Multigenerational homes are increasingly the trend in Singapore. As reported by Channel NewsAsia in 2016, about 10 per cent of all households in Singapore are made up of homes comprising three or more generations under one roof.
Staying with the extended family brings benefits as well as certain challenges. We look at the advantages of multigenerational living, as well as examine some tips on how to overcome the challenges of space-sharing.
Family is Key
One of the main benefits of living in a three-generation household is the ability to share various roles and responsibilities, from household chores to additional supervision for the elderly or young children.
Extended family members, such as grandparents, can often help with babysitting duties while parents are at work, and can help enrich the child’s learning and growth by sharing their life experiences.
Mr Tan Yong Lin, lives in a four-room apartment in Bishan with his wife, infant, parents, younger brother, and sister-in-law.
The 32-year-old shared, “The grandparents do not have to wait to see their grandchildren, and we as parents can feel at ease when we go to work during the day, knowing that our baby is well-taken care of by family.”
Elderly family members are often excellent mentors and confidantes for the younger members of the household. With Singapore’s greying population, family care and support towards seniors has become increasingly important. Staying together brings mutual support for both the young and the elderly.
To Mr Elijah Underhill, 26, who resides in a three-generational household, living together in a larger family unit means that everyone is always looking out for one another, through little gestures such as buying or cooking food for one another daily.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Conflicts are expected from time to time in multigenerational households. We spoke to some family members in multigenerational homes for some tips.
“Conflict is unavoidable in a three-generation household and it can arise from anything; from toilet schedule conflicts to noise levels. For us, toilet usage becomes a major issue during morning rush period!” Mr Tan shared honestly.
He suggests communicating openly and in a timely manner with family members, so that concerns are addressed and problems are not left to fester. Mr Tan also added that compromise is important to help minimise conflicts.
Carve out Personal Space where Possible
Space constraints and privacy are among the top concerns of multi-generational households, with so many family members living in the same house.
Mr Tan’s spacious 4-bedder home allows a generous communal living space for post-meal conversations and hosting of guests. It is important to keep this area separate from the bedrooms, and for each mini family nuclei to have their own space.
“Having our own private room really helps, where I can retreat to my room when I need some time for myself,” Mr Tan highlighted.
Mr Underhill currently stays with his grandmother and mother in a three-bedroom, open-concept condominium in the Hougang district. The apartment has little to no partitioning, so the kitchen, living area and balcony is a single, open space. As such, bedrooms have become essential in providing a private space.
“We do not encounter day-to-day challenges as we have lived together for 20 years and are comfortable with each other’s habits. However, there can be tension at times due to lack of space and freedom of movement within the house,” Mr Underhill said.
The family also entertains relatives or friends every week, and this can sometimes inconvenience other family members.
“Watching football on television with friends in the living room can be hard to arrange because my grandmother spends a great amount of time there and she may find the noise and action disrupting,” explained Mr Underhill.
That said, him and his family appreciates how living under one roof has helped them forge a stronger family bond that they may not have had if they lived apart.
Building for the Future
At Frasers Centrepoint Singapore, we see the value that multigenerational homes bring to families. The inclusiveness, interaction and intimacy that staying with generations of family members brings can add richness and joy to one’s life. To this end, we have set out to design spaces that create harmony for those who choose multigenerational living.
Our latest residential projects North Park Residences and Seaside Residences take in such considerations, and feature several unique Frasers living space concepts that would suit the needs of various homeowners, including multigenerational households.
For example, is it the Dual-key TRIO Homes concept is ideal for smaller multi-generational families as it is built with two separate entrances and living spaces. This permits family members exclusive privacy whilst still living under the same roof.
Viva Homes concept features separate living and dining areas that work best for families who prefer exclusive enjoyment of television or a guest entertaining space separate from the dining area.
Younger families are choosing to live together with their extended family units and the inter-generational trend is becoming more common than before. Hence, it is only natural that the types of homes built in Singapore will evolve to facilitate multi-generation living.