In 2011 the Australian Bureau of Statistics reported that 531,000 people were living with ‘other related persons’ in the family household. The ABS predict that number will grow to 781,000 or more by 2036. Other studies indicate that one in five Australians currently live in a multigenerational household, and the trend is on the rise.
Once the norm in many households, where the young help care for the older generation, the custom of multigenerational homes experienced a downturn in past decades. It seems that what once was old is now new again, and it’s resurged at a time when the average Australian is struggling the most.
Dr Edgar Liu from UNSW’s City Futures Research Centre and author of Living Together: The rise of multigenerational households in Australian cities, says research has found that more than half of people living in this arrangement do so due to financial reasons, while others do it for companionship.
With Australia suffering through a housing affordability crisis, the cost of living higher than ever and the stagnation of wages growth, it comes as no surprise that multigenerational homes (where more than one generation of adults live under one roof) are on the rise.
The benefits of multigenerational homes
- Bills and living expenses are split among adult residents, resulting in reduced expenditure.
- Young families struggling to save for a house deposit can do so thanks to spitting the cost of rent and utilities with parents.
- Some older Australians aren’t able to afford rent or a mortgage on their own, and so living with their adult children can ease the burden.
- Parents and adult children can co-purchase property together, making it more affordable.
- For young Australian families with elderly parents, having their parents live with them in a multigenerational home is a more cost-effective way to help care for their parents than a retirement home or other care facility.
- Older parents can help ease the burden on young families when it comes to childcare and childcare costs.
- It allows the family to stay connected and close.
- It allows all people living in the home to live in a suburb or property they couldn’t afford on their own.
- Reduced financial pressure for all.
- Companionship for all.
- Fosters relationships between the oldest and youngest members or a family.
The negatives of multigenerational homes
- Lack of privacy.
- Noise transference.
- Everyone runs on a different schedule and those schedules can clash when it comes to the use of facilities such as kitchens and bathrooms.
- Feeling as though you are living in someone else’s house.
- Lack of space.
- Lack of independence.
What are some of the things needed for a successful multigenerational home?
- Ensuring everyone has a private space they can call their own, whether that be to decorate it as they see fit or have friends over.
- Consider a separate small residence on the same block of land, such as a ‘granny flat’ or ‘tiny home’.
- Open plan homes tend to be the worst for noise transference, and this can be solved by an architect or building designer at the building stage, or during renovations.
- Alternatively, investing in rugs to reduce the noise of foot traffic can help.
- Ensure everyone understands the costs associated with living together, and what their responsibilities are.
- Treat everyone with respect.
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