The rise of multi-generational living

Common in many parts of the world but not so much in Australia, multigenerational living is on the rise down under. The phenomenon is being driven by a combination of:

  • Worsening housing affordability,
  • Our ageing population,
  • A shift away from seniors living and aged care facilities, and
  • Societal changes caused by COVID-19.

Multigenerational living usually means at least two generations of adults, and sometimes their children, living at the one property. Given the numbers living together, it won’t surprise you to know that the trend is sparking increased demand for large properties.

The advantages

There are many advantages for multigenerational living, most commonly seen when ageing parents move in with their adult kids and grandkids. But we are also seeing a rise in adult children returning to the family home to help them save money to purchase a home of their own and get off the rental treadmill.

Advantages include a greater sense of family, children developing a strong bond with and respect for their grandparents, help at home for working parents and the older generation maintaining a sense of purpose and allowing them to age in place with their loved ones. Retirement living and aged care is also very expensive. Given the pros, experts are predicting that the demand for suitable housing to accommodate a living arrangement like this is set to increase.

So what are people looking for in terms of suitable housing to support multigenerational living?

The greatest demand is for properties with self-contained accommodation (a granny flat) for the oldest generation. This allows family members to live together on the one property without being on top of each other. It gives each generation their own privacy, which is important. Each state and territory has its own building regulations for secondary dwellings (known as ‘ancillary dwellings’ in WA). Click here for our state’s regulations.

An ancillary dwelling can be attached or freestanding as long as each residence has a separate entry and a private open space. 

Also popular for multigenerational living buyers is a large, interconnected home with multiple living areas and segregated bedrooms. These buyers look for the kitchen to be the hub of the home for family meals with other areas and bedrooms offering space to have privacy.

Granny flats and large houses aren’t the only option. A duplex is another possibility. This is a viable option for property owners who are able to develop their block, subject to council approval of course.

The expectation is that multigenerational living will become more entrenched in society, especially as a rising number from the Gen Z cohort become accustomed to that style of living. They are emerging as a generation that values and respects their elders. Any opportunity to bring generations together can only be a positive step for a brighter future with greater connectivity and less loneliness in our communities.

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