Multigenerational multifamily living spreads in Europe

Creating communities for people ages 0 to 100

Südkreuz, located in Berlin, Germany, provides new living spaces for all generations
Caption Südkreuz, located in Berlin, Germany, provides new living spaces for all generations

What’s the Point?

In Europe, a new housing trend has been gaining momentum and changing the approach to communal living. Known as "multigenerational multifamily," this concept involves properties that offer various assets in the same location that cater to the diverse needs of multiple generations. While the traditional image of multigenerational living often conjures up visions of extended families living under one roof, this more evolved concept is revolutionizing the way developers approach housing, enabling families to live near one another and meet the living preferences of all ages.

The New “Multigenerational Multifamily”

Roughly 20% of older residents in Europe live with at least one child, most notably in Spain, Italy and Greece, according to research from the U.N. The rising costs of housing, childcare, and eldercare contribute to this trend, as cost management is one reason families band together. Historically, several generations have lived under one roof – but the new multigenerational multifamily trend is a clear departure from that approach, and developers are approaching it with fresh concepts.

Residents are seeking flexibility in housing solutions—allowing for multiple generations to live in proximity to each other while still enjoying their own preferred lifestyle. Rather than everyone residing in one space, these projects offer a variety of housing options in the same neighborhood. A single complex might feature a mix of townhomes, single-family rentals, senior living units – even student housing – as well as traditional apartments.

The blend of different generations and housing types fosters a sense of community that may be lacking in standard multifamily projects. Stadtquartier Südkreuz, for example – our development in Berlin which Hines recently sold -- attracts families, students and seniors alike, encompassing 335 build to rent apartments, 213 micro-apartments for students and 116 subsidized rental apartments. The community’s build-to-rent homes include a mix of one, two, three- and four-bedroom apartments with floorspace between 19 to 115 square meters.

Rising Costs and Remote Work Flexibility

In addition to rising costs, another major driving force behind the trend is the desire to strengthen family ties by providing aging parents with the opportunity to live close to their adult children and grandchildren. Multigenerational multifamily projects offer flexibility for younger generations as well, providing affordable apartment or townhome rental options near family for members of the younger generation who are not yet financially able to purchase their own home.

The flexibility of remote work has opened the doors for families to consider relocating and living in closer proximity to one another within the same city. According to Lisa Newton, Hines Senior Vice President of Multifamily Operations, this European trend could catch on in North America and APAC. “Residents are looking for communities that embrace people of all ages, which could pave the way for more inclusive and innovative housing solutions in the future.”

Multigenerational multifamily properties might include a variety of living options in one location, purpose-built multi-generational residences, or townhomes designed with designated guest spaces. “We are seeing energy around living options that provide simpler and stronger connections,” Newton added.

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The combination of options within one community may also make sense for investors looking for diversity in their income streams. According to a recent analysis by John Burnes Research and Consulting, build-to-rent (BTR) and apartment rents can be more volatile than scattered single-family-rental (SFR) homes. However, offering a combination can ensure a property takes advantage of these diverse cycles – as well as improving their competitive positioning among multigenerational families who might prioritize features such as private living spaces within the same building, separate entrances, and communal spaces for family interaction.

Benefits to Residents, Community Integration

Multigenerational multifamily projects not only benefit individual families in terms of flexibility and connectivity to each other, but also contribute to the creation of vibrant and diverse communities, all linked to shared indoor and outdoor amenities that serve residents at all life stages.

The sense of community is evident in Stadtquartier Südkreuz. Not only were new living spaces created close to the city center, which Berlin urgently needed, but Hines also focused on the local social requirements and future needs for a cross-generational, cohesive living environment. For example, the project amenities include a gym, library, parcel station, music room and communal roof terrace. What’s more, the Berlin project features co-working space, 10,300 square meters of office and commercial space, a nursery, a bicycle repair shop, a playground in the garden and an urban rooftop pavilion.

“Families play a crucial role in fostering a strong and interconnected community,” Newton adds. Having diverse housing landscapes in multifamily communities not only caters to various lifestyles and preferences but also allows for a multi-generational presence within the community. “People enjoy it when people of different ages and backgrounds can live side by side, creating a rich tapestry of experiences, perspectives, and stories.”