For me growing up in Germany multi-generational living was just a normal thing. I never even thought much about it, because it was so common for me. Whereas sadly here in Australia it is fairly rare and even worse, it is kind on an illegal, grey zone…

Going back to Germany. Where I grew up most homes are double storey residences, or even have a third storey, some rooms under the attic. The homes are often build that way that one or even 2 of the storeys can be accessed separately, usually through a common staircase.

When a couple without kids buys or builds a home they can rent out the attic space, or one of the other levels to help them repay the mortgage. When they get kids, they can use the entire home for the growing family. When the kids then move out they can rent out the extra rooms again. And then, when their parents get older and need help, they can move into the house, instead of going to a nursing home.

This means the house can change and grow or shrink with a family’s needs. Consequently, people don’t have to move or sell as often as they do here in Australia. Most people own their homes for 30 years or even more. They can stay in their neighbourhood, where all their friends are, and don’t have the added stress or financial burden of moving homes.


Here in Australia it is a totally different storey. On average I think people move or sell their homes every 7 years. The main reason for this is because their life circumstances changes and they need a smaller or a bigger home.

Sadly, here in Australia it is officially not allowed to have several independent units within on building or even on one site. You are only allowed to have one unit/house on each title.

Although you are allowed to have several bathrooms in a house/on a site and to have several living areas or countless bedrooms, you are only allowed to have ONE kitchen. Yes, only one kitchen. Officially you are not even allowed to have a kitchenette.

As soon as you have 2 kitchens a house is considered as 2 separate entities. And each entity then needs to have their secluded private open space of at least 40 square metre on average. It would need a complete separate and secure entry and would also need one car space (for a 2 bedroom unit) and even 2 carspaces for 3 or more bedrooms. And yes, you would also need to officially subdivide, which in most cases is just not possible or practical.

For me personally this is so ridiculous. We live in a time where housing affordability is harder as it ever was. Yet parents are officially not allowed to convert their big houses to create a separate/independent space for their growing kids.

We have an aging population that needs to be looked after, yet the government makes it really hard for children to take in their parent, so they get rather send to aged care facilities.

Yes, I know, you can build a dependant person’s unit on your site relatively easy. But did you know? The dependant persons’ unit can only stay as long as the dependant person lives there/is alive? Afterwards it needs to be demolished or dismounted. So why would someone put in the effort and the money to build a nice place to live for their parent, if you have to demolish it again in a few years time?

So, what do people do? How can you build a multi-generational home? How can you create a space for your mum or dad to live? Or a separate space for your twenty something year old children?

As sad as it is, you have to work around the system. And there are definitely a few common ways around this. There are more and more families who do want to create multi-generational living spaces.  

I do hope that the government will recognize the need and importance of multi-generational living and it’s benefits for our society. But in the mean-time unfortunately it is a bit of a grey zone…

If you want to know more about multi-generational living ideas please give us a call or send us an email. We’re more than happy to elaborate some ideas with you. 🙂