Living next door to granny - is an annex an answer to multigenerational living?

“Multigenerational living” has been with us for decades, if not centuries. Nowadays, with the cost, and costs, of housing increasing for us all, the idea of pooling finances by combining living accommodation for three or more generations of the same family can be very tempting.

However, there are some things you might want to consider before scanning Rightmove for a property with a separate annex or an integral granny-flat.

A Granny is for life, not just for Christmas

While it might initially make financial sense – selling your grandparent’s house as well as your own in order to buy a larger property capable of accommodating everyone – it should be borne in mind that this is likely to be a permanent solution.

Having your elderly relative(s) living close-by, if not under the same roof, means that you are close at hand in the event that care is needed, either short or long-term, with the consequent peace of mind that brings for all concerned.

However, it isn’t easy to predict how an elderly person’s health will continue and a sudden deterioration might, in turn, affect your involvement and commitment to providing the additional help needed over a longer term. Perhaps you need to consider the possibility that your elderly relative might require more care than you are able to provide, especially if you work full-time.

Can't we all just get along?

Cross-generational relationships, especially within families, are often fraught with issues. Different attitudes, different personalities and even the best of intentions can all combine to create unforeseen consequences for families living in close, daily proximity.

It might not be easy to be objective when it comes to assessing everyone’s compatibility for living under or near the same roof, but a frank and honest discussion between all the parties might save a lifetime of regret if things don’t work out because of something someone once said that has festered ever since. Setting boundaries and expectations for everyone at the earliest of stages might pay dividends further down the road.

Money talks - who pays for what?

The motivation behind buying a property with an annex or granny-flat is often financial, as well as practical. Pooling finances of two or more generations of the same family seems fairly straightforward, until you actually come down to how much each party is contributing, how it’s going to be spent, and what are the arrangements for paying the ongoing expenses associated with multigenerational living.

The choice of which property to buy is the obvious first hurdle and whilst the older generation might be content with the idea of downsizing to an adjacent or attached annex, their idea of what they want might differ considerably from their younger family members. The relative level of financial contribution may well hold some sway over the choice of property, but it’s rarely easy to please everyone and finding the perfect property might take time and delicate negotiation.

Ongoing costs will need to be shared according to the agreements you make at the outset, so it is important to consider everyone’s ability to pay, their share of the property and consequent household bills, and also ongoing maintenance costs.

Making it work

Having your elderly parents or grandparents living next door to you in their annex is a big decision for all involved. Buying the property is the first and biggest step. It’s likely that this will be the first time for many years that you, and they, will have lived together since you were all a lot younger. People change.

Making it work will require empathy and understanding by you all, but bear in mind that older generations are likely to be more set in their ways and that it is you who might need to offer more concessions in order to maintain a peaceful balance of living under the same or adjacent roof.

And finally - don't forget your annex insurance

If you are considering buying a property with an annex or granny-flat, we can help. Don’t forget to check your annex insurance policy to make sure your home is properly covered

Need a good annex insurance broker? We’ve got you covered – click here to fill out a short form and we’ll pass your details onto our list of brokers.