Here to stay: Multi-generational living

26th Jul 2019Business

Multi-generational living – where families of two or more generations of adults live in close proximity – is becoming more common across the world.

In the UK, the number of households with three generations living together has increased sharply over the past decade, while one in five Americans live in a multi-generational home.

For economic, social and cultural reasons, many lower-income South Africans have long lived in multi-generational households, but in recent years, the arrangement has been adopted more widely. One of the biggest enabling factors, is the increased number of lifestyle estates, which makes it possible for different generations of the same family to live close together, without getting in each other’s way. The new suburb of Westbrook in Port Elizabeth is a great example of a thriving multi-generational development.

“The rising cost of living means it makes economic sense to share resources and split costs,” says Clifford Oosthuizen, MD of Westbrook. “At a time when many families are scattered across the world, it creates the opportunity to share in each other’s lives without getting in each other’s say. For example, grandparents could see their grandchildren grow up and forge relationships with them – that is something very special, and many of us no longer take that for granted. Yet, here at Westbrook that’s exactly what our residents are able to do.”

PE is fast becoming a lifestyle hub in the Eastern Cape. The health of the local property market bears this out, with people from a range of backgrounds and age groups flocking to the Friendly City.

“Even though some might think that having multiple generations living close together could cause challenges, it does not necessarily have to be the case. For example, with construction of the first section of Westbrook – The Ridge – now winding down, we’re already seeing this ‘suburb within a suburb’ type of lifestyle, where extended families live in the same zone, but each derive their own benefits from the living conditions,” says Oosthuizen.

The intention is for the 128-hectare Westbrook development to be safe, secure and walkable, ultimately with 3,500 residential homes spread across nine residential areas with a ‘town square’ that will offer commercial and retail spaces. It will be a mixed-use formula that will feature recreational buildings, a step-down hospital, offices, apartments and more.

“The concept of multi-generational living means families can easily share resources. In the case of Westbrook, for example, we have a number of developments planned, which means levies can be shared and are therefore more affordable than if you were living in a development that was home only to a particular age group,” explains Oosthuizen.

Young children can experience the rewards of living near their grandparents and vice versa. Older generations also have the peace of mind that they won’t need to move to a traditional old-aged home, but can continue enjoying the quality of life offered by a lifestyle estate where they live among people of many ages.

Westbrook facilitates all of this by way of a Curro school that is already operational, and an Evergreen retirement village that is due to be built. This means young and old will find a comfortable, happy home at Westbrook, and families can expect to thrive.

“At its core, multi-generational living focuses on creating living spaces that can be adapted to the changing needs of families,” Oosthuizen says. “Whether it is expanding on one property, or building something new nearby, it’s about living near one another in a secure environment, and returning to a family-centric way of life and a sense of community. It is all about experiencing life as part of an extended, but connected, family. It comes with so many benefits, not least of which is countering loneliness and isolation as we get older, and creating a a balanced environment for children to grow up in,” he concludes.

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