes of servicing mortgages, while moving into one large but cheaper rental space to facilitate dual living.

In addition to huge cost savings of multigenerational living, is the Blue Zones research evidence on Centenarians published in National Geograhic on a Harvard University study that investigated social connectedness and longevity over a nine year period. The conclusive finding was that higher social connectedness led to greater longevity. And last but not least are the positive effects of children growing up surrounded by the unconditional love and attention of older family members.

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