The Rise of Multigenerational Living

A Response to Housing Affordability Challenges

The Baltimore metropolitan area, encompassing Baltimore City and surrounding areas to include Baltimore County, Howard County, Anne Arundel, Carroll County and others have witnessed a notable trend: an increasing number of families choosing multigenerational living arrangements as a practical response to the current housing challenges. Rising costs, lack of home inventory and the economic challenges of today’s market have buyers broadening their thought process on solutions.

The cost of housing in Baltimore and its surrounding counties has been rising steadily, outpacing wage growth and making it increasingly difficult for many buyers to afford housing. This coupled with the rise of healthcare, assisted living facilities, nursing homes and other elder care services have made multigenerational living (where multiple generations of a family choose to live together under one roof) become a viable option for many.  This arrangement also helps provide in-home housing for elderly relatives, adult children, young adults facing student loan debt or caregivers while maintaining some level of independence and privacy. 

In many cultures, multigenerational living has long been a traditional practice. The respect for elders, strong family ties, and the desire to provide care and support across generations contribute to the attractiveness of this living arrangement. 

When dealing with multigenerational households, there is typically the presence of an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). An Accessory Dwelling Unit, is a secondary housing unit that is located on the same property as a single-family home. Also known as granny flats, in-law units, or backyard cottages, ADUs (according to Fannie Mae) must include space for living, sleeping, cooking and bathrooms independent of the primary residence. They are designed to be smaller in size compared to the primary residence and are intended to provide additional housing options within existing residential neighborhoods. An ADU can be detached from the main dwelling, attached to the dwelling or within the dwelling. 

The regulations and guidelines for ADUs vary widely depending on local zoning laws, building codes, and community preferences. Many jurisdictions have specific requirements regarding the size, design, and occupancy of ADUs to ensure they are compatible with the character of the neighborhood and do not pose undue burden on infrastructure or parking.

Local and state governments may need to reassess zoning regulations and housing policies to accommodate the diverse needs of multigenerational households. This could include incentives for developers or builders to build multifunctional homes in support of accessory dwelling units (ADUs) to create separate living spaces within existing properties.

With the current state of the housing market and the changing needs of buyers, multigenerational living represents a flexible and innovative approach for our current demographic trends as well as addressing current housing inventory needs.