Life in a multi-generational house
A farmhouse in Urtenen-Schönbühl – this is currently home to musician Christoph Trummer and 26 other people of different generations, with two babies on the way. And how do the residents’ hearts beat – in harmony or disharmony?
One house, 27 heartbeats
Singer-songwriter Christoph Trummer from Bern deliberately hired two drummers for his latest work Familienalbum (family album). Why? It’s the drum that sets the pace in a band: it decides and governs. With two drum leaders, each is required to consciously make their contribution while also drawing back at the same time: it's an intensive exchange. Two different beats need to be aligned to give the songs the desired effect.
Does this also work with 27 heartbeats? Several generations – 18 adults, three young adults, six children – all share the same goal in this idyllic former farmhouse: to live a life that can incorporate grandchildren, to do something meaningful, and to be there for each other. Christoph Trummer is part of this community, along with his partner and their four-year-old daughter. The house has a modern interior, with plenty of space for simply being; whether alone in your own flat or with other housemates in one of the shared living spaces or the spacious garden.
Who is Christoph Trummer?
A dialect songwriter and singer from Frutigen, Christoph Trummer has published several folk-pop albums. His poetic and poignant lyrics have also won over his professional colleagues, who honoured him with the Artist Award at the Swiss Music Awards 2021.
Solidarity is essential
Of course, you need to be willing to embrace this kind of lifestyle. This includes respecting your housemates, with their strengths as well as their weaknesses. In a multi-generational house, contributions of a financial or business-related nature are weighted the same as the amounts of time someone contributes to the house-share community. Solidarity with each other is a top priority.
Costs are distributed fairly
Solidarity is also key when it comes to calculating rents, which are drawn up in consensus. The total rent is determined by the costs of the house. The factors for calculating each person’s contribution are twofold: the rental costs per square metre and the share of that person's income to the community’s total income. Those with jobs outside the home have more money, but less time for household tasks.
Give and take, debit and credit – the maths works out
When asked about possible generational conflicts, the musician says with a smile: «Obviously we don't conform to conventional ideas. For example, the 19-year-old housemate in a nuclear family appreciates being able to help take care of another family’s small child without having to take on all the responsibility.» So, an intergenerational mindset is not a pigeonholing mindset? «That's it,» says 43-year-old Trummer. «The newly retired grandmother can enjoy her new freedom of being able to travel and isn't automatically the default babysitter for the entire household.»
Good planning is part of the process
Although the housemates make arrangements with each other, they also get help from relatives outside the house. One child attends daycare, enabling them to get to know other children too. Everyone lives their own life, within the house-share community and alone. There are plenty of opportunities for withdrawal, and this is appreciated and made use of. But for everything to work, rules and planning are all part of the process.
Making a hit together
Just as disharmonies form part of a song’s composition, they also form part of everyday life in the shared household. Conflicts are resolved in monthly meetings, with discussions held in a friendly tone.
27 drummers, soon to be 29, in harmony and disharmony, with dissonances and perhaps a divergent tone now and then: the multi-generational house has all the makings of a hit.
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