Intergenerational Living: New Name for Old Way

During the height of the pandemic, multiple generations in families often were forced to live together, to lean on each other and look to one another for safety, community, social activities, and assistance. Returning to a formerly familiar way of life that past generations knew well,  extended families in the pandemic lived together, shared responsibilities, and learned to get along and generally enjoy each other’s company. For so many, the social interaction and support was worth the lessening of personal privacy. The pandemic re-ignited interest in the range of intergenerational models as everyone re-thought the issue of space.

Mine vs Ours:  Learning to Share Personal Space

There are several types of intergenerational living, from home sharing models (such as renting a room out to a younger person) to intentional intergenerational communities, many of which resemble a form of cohousing.

There are times when an older homeowner or long-term tenant decides they could use help keeping their home clean and in good repair, so they rent out an extra bedroom for a little extra income. They target the ideal renter as someone at least one generation removed from themselves who will agree to “pitch in” as needed, and abide by some reasonable house rules. In the same vein, many undergraduate and graduate students find intergenerational home sharing to be preferable — cheaper and with less drama — to either dorm life or sharing a house off campus with four or five other roommates. Many recent college graduates just beginning their careers also find intergenerational home sharing to be beneficial both financially and socially.

Often, baby boomers try short-term renting first — such as becoming an Airbnb host to find out if they enjoy or want to explore longer-term intergenerational home sharing. Such short-term hosting can give boomers a good idea as to whether long-term intergenerational home sharing would be a good fit.

Intergenerational Living in a Cohousing Environment

There is a recent trend in intergenerational housing developments being built or retrofitted into intergenerational housing that resembles co-housing. It is important to distinguish between multigenerational and intergenerational developments.

Multigenerational communities are mixed-use developments where older adult housing or services are a component, but are separate from the larger community. Many seniors are being drawn to housing built near or by colleges where they can easily satisfy their drive to be “life-long learners.”

Intergenerational developments focus on intergenerational programming that prioritizes contact between baby boomers and younger people. In other words, people live in the same community, but without being separated by age. Multiple research studies have shown that intergenerational living increases social connections, improves the community infrastructure, leads to increased health and wellbeing among residents of all ages, and decreases social isolation.

Another added benefit of intergenerational living housing developments is that — similar to intergenerational home sharing — they can be more affordable for older adults and younger generations. From the perspectives of design and management, intentional space and services sharing can mean cost savings, factors to put in the affordable equation as prices for just about everything are rising.

Get Space & Lifestyle Needs Right!

As of September 2021, there were 73 million baby boomers (born 1946-1964) in the United States. The U.S. Census Bureau notes that 10,000 baby boomers turn 65 every day. By 2030, all boomers will be at least 65. With that kind of demand, it’s time to ready the marketplace.

Increasingly I am hearing baby boomers declare that they do not want to live the last 20+ years of their lives in homogenous communities playing shuffleboard and socializing only with other older adults. While those things can be enjoyable, they want more vibrant, life-enhancing communities. Whether in 55+ communities such as Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville or in places with neighbors diverse in ages, the options are growing every year.

With critical thought and planning, your Third Chapter Living can be some of your best!

Third Chapter Living celebrates, challenges, informs and promotes conversations about housing issues affecting the Baby Boomer Generation. Check out our website to learn more about our work. Our Facebook Group is a resource center with tips and recommendations on navigating those issues. Share experiences with others who are looking for Housing Downsizing Tools that allow them to successfully age in place.


  1. Sue Stockard on August 22, 2022 at 11:31 am

    The distinction between multigenerational housing and intergenerational housing is very interesting and worth noting. And, I’ve just recently come across women post-retirement who are venturing into the Airbnb world. Thank you for bringing awareness to the breadth of options.

  2. Negash Abdurahman on August 22, 2022 at 11:37 am

    I find these Third Chapter Living articles easy to read and practical.

    Please keep them coming.

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