The Resurgence of Multi-generational Homes in Australia

According to a 2011 report Australian Bureau of Statistics, 531,000 people were living with “other related persons” in the family household. That number is expected to increase to 781,000 or more by 2036. In other studies, it was estimated that one in five Australians presently reside in a multi-generational household, and this trend is becoming popular.

It was once normal in many households to have younger members take care of the older generation, but this custom of multi-generational suffered a decline in past decades. But it looks like what was once old is new once again, and it resurged at a time when the life of the average Australian is the most difficult.

Research also indicated that over 50% of people living in multi-generational homes do so because of financial hardship, and the rest, for companionship.

With Australians experiencing a housing affordability problem, rising cost of living and lack of wage increase, it is no wonder that the practice of multi-generational homes (where more than one generation is living in the same home) is becoming popular once again.

The advantages of multi-generational homes

  • Reduced expenses because all bills and living expenses are divided among adult residents.
  • Saving for a house deposit becomes easier for young families because they can divide the cost of rent and utilities with their parents.
  • Some older Australians who can’t afford to pay rent or mortgage on their own can ease their burden by living with their adult children.
  • Parents and adult children can be co-buyers of a home to make it more affordable.
  • Living with their parents is a cost-effective way for young Australian families to care for them compared with a retirement home or other care facility.
  • Young families can save on childcare costs with their elderly parents living with them.
  • A family stays connected and close living together.
  • The people living together can live in an area or property they couldn’t otherwise afford.
  • The financial pressure is lessened.
  • Having companions.
  • Promotes relationship between the oldest and youngest members of the household.

The disadvantages of a multi-generational homes

  • No privacy
  • Noise transmission
  • The people living together have different schedules and those schedules can be in conflict in relation to the use of facilities like kitchens and bathrooms.
  • Having the feeling that you are living in other people’s homes.
  • No space
  • No independence.

Things that are needed to make a multi-generational home a success

  • Making sure all the people residing there have a space of their own, whether to design as they want it or to invite friends over.
  • Consider building a granny flat or a small house in the same parcel of land.
  • Open space is conducive to noise transference. An architect or building designer can fix this at the construction phase or during renovations.
  • Otherwise, use rugs to help minimise the noise of foot traffic.
  • Make everybody aware of the costs related to living together, and what their obligations are.
  • Be respectful with everybody.