A multi-generation family sharing a house together

29 October 2017, 14:42
Photo #130

10 Minute Interview with Hermi & Heidi

In today’s interview we talk to a mother and daughter who live in flats adjacent to each other in what can be called a 3-generation home. They had an annex built to daughter Heidi’s family home, a house she has been living in with her husband and two university-aged daughters. Hermi’s flat is connected to the rest of the house but has its own entrance. We visited them in the idyllic countryside of Austria and talked about their experience.

1. How long have you lived together in the same house?
10 years

2. Where did you live before?
Hermi: I used to live down the road in a big house where my children grew up. Once my husband and sister had passed away the house and garden became way too big to keep up by myself.

3. How did you decide to build this annex in the first place?
Hermi: I first planned to buy a flat in a nearby town. It was actually Heidi and her husband who suggested this solution instead – and of course I was up for it! We briefed an architect and he did a great job – my flat is just the right size for me, it has a big lounge with a dining area, separate kitchen, bathroom and a bedroom. It is very light and airy with light coming in from both sides and we can all use the garden. 

4. How often do you see each other?
Hermi: I see at least one of the ‘gang’ every day. Heidi and I have lunch together probably 2-3 times a week as Heidi often cooks for the whole family.

5. Living with a close family member can sometimes be tricky. In all honesty, do you never have arguments?
Both: Not really, no! We probably don’t see each other long or often enough …
Hermi: And we are not around each other in the mornings when they might not be in the best of moods ;-)

6. What is the best thing about your joint home?
Hermi: It’s a perfect balance of having your own space and knowing there is always someone next door if you need anything.

Heidi: It’s hard to explain but it gives me a feeling of security having my mum next door and I just need to open the door to see her. At the same time it is ideal we have separate living areas and I enjoy having my own kitchen. After all, there are times when you just want to close the door and be by yourself! Also, I love the fact that mum is technically so up to speed and interested in learning new things – surfing the internet, using Skype or What’s app with her friends. We can always help each other out.

7. What advice would you give someone wanting to do the same?
Hermi: Making sure you have your own space is important. If you build from scratch, plan ahead and make it fit for older age – no stairs, accessible bathroom and shower. 

8. What do you think about sharing a house or flat in older age in general, either with a friend or a person you don’t (yet) know?
Heidi: I think all generations can definitely benefit from living together. 
Hermi: Living by yourself can be quite boring and lonely so I think it’s a brilliant idea and the way forward.  


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