Finding happiness in a multigenerational home
In Bangladesh when we talk about family we don't just mean spouse and children but the wider family including parents, grandparents, and siblings. The typical scenario is married adults living with parents and we can't bear the thought of leaving ageing parents in care homes.
Although the search for better opportunities pushes people towards urban areas living in nuclear families, they prefer staying with their parents when they can afford it. The preference is based on a plethora of reasons. One of the major reasons is providing better healthcare facilities to aged parents.
On the other hand, where both parents have to work to run a family, providing care for children becomes really difficult. Working parents want their family members to help provide care and nourishment for the children. As a result, urban nuclear families are gradually becoming multigenerational households.
But are the housing and lending agencies in Bangladesh prepared for this societal transformation?
Nowadays, builders are offering extended facilities to meet multigenerational housing needs that include multiple master bedrooms with en-suite baths and facilities for the disabled and elderly at an affordable cost.
According to Saamiya Seraj, a director of Sheltech (Pvt) Ltd, most of their clients with a middle-income background aim for a three-bedroom apartment ranging from 1,500-square feet to 1,750 sq ft—big enough to accommodate both their parents and children in the long run. Costlier accommodation includes a four-bedroom apartment at approximately 2,000 sq ft, she adds.
However, there remains a lot to be explored because the key to making all adults in a home feel comfortable is to ensure that everyone has their space and their privacy needs are met while remaining connected to the whole family. Such additions can range from a separate entrance, extended kitchen and dining room to separate living quarters in the main home.
Financing for multigenerational homes is not yet popular in Bangladesh. Existing home loan schemes are mainly designed to cater to nuclear family households.
Nasimul Baten, head of operations of Delta Brac Housing Finance Corporation Ltd (DBH), said that generally, with a repayment period of 10-15 years, both the husband and wife are taken as applicants when applying for a home loan. More often than not, the cost of repayment is not only borne by the applicants alone but is spread out among the family members, where ageing parents can contribute to repayment through their asset holdings and siblings with their income. With the growing demand of multigenerational homes, there is a potential head-room for the lenders to explore loan products for extended income households.
From the borrower's side, if several family members are interested in buying a home together, there are certain things that everyone should carefully consider. First, all the co-borrowers need to have a frank conversation and plan about how they will contribute to the repayment process. They should also come clean to each other about their credit scores before applying. Finally, every person who is being relied on for the loan repayments should have a life insurance policy so that if any family member dies, the proceeds from the life insurance policy can help cover their share of housing costs.
According to a research study published in the Bangladesh Medical Journal, the ageing population is projected to double from 7. 8 million in 2001 to 16.3 million in 2025. As this cohort of the population increases in number, the necessity of such multigenerational homes will grow with time. The housing and home loan industry needs to attune their offers to these demographic changes. As long as the housing market and home loans facilitate such schemes, Bangladesh will remain a nation of multigenerational coexistence.
The writer is a contributor to The Daily Star.