1 in 3 homes are multi-generational

  • A  third of UK households are multi-generational, mainly due to adult children living with parents
  • Older relatives account for 14% of multi-generational set-ups – compared to 9% in 2016 Aviva study
  • Lockdown accounts for only a small proportion of multi-generational arrangements
  • A quarter of “granny flats” are designed for grown-up children
  • A fifth of annexes / granny flats are being developed with lodgers in mind
  • Granny flats are most popular in London: up to a fifth of homes have / are planning conversions

Multi-generational living is a reality in a third of UK homes and could be set to increase, according to a new study released today by Aviva.

The Aviva How We Live Report compiles views of more than 4,000 adults across the UK. It discovered that a third (34%) are living in a multi-generational household - equivalent to more than 9 million(1) homes. The term refers to situations where adults from different generations live together at the same address.

Lockdown only accounts for a small proportion of this number, with 3% of households reporting that adult children returned home during lockdown, and 1% of households took in an elderly relative to support them at this time.

Adult children account for most multi-generational set-ups, but older relative arrangements are growing

The most common type of household in the multi-generational category is one where adult children are still living at home with parents, accounting for nearly two in five multi-generational homes. ‘Boomerang’ children - where grown-up offspring have returned to the family home after university - account for a further 11%, and the same number of adult children (11%) are living with their parents while they study at university or college.

However, there are also a considerable number of older relatives who live with their families, usually for health or financial reasons.

While in percentage terms, the proportion of older relatives living with family members is much lower (14% of