Entry 123: Trendsetters

In all my years on this great planet of ours, my name has rarely been mentioned in the same sentence as the word “trendsetter,” unless it was in a construction such as, “Oh, that Mark, he certainly is not a trendsetter.”  If I’ve ever been ahead of the curve, I’m sure I was directly in the path of the tractor-trailer truck about to come around it.

Yet my wife Barbara and I now find ourselves on the cutting edge of a new real estate trend. We have arrived here quite inadvertently, and may very well one day soon use that cutting edge to slit our wrists.

The trend of which I speak is “multigenerational homes,” as reported by the Associated Press:

“The number of so-called multigenerational households — where adults are living with their elderly parents or grown children — has jumped since the Great Recession forced Americans to rethink living on their own. Demographic experts say it’s poised to rise further as baby boomers age, so-called “boomerang kids” walloped by the weak job market stay home longer, and ethnic groups such as Asians and Hispanics, who are more likely to live with extended family, continue to grow.”

So if you’re a Korean man with still-living parents, and you’re married to a Guatemalan woman with still-living parents, and you have a couple of brilliant college-grad children, you’d better have a pretty big friggin’ house.  Especially if one of your kids went to school in Australia.

Now, of course, homes have always been multigenerational. I grew up in a multigenerational home, and so did you. If a person decides to become a parent and unwisely chooses to live in the same domicile as the child, that’s a multigenerational home.

What’s different now is that all the generations living in the home are adults, albeit with varying degrees of maturity, judging from my daughter’s ability to recite verbatim passages from Ren & Stimpy cartoons of the early 90’s.

What’s also different is that homebuilders are beginning to design homes specifically for this purpose. They sound a lot like old-fashioned “mother-daughter” houses, except they’re now gender- and relationship-neutral, like holiday trees in December and “attendants” on airplanes. After all, a father and his slacker son would not want to live in a mother-daughter house. But a multigenerational house? Now you’ve got a sale. Especially since it includes…

“… a semi-independent suite with a separate entry, bathroom and kitchenette. Some suites even include their own laundry areas and outdoor patios for additional privacy, though they maintain a connection to the main house through an inside door.”

If you ignore the kitchenette part, that’s exactly what we have! And we got it before it was featured in an Associated Press article! We even have a 25-year-old daughter to live in it! Yes, by golly, we are so cool we are practically freezing our tuchuses off!

On the other hand, being ahead of this trend is kind of like having been the first to wear a Nehru Jacket. So what if you wore one even before Sammy Davis Jr. did; you still regretted it a year later.

Not that I regret having our daughter live with us in our multigenerational house. I love my daughter very much, and I (mostly) like having her around.

But frankly, the trend I’d really like to be ahead of is the one where children get jobs and make a lot of money and support their parents in their old age. And I’ll tell you this: when we move into our daughter’s multigenerational house, there better as hell be a kitchenette!

See you soon.

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