Multigenerational Households Save $$$

multigenerational familyMaria Slawson, a Cuban-American, and her Miami-born Anglo husband, Tim, live in a multigenerational household that includes Maria's parents and the couple's two sons, ages 13 and 22. Although multigenerational households are common among many immigrant cultures, the Slawson's current living arrangement grew out of economic necessity.

The arrangement began as a way to help Maria's parents, who were near retirement age and on a fixed income. Plus, Maria and Tim, who had quit work to attend architecture school, could certainly use the financial help, as well.

"My parent's retirement income is very little," Maria Slawson told AOL Real Estate. "Together, they do not even make $19,000 a year. During the past three years, the economy has been suffering plenty -- and we suffered through those times [also]."

The Slawsons are just one of the 15.5 million U.S. households, or 13.2 percent, living this way. In some cultures, multigenerational families living under one roof is a common practice. But since the recession began, the practice has spread in the United States to such an extent that the numbers are significantly impacting census figures.

In a recent New York Times article reported that "of the myriad ways the Great Recession has altered the country's social fabric, the surge in households...where relatives and friends have moved in together as a last resort, is one of the most concrete, yet under explored, demographic shifts."

Before the housing boom, the Slawsons were living with Maria's parents in their tiny rental home in Hialeah while Tim pursued his degree. At the time, they were crammed into the tiny place with her now deceased grandmother, their first child who was four months old. Thinking the situation was temporary they rented out their condo and planned to move to a small place with low rent.

All did not go as planned when Maria realized her job at the University of Miami paid much

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less than she expected after taxes and insurance. Luckily, they were able to find a very inexpensive fixer-upper but of course, felt responsible for her parents who were on a fixed income so they asked them to come and live with them. Now the parents, Maria -- who is now a teacher -- and her husband -- now an architect with very little business -- and two kids, still live under one roof. There is no changing the situation since the economy has definitely affected Tim's job.

They assist each other morally as well as financially. Although her parents financial assistance is not much, the Slawsons have never needed to pay for daycare or summer camps, unless they wanted to.

What is unusual about their situation is that not only that they are three generations under one roof, but that her parents are non-English-speaking Cubans and her husband is a non-Spanish-speaking Miamian whose parents are from New York and Alabama.

Maria says, "Yes, our household sometimes is like the popular Miami-based show from the 1980s Que Pasa USA, where multigenerational living was the show's main theme. In the end, we all respect each other's space and are very much compatible."

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