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Multigenerational Living in Hawaii

For many extended families in Hawaii, living under one roof is not uncommon. In fact, Hawaii ranks first in the United States for the most multigenerational families sharing a roof, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The concept of multigenerational homes has deep roots in culture and history, especially among Native Hawaiian, Asian and Pacific Islander communities where ‘ohana is highly valued.  Economic factors can also play a large role in a family’s decision to live together. 

When you and your family begin the discussion of multigenerational living, consider both its pros and cons. There are many advantages to keeping your family close, but it’s important to remember that clear communication and a smart, well-designed layout go a long way in ensuring harmony.  

Pros of Multigenerational Homes

1. Financial savings

Sharing a mortgage among several working adults – parents, aunties, uncles – makes economic sense, especially in Hawaii where the cost of living is so high. You can share other expenses, too, such as utilities, food, maintenance costs, association fees and insurance. This can be especially appealing for younger adults in the family who want to   build savings, reduce debt and save for a down payment for a home of their own in the future. 

2. Child care

It takes a village, as they say! Enjoy the many benefits of grandparents or other family members watching your child as you go to work, which saves time and money, as you don’t have to leave your child at an expensive daycare. They can even drop off and pick up your child from school if needed. 

3. Emotional and mental health

Seniors also benefit – kupuna who watch keiki have a 37 percent lower mortality risk than adults of the same age who don’t babysit, per the Berlin Aging Study. Spending time with their grandchildren can be a source of joy and enrichment for the elderly. And, for new parents, it can be a great help to have someone experienced lend a hand.

4. Shared chores

Taking turns on chores such as laundry, cooking, mowing the lawn and cleaning can be a big relief for adults who typically would have to handle all these duties on their own if they lived separately. It’s also a good way for children to learn how to pitch in and pull their weight by watching their elders set the example. 

Cons of Multigenerational Homes

1. Lack of privacy

With more people, there’s less space. For individuals who are used to living alone and enjoying peace and quiet of their own, it can be challenging to share a home with other family members. Simple rules such as knocking on bedroom doors, assigning a private space or limiting loud play to specific times can make all the difference.

2. Family squabbles

Relationships are fragile and can be even more delicate under the pressures of living under one roof, even among close families. Consider addressing any past or potential issues before making the decision to live together. Resolving problems before they become worse  is wise. Create rules for financial, parenting or household responsibilities to maintain peace. Remember, communication is key!

3.  More work

Expect laundry, dishes and overall messiness to increase when there are more people in the house. While everyone’s tolerance of clutter may vary, it’s important to delegate chores and create house rules to prevent an uncomfortable living space. 

Design Smart

Most disadvantages of multigenerational living can be addressed through a smart and well-planned design that prioritize safety, privacy, accessibility and convenience. If you’re thinking of exploring multigenerational house plans, consider these ideas.

1. Space out bedrooms

Consider spreading out bedrooms across the home instead of keeping them next to each other on the same floor. Offer more privacy for family members by spacing them out on multiple floors. Kupuna should have bedrooms on the first floor for accessibility and younger family members can claim either the upper floors or even the basement for their bedrooms. 

2. Wider hallways

Size hallways so that children can play in them and elderly can easily use a wheelchair or walker. If you can, create a built-in desk or a space in the hallway for families to interact – monitoring children’s computer use or helping with homework.

3. Private bathrooms

Sharing a bathroom in a multigenerational home can be a nightmare. Consider a private bathroom for each generation. Also, renovate bathrooms with safety aids for seniors who might need grab bars for support or a handheld shower. 

4. Separate entrances

Consider creating separate entrances for family members. This may be beneficial especially for adults who work night shifts or have unusual schedules. It can help different generations feel more independent. There can be an entrance at the front of the house, the back or one to the basement. 

A Multigenerational Development to Watch

Ho‘opili Living

Range: $335,000 to $671,000

For extended families who want a comfortable and affordable living space, consider the Kōhina, Ilima, Hinahina and Liko homes at Ho‘opili. The Kōhina is designed to be the main entrance gateway into Ho‘opili, a master-planned community in West Oahu. It will be the community’s first TOD (transit-oriented development) neighborhood, with approximately 276 multi-family homes and commercial spaces. Perks include more than 40 diverse floor plans, including a variety of market-priced and affordable one- to four-bedroom townhomes and FLEX Homes.  

Ilima at Ho‘opili is another multi-family neighborhood within Ho‘opili. The main difference will be the yard space – Ilima has ground-level courtyards, while Kōhina has lanais. There are approximately 76 multi-family homes at Ilima at Ho‘opili, including townhomes and stacked flats. Currently, an estimated 28 homes will be sold as affordable under the City & County guidelines, providing local families an opportunity for homeownership. There are seven floor plans with units at 973 to 1,860 square feet. A minimum of two parking stalls will be included with each home. 

The newest of the Ho‘opili phase is the Hinahina, which offers large townhomes for sale – think 652 to 1,805 square feet with nine different floor plans. These homes will offer a FLEX home option, where the building can provide a commercial space on the bottom level. This is especially appealing for small business owners who can work from home. 

Finally, the Liko offers duplex, split level and single level floor plans. Each unit comes with two car garages, split AC and smart home features. There will also be PV and EV car friendly with conduits already built for future installation of solar panels and electric car charging stations. At these units, you can opt to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU). Look into the ‘Eono floor plan, where a 2,109 square foot home provides a separate and legal rental unit that is ideal for multi-generational living. 

The Ho‘opili project is built by the reputable DR Horton, a company known for many other prestigious developments on the island. It’s perfect for families who want an urban lifestyle in West Oahu. Residents young and old can enjoy amenities like a toddler play lot and a dog park, and proximity to West Oahu’s popular malls, schools, retail spaces and parks.