Living with Relatives: A Great Way to Help the Environment
You’ve probably already heard that living in a smaller home is a wonderful way to help the environment. Smaller homes use less energy, less water, and generally take less time and resources to keep up. There’s a growing trend in America that’s also providing an unexpected positive side effect for the environment: more and more of us are living with relatives. According to the most recent Census data, there are now over 41 million people living with relatives; that’s a huge shift from just ten years ago.
Of course, all this co-habitation is good for the environment. The more people living under one roof, the more efficient they use water and energy. According to a study by Michigan State researchers, single people use 41%-60% more resources than they would if they were living with someone else.
And, a recent article by the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says the same thing; more families are opting to live with relatives, or rent out rooms or apartments in their homes, not only to save money but also because it helps the environment. Garage and basement apartments are popular, but so are outside dwellings that are put in place for aging relatives or recent college grads to live.
These small outside apartments go by many cool names: in-law suites, granny flats, sidekicks, backyard cottages, and even “kangaroo apartments” in Australia. Although outdated city zoning laws have, in the past, often made these structures illegal, many cities are starting to realize the many benefits that come with allowing people to cohabitate, and put up these small apartments.
For instance, seniors can age in place without having to leave their friends and neighborhood. College students can have a sense of freedom and independence living at home and going to school. And, families can help out relatives who are going through tough times.
And, throughout it all, they’re all using less water and energy than they would be if they were all living separately.
What do you guys think? Do any of you have an in-house apartment, or share your home with relatives? Would you consider putting up a small, outdoor structure for yourself or a relative to live in?