There is a shift in real estate. 

And not just the shifting real estate market because of high-interest rates. 

There appears to be a shift of grandparents moving to be closer to grandchildren. And not just moving across town. Moving across the country. 

The phenomenon, which we're calling 'The Grandparent Migration,' is reshaping not only the lives of individual families but also community landscapes and real estate markets. 

It’s something we’ve observed happening more and more, so we wanted to look into reasons why, the stats and what it means for grandparents relocating to live near grandkids. 

Grandparents are moving closer to grandkids for deeper emotional connections, influenced by COVID-19's emphasis on family and life's fragility. Increased relocation flexibility, mutual family support, combating isolation, and health concerns also seem to play key roles in this growing trend.

Numbers Of New Normal

Recent studies and surveys have highlighted a significant uptick in the number of grandparents choosing to relocate closer to their grandchildren. 

In this article, on, 

“Never underestimate the power of grandchildren — especially when it comes to lifestyle and financial decisions. Recent data shows that many baby boomers are relocating further away from home than they used to so they can be closer to their grandbabies.”

And according to NAR (National Association of Realtors), the median distance Americans moved in 2022 was 50 miles. That’s a significant increase from the median distance of 15 miles between 2018 and 2021.

Some other interesting data points:

Only 24% of people selling stayed in the same state after selling. So 76% of sellers not only left their neighborhood and left their city. They left the area entirely.

And if you look at this chart you can see that the distance for the older sellers is the greatest. 

It appears this isn’t just families agreeing to move across country in the same year. But for some reason grandparents have decided now was the time to move closer to the grandkids.

And what was the primary reason for selling?

Well, we have the answer. The top reason was wanting to be closer to friends and family. And the further the distance the higher the percentage the reason for wanting to move closer to friends and family was.

Why Grandparents Are Making the Move

Beyond Proximity - The Emotional and Practical Reasons

What drives a grandparent to pack up and move, often leaving behind a familiar community? 

From the desire to play an active role in their grandchildren's lives to considerations like health and support, they need in older age.

It's about love, health, and feeling happy.

1. Being Part of the Family: Grandparents want to be more than just visitors and Facetimers. They want to be a big part of their grandkids' lives. Imagine being there for birthdays, school plays, or just regular days. It's about making memories that last, not just seeing photos or hearing stories. The inability to do it for many during the pandemic gave clarity that it’s easy to miss out on those things.

2. Helping Each Other: As grandparents get older, they think about who will help them if they need it. Being close to family means they can help each other. If they get sick, their family is there. And they can help too, like picking up the kids from school. It's like a team that looks out for each other.

3. No More Feeling Lonely: Getting older can sometimes be lonely. But being near grandkids can make life fun and full of love. It's about having people to talk to, laugh with, and share life with. It keeps grandparents feeling young and happy.

So, grandparents move to be close to their grandkids for these big reasons. It's about being a family that's there for each other, in good times and bad. But this makes us wonder, will this trend continue the more time passes from the lockdowns?

Economic and Social Considerations

Balancing the Costs and Rewards

Relocating, especially in later life, involves significant economic and social considerations. 

➤ Financial Side of Things: Moving isn't just about packing and going. Moving costs money. There are moving expenses, and maybe the cost of buying or renting a new place. If the new area near the grandkids is more expensive, living there might cost more each month. But, if a grandparent moves into a smaller home, they might save some money. It's also important to think about how this move impacts long-term finances, like retirement savings, and everyday expenses in the new place, including taxes and healthcare.

➤ Social Changes: Moving isn't just about money; it's also about leaving behind friends and the community you're used to. These social connections are really important, especially as people get older. They make you feel like you belong and support you emotionally. Starting over in a new place means making new friends and finding your place in a new community, which can be exciting but also a bit scary.

What seems to be making this easier is when you see your friends and neighbors moving away to be near their grandkids, you start to wonder why you’re not doing that also.

➤ Making New Friends: Getting to know people in a new area means joining clubs, participating in community events, or getting involved in local activities. It's a chance to meet new people and make friends. Having family close by can make this easier, as you already have a connection to the community through them.

That’s why there is church and pickleball. 

In the end, deciding to move closer to grandkids means thinking about how it will impact your finances and your social life. It's about balancing the costs of moving and living in a new place with the happiness and benefits of being near family. Everyone's situation is different, so each person or couple has to think about what's most important to them. 

