There is something special about spending time with your grandparents as a child. Maybe it’s a combination of the lenient rules, all the time spent playing or those delicious homemade treats. Whatever the reason, it is just plain old fun.
Growing up I was very close to my grandparents and have fond memories of our time together. I want my boys to have these types of memories as well. I would love for them to look back fondly on their childhood and remember spending time with Grandma and Grandpa. However we have a slight hiccup – my husband’s parents live in Colorado and though my parents are closer, they are still hours away.
My husband and I moved to Phoenix from Honolulu about five years ago. We loved our time in Hawaii. In fact, “love” doesn’t even adequately describe how much of an impact the islands made on us. The tight knit community where everyone is an ‘Auntie’ or ‘Uncle’ and the true spirit of aloha made us feel welcome and quickly at home. In Hawaii, multigenerational living is not uncommon and I dare say that it is more of the norm there. The high cost of living and exorbitant rent, makes the idea of living with ‘ohana (family in Hawaiian) all the more appealing. To give you an idea, we were in a 500 square foot, one bedroom apartment, minutes from Waikiki and spent more on rent than we do on our mortgage here in Phoenix. My husband is a CPA and I have a finance background, so we knew that we had two options: stay in Hawaii and get comfortable with a smaller savings account or move back to the mainland and get our finances aligned before starting a family. We chose option two. We might have moved, but Hawaii forever changed us and our way of thinking.
We moved to Phoenix and within a couple months, purchased a quaint home in the historic Medlock neighborhood of Central Phoenix. It was our first home purchase and we quickly went to work putting our stamp on this renovated three bedroom 1950s ranch home. We welcomed our first son, celebrated milestones and had many visits from my in-laws in between. Our son loved having Grandma and Grandpa visit and his eyes lit up each time we told him that they were on their way. On one such visit, my mother-in-law tossed out the idea of buying a condo near us and wanted to get our opinion. We loved the idea! However, we also knew that we wanted to have another child, which would mean that we needed a larger home and we were not exactly sure where that would be. Here is where the idea of creating a (part-time) multigenerational home first came up. My husband and I talked at length about it before bringing it up with my in-laws, but in the end we all decided that it would be a great idea. We sold our home and quickly got to work on finding a home that would accommodate our family as well as my in-laws. It didn’t take long until we found a fit.
Months of remodeling, two kids and a year later, we are making memories in our multigenerational home. We have a one bedroom apartment attached to our main home, which gives them their space yet means they are close by when they visit. Our boys love spending time “in the apartment” and going through Grandma’s treasures with her.
While we are still new at this multigenerational home thing, there are three things I hope our boys gain from this experience: a special bond with their grandparents, happy memories and a home bursting with love for them.
I know that multigenerational living is not right for everyone, and five years ago, would not have really considered it. Call it timing, call it a confluence of events, call it crazy, but this little experiment is underway in our home and we couldn’t be more excited.