Are you a beanpole, sandwich or boomerang family? It’s all about how you live

Published : 26th April 2019


Our homes are having to work much harder

The UK’s property market is continually changing with anything from spiralling house prices and care needs of both the younger and older generation making Brits re-think their home set ups.

Now research by online marketplace eBay has revealed that the ‘traditional family home’ has morphed into several new guises, with just under half (47 per cent) of Brits revealing that they are living or have lived at some stage in one of the new household types described below:


Multi-generational – Three or more generations living together

Beanpole – A multigenerational extended family household with many multiple generations living together, but few siblings in each generation

Sandwich – A family made up of parents looking after young children at the same time as caring for older parents/elderly relatives in the same household

Boomerang – A family made up of parents with an adult child (of any age) who has returned to live in their family home

Blended – Two or more (unrelated) families living together in one home


Some of the key drivers behind this shift include adult children not being able to afford living on their own (34 per cent) and elderly relatives either not having the financial or physical means to live alone (12 per cent). 

And the while the set ups above can be mutually beneficial for all concerned, 38 per cent per cent of Brits living in a ‘cram-ily’ (many generations living in a single household) outlined that this changing family structure has come at a cost. They revealed that they had spent an average of £333 (but up to £5,000) on completing home renovations in order to make their homes match their growing needs.

These changes can include anything from converting an extra reception room into an additional bedroom to tweaking decor so that it better reflects the interior tastes of all household members.

Further figures from the study showed that those living in non-traditional households want architects and interior designers to take modern family living situations into account when planning new homes. This includes developing housing (66 per cent) and interiors (56 per cent) that are modular and easily adaptable to the coming and going of different generations.

The above seems even more important when you consider the fact that 62 per cent of those questioned think that rising living costs will mean that the majority of the UK will live in an unconventional family set up in the years to come.

Commenting on the research, Professor Jane Falkingham, said: ‘Over the past decade multi-family households have been the fastest growing household type, although this still only represents a small proportion of all households. Across the life course, more people will experience living in a non-traditional family at some stage of their lives. In early adulthood, more young people today are sharing households with friends; more are also returning to live with parents after finishing education.