With the rising cost of housing and the challenges faced by many young people who are trying to save for a deposit while paying rent, a return to the days of multi-generational living seems to be a growing trend.
Multi-generational living is pretty self-explanatory – multiple generations, living in the same home.
It’s not a particularly shocking concept in much of the world, though it is relatively unheard of in modern Australia… until now.
Sharing a property with willing family members is one of the surest ways for cash-strapped Millennials to save for their own home, but multi-generational living is about much more than “failure to launch”. Many Australian families are now choosing to live together for longer, some even moving back in with their parents and bringing their own offspring along for the ride, as the cost of living rises out of step with wage growth.
Some families are able make this work by sharing communal areas, like bathrooms and kitchens, with their respective bedrooms as their private sanctuaries.
Others prefer a little more space of their own, and opt for properties with separate living areas, or a self-contained apartment with its own kitchen and bathroom for the oldies downstairs. Value-adds such as soundproofing and separate entrances can help you keep your most intimate activities secret from your nearest and dearest – or perhaps, shield yourself from the things they get up to!
Shared burdens and shared benefits
A shared household means sharing the burden of the big bills, such as council rates, electricity and gas. If you’ve ever examined your utility bills closely, you’ll know that it’s the supply and connection charges that are the real killer, with usage only making up a small portion of your bill.
While your usage will of course go up, with more people plugging in their phone chargers and showering each day, paying just one set of connection or supply fees will save a bomb for all concerned.
Apart from the obvious financial benefits, multi-generational living has loads of other positives. Growing up in a multi-generational household can be great for young kids, with Grandma and Grandpa on hand to play with and entertain them all day, every day. They’ll learn amazing skills that will come in handy later in life, like how to knit or change a washer – the stuff you always mean to teach them, but never had the time.
It can also be a huge plus for working parents, saving on childcare or after-school club, and a babysitter is only a room away if mum or dad need to dash out to the shops or an appointment.
And for the grandparents, not only do they get to experience all those priceless moments with the little ones, they’ll also have helpers on hand as they enter their twilight years, to assist with day-to-day activities they might find challenging if they were on their own.
Having retirees in the house means someone is always home to sign for a parcel or let the plumber in too – no more dashing home from work early when the toilet decides to malfunction.
It’s also a win from an environmental perspective. Even though there are more of you on the premises, you’re unlikely to be doubling your energy usage. Think about it: you were already heating the entire house before your parents moved in, and they were heating their place, too. Now you’re all toasty warm using half the gas, and can cut down on food waste, too.
There are loads of positives to multi-generational living, but sadly they are all contingent on one inescapable factor… Could you actually stomach the thought of living in the same property as your parents, siblings, or Aunty Anne?
If the idea alone fills you with dread, maybe this new housing trend isn’t for you!