After separating her husband in 2007, Katie Marcoux and her two young daughters moved in with their parents for financial reasons. She expected to stay for a maximum of one year.
Thirteen years later, Marcoux – who is now married – still lives in the house, with her parents and one of her daughters.
Such arrangements are increasingly common in the United States, where one in five people now live in a “multigenerational” household, according to the Pew Research Center.
The phenomenon has increased since the 1980s, when immigrant families who arrived from Asia and Latin America tended to live in households that operated all the time at the age of the inhabitants.
It was a new increase that began around 2009 when the great recession brought the number of adults living in their childhood homes back to levels last seen in the 1950s.
Now, with the upheaval of Covid-19, many are turning to the game book again.
– New directions –
When she moved in, Marcoux, now 49, worked part-time for the school system and “not in a particularly good financial position”, she recalls.
But living with her parents allowed Marcoux to work part-time while raising her daughters, who adapted to new schools and their parents’ divorce.
She received help from her mother Judy Kristensen.
“When the girls were little, we could help Katie out by driving them places and things so she could work,” said Kristensen, 78.
Meanwhile, Marcoux was able to develop professionally and now works full time.
“One of the things that has given me a lot of time is financial freedom that I managed to get back,” says Marcoux.
Eric Marcoux, Katie’s husband, felt “very at home” with his parents-in-law, “so I sold my house and moved in,” reminded the 47-year-old former cartographer, who brought his dog, Jazzman.
Still, Marcoux, his wife and two stepdaughters, then teenagers, were forced to share a bathroom, an arrangement that “was not perfect,” he said.
The situation improved tremendously after a home improvement project added a second bedroom and a bathroom.
Dana Scanlon, a real estate agent in the Washington region, says more young parents are taking a similar approach during the pandemic.
“We have seen many couples with young children move in with their parents to the large homes they grew up in – something they never imagined they would do,” Scanlon said.
“This allows them to have their own babysitters or ‘Zoom school tutors’ while working from their laptops.”
– Golden years –
Another factor behind the shift has been the aging of the total population, with many baby boomers still strong but looking forward to a future when mobility is likely to become more difficult.
Marcoux’s parents appreciate the company’s buzz when many of their contemporaries are lonely and they do not expect to have an empty home again.
Living with parents is “definitely our plan”, says Marcoux.
“When we made the modifications to the house, we also redesigned their bathroom so that it was more accessible to the elderly.”
Marcoux has two older brothers in the area, “but it’s just a kind of understanding that I will take care of them,” she said.
Marcoux’s youngest daughter, Jenna, 19, moved to New York for college, but Eva, 20, lives at home while studying graphic design.
“It really benefits me because at the end of the day I have a really strong support system,” said Eva.
The event has also worked well for grandfather Dano, 80 years old.
“We have a very close relationship with all our grandchildren,” he said. “But it’s especially when they live with you.”
Richard Fry, a senior researcher at the Pew Research Center, said there has been a “sharp increase” over the past decade in young adults living in multigenerational households.
In 2016, the number of 25-29-year-olds living in such homes increased to 33 percent from 23 percent nine years earlier.
A common challenge for millennials and other young Americans has been the burden of student loans.
“What clearly reflects is that there is a segment of young adults who simply have difficulty earning enough to be able to live independently,” Fry said.
Dt-jmb / mjs