Smiley Grover and family

‘Multi-generation living works for us’: Why more families are moving in together

Multi-generational living in Australia is on the rise, but it took more than a pandemic to kickstart the habit.

The growing number of families living together is rapidly changing, with grandparents joining their children and grandchildren under the one roof, while young adults are also settling back in.

The pandemic has certainly sped up the trend with many families now accommodating young adults again who have returned after losing a job, but not all multi-generational living is economic-driven.

Jesse Linardi lives with his wife Seada, their two young children Savanah and Skylah and his mother-in-law Marija Besic in Collingwood. He purpose-built a multi-level home to accommodate flexible living and now, thanks to the pandemic, it’s been put to greater use.

“Each bedroom has a fold-away, built-in double bed and is right next to a bathroom. It was designed like this to allow for the flexibility of people who can come and go,” says Linardi.

The father of five also has three older children who come and stay. But it’s the decision to allow his mother-in-law to move in that’s seen a multi-generational shift in his home.

“My wife is Croatian and it’s part of their strong tradition to live close together. They’re quite used to this idea of multiple generations in the one house,” he says.

“Her mum spends 50 per cent of her week living with us and it works nicely.

“She comes on Monday and leaves on Friday night. It’s about helping us while we navigate our businesses from home during the pandemic, but it’s also about our children learning about their culture, their grandmother’s native language, gardening together and having experiences of older people in the home is important.

“The easing of restrictions has meant she can come back again and that’s been a good thing.”

Linardi, who is a design director at DKO Architects, says the future of home and apartment design needs to factor in a flexible need, in fact he always points it out to his clients.

“People want to stay in their family home longer now, and it will definitely impact how we develop houses and other buildings,” he says.

Founding partner of Cera Stribley Domenic Cerantonio agrees. His business is in the middle of developing large homes in Sunshine in Melbourne’s west.

“The brief was to create three and four-bedroom apartments – a shift away from what we saw 10 years ago where it was all about two to three bedrooms,” says Cerantonio, who is working with Pace Development on the project.

“What developers are bringing to market is slightly shifting. In terms of design, there is a master bedroom on every level so you can have a couple and their children on one level and grandparents on another. They don’t need to be on top of each other.”

Cerantonio believes the pandemic will have a big impact on the way we live in the future.

“Part of the multi-gen living we are seeing is triggered by affordability because it makes economic sense for families to come together, but that concept of leaving home after school and moving to the city because of a job opportunity isn’t there right now, so you have young adults staying home longer,” he says.

The average household size according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics in 2016 was 2.6 people per home, a decrease from the 1960s where the average was 3.6. But the rise will no doubt be seen in the next census, which takes place in 2021.

Data from the Australian Institute of Family Studies published in July 2020 showed that households with three generations (such as parents, children and grandparents) were uncommon across the census years between 1991 and 2016, but the living arrangement had increased from 3 per cent to 5 per cent of all family households between these years.

That could be changing quicker now that we’re in peak pandemic mode.

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.

Smiley Grover lives with her husband, their eight-year-old daughter and her in-laws in a four-bedroom house in the Jubilee Wyndham Vale Estate in Melbourne.

The couple lived in Sydney for 13 years before moving to Melbourne, and were inspired by the estate’s larger homes and facilities like a resident-only waterpark.

Smiley Grover and family

Smiley Grover lives with her husband, their eight-year-old daughter and her in-laws. Photo: Supplied

“My in-laws moved from India to live with us a year ago,” says Grover.

“The benefits of having them here during this time is the invaluable emotional support they bring. My husband and I don’t have any family here, so having them live with us has been great, and it’s ideal for our only child who is getting to know her grandparents’ culture and language.”

The four-bedroom home comes with two kitchens and two bathrooms, a media room and a dedicated toy room for their daughter.

“We have always wanted to live in a spacious house to accommodate a big family, it had to be convenient to the city, there had to be a local train station and parks,” Grover says. “Multi-generation living works for us, but also having access to things we can do outside the home is what makes it great too. There’s a three-kilometre cycle and walk path and wetlands too.”


This article was created and originally published by Domain. View here.