First Name*

Last Name*



Appointment Time*


Please Call To Confirm








We'll even come to you

Multi-generation households - the old new Trend!

Multi-generation households, households in which two or more generations of related adults are living in one home – comprising two or more generations of related adults living under one roof – are getting more and more frequent. Sydney is a great example to demonstrate this phenomenon. One in four people in Sydney, or one million, live in such households.

Since 1981 the number has increased by 57%. In the rest of Australia, the growth is significant if less dramatic. But what are the reasons for this change of our living arrangements?

The main reason for the growth is that adult children (aged 18 and over) are staying longer in their family home, living with Mum and Dad. With increased housing and rental costs, they are staying on while studying and or saving up some money. Others are driven back home due to the change of the economic situation in Australia and Overseas, and some are returning home after a divorce or separation from a partner. However, we also have elderly parents moving back home. The number of people aged 75-plus living in multi-generational households has more than doubled since 1986.

There are benefits and drawbacks of these living arrangements. Some obvious benefits include the companionship, financial sharing and care/support. The negatives or drawbacks can include a lack of privacy, noise and balancing the needs of adult children, elderly parents and a spouse. But who is dependent on whom in these households and who is the primary recipient of the benefits? Is the story, as we so often hear it from the media, a one-way exchange with all the advantages flowing from the middle to the young and the old?  Do the young adults just try and live an easier life by sponging off parents, and the helpless elderly sucking up the care? Two academics from the University of NSW suspect the reality may be more complicated.

Dr Edgar Liu and Dr Hazel Easthope from the City Futures Research Centre are surveying Australians who live in a multi-generational household. The research shows that, as expected money is a factor. The acronym KIPPERS has arisen for a good reason to describe a distinct group – Kids In Parents’ Pockets Eroding Retirement Savings. “But there’s a lot more going on than the money,” Dr Easthope says.
For example, adult children who live with a solo parent can feel protective and reluctant to abandon them to loneliness, she said. However, there are many other factors such as culture, sickness or disability that can play a significant role.

The benefits can flow in surprising ways, and the benefits are not always the same. For example, a single mother with children may be happy to have her father move in so he can assist with picking up kids from school, contributing to the finances, offering a “male role model” and other domestic tasks such as shopping and cleaning. In another scenario, a young woman may feel trapped and feel increasing financial pressures as the parents or parent are close to the retirement age, but haven’t paid off their mortgage. This ultimately would mean financially supporting her parents and maybe even taking over the mortgage, stopping her from being able to live an independent life.

With Australia becoming more and more multicultural and an influx of migrants from the Asia and the Middle-East, where extended family life is prominent, and housing prices high, this trend is likely to continue.
This trend can have large implications on the way future Australians live, built and how aged care services are being delivered.

On a personal note. I can see the benefit of such living arrangements. I was brought up in a house where we lived with my uncle's family and my grandmother. We were over 14 people at meal times and as kids we loved it! we didn't grow up as cousins but as siblings. There was always someone around if I needed a shoulder to cry on or a cheeky snack that I didn't want my mother to know about. However I think it deserves a mention that we did all have separate living areas, so could have privacy if we needed or wanted it and that my parents received help from extended family with cooking and cleaning (and yes they also lived with us).

I have the most cherished childhood memories and when I talk to my sisters we always look back to these times with fondness. Now we are all grown up, moved to the other side of the world (yes all 4 siblings and my parents) and somehow all of them (me beeing the exception) they all ended up living on the same street 8 houses apart! They all love it as it gives them back the sense that we had as children.



<< Back to Blogs