It may surprise you to learn that multi-generational living is on the rise in Australia. This is when grandparents live together with their children and grandchildren under the one roof. In 2006, one fifth of Australia’s population lived in a multi-generational household and in 2011, 531,000 people reported living with extended family members in their family home. It is now anticipated that this number will jump to at least 781,000 by 2036.
Now, you may assume that the global pandemic is the reason for the trend right now. However, while the financial strain placed on many during the pandemic (especially young adults who had lost their jobs) caused them to return to the family home, not all multi-generational living is driven by economics. For example, some cultures have a strong tradition of caring for elderly parents/grandparents and are quite familiar with living together under the one roof.
Melbourne architect, Jesse Linardi understands this only too well. He lives with his Croatian born wife, their two young children and his mother-in-law. His three older children also come and go. He says the future of home and apartment design should factor in flexibility into their designs and that we are seeing this more and more.
He says, “People want to stay in their family home longer now, and it will definitely impact how we develop houses and other buildings in the future.”
The trend is being seen all over Australia to the point where we are seeing homes with a master bedroom and ensuite on two levels or in separate wings of a home more often. People are also looking for versatile floor plans and multi-purpose rooms that give them the flexibility to use their home in accordance with their family dynamics and that allows their home to evolve as their family’s needs change.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the average household size in 2016 was 2.6, down from the 1960s when the average number was 3.6. However, it is widely anticipated that we will see a rise in 2021, when the next census is due to take place. Research published by the University of New South Wales (UNSW) City Futures Research Centre suggests that as many as one in five Australians already live in multi-generational households.
It will be interesting to see if the 2021 census figures reveal a move back towards how families lived in the 1960s! So, while the pandemic has definitely had a role to play in this change in family dynamics, it is not the only reason more extended families are choosing to co-habit. We may even find it is one of the trends of the pandemic that sticks around.