The Real Estate Market Response

Adjusting to a New Trend

The growing number of grandparents moving to be near their grandkids is changing the real estate market in interesting ways.

➤ Changing Home Demands: As more grandparents decide to live near their grandkids, they're looking for specific types of homes. Many are interested in houses that are just the right size – not too big, but with enough space for family visits. There's also a growing interest in homes that are easy to get around in, especially for those who might have mobility issues as they get older. This means single-story homes or places with fewer stairs are becoming more popular.

➤ Multi-Generational Housing: Another big trend is the rise in multi-generational housing. These are homes designed to comfortably fit more than one generation. They might have features like separate living areas or in-law suites, which offer privacy while keeping the family close. This kind of housing is becoming more common as families look for ways to live together but still have their own space.


➤ Home Builders Adapting: ADUs are becoming increasingly popular as a practical solution for families looking to accommodate grandparents. These units, often referred to as granny flats or in-law suites, are smaller, independent living spaces located on the same property as a main residence. They can be detached, like a backyard cottage, or attached, like a converted garage or basement. ADUs offer grandparents their own private space, complete with essential amenities like a kitchen and bathroom, while still being just steps away from the family. Home builders are recognizing this demand and are incorporating flexible ADU designs into their projects, allowing for comfortable, independent living within a family compound.

In summary, the trend of grandparents moving to be near their grandkids is creating new demands in the real estate market. Homes that are or can become multiple generations, easy to live in, are becoming more popular. 

Embracing Multi-Generational Living Restoration 

The Grandparent Migration is more than a demographic shift; it's a movement that speaks volumes about the values and priorities.

The concept of multi-generational living, where multiple generations of a family live together or in close proximity, has deep historical roots. This living arrangement was quite common in many cultures around the world for centuries.

➤ Historical Context: Traditionally, families lived together on the same land or in the same house for several reasons. 

First, it was economically practical. Families could pool their resources, share the workload of maintaining a home, and support each other's livelihoods, often in agricultural or family-run businesses. 

Second, it provided a built-in support system for childcare and eldercare. Older family members could help with raising children, while the younger generation took care of their elders as they aged.

➤ Nuclear is New: The family unit was not always just nuclear (parents and children), but extended to grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

➤ Shift in Trends: The decline of multi-generational living in many societies, particularly in Western countries, began with industrialization and urbanization in the 19th and 20th centuries. 

As young adults moved to cities for work, they left behind their rural, family-centered communities. The rise of individualism, the pursuit of personal and professional goals, and the increasing mobility of the workforce further encouraged living independently from extended family.

➤ Post-War Changes: After World War II, particularly in the United States, there was a significant push towards suburban living and the ideal of the nuclear family. Economic prosperity made it possible for more people to afford their own homes, and cultural shifts placed greater emphasis on independence and privacy.

➤ Modern Perspective: In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence in multi-generational living. Economic factors, such as housing costs and the financial benefits of shared living, play a role. Additionally, as life expectancy increases, more families are looking for ways to care for aging relatives. The trend is also driven by a renewed appreciation for the emotional and practical benefits of close-knit family living.

In summary, while multi-generational living was once the norm, driven by economic necessity and cultural values, industrialization, urbanization, and cultural shifts led to its decline in favor of nuclear family living. 

Today, we are witnessing the restoration of multi-generational arrangements, influenced by both economic considerations and a desire for stronger family connections.


Are multi-generational homes a temporary phenomenon?

This article, by NAR, writes

During a three-month period at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the rate of multigenerational home purchases jumped from 11% to 15% of all purchases before dropping back to the 11% range, according to National Association of REALTORS® data.

But then the rate started climbing again. In the 12 months ending in June 2022, multigenerational purchases made up 14% of all purchases, rivaling the recessionary 2012–2013 period. Is this a short-term trend, brought on by high prices and rising inflation—or is it a longer-term trend?

Researchers say it’s the latter. Data from Pew Research shows that the number of people who live in multigenerational homes has risen steadily since 1971, a year when the “ideal” of a nuclear family (husband, wife and two kids) was beginning to give way to the postmodern era. In that year, fewer than 10% of people lived in multigenerational housing. Today, the number stands at 18%. Pew defines multi-generational living as having at least two generations of adults under one roof.

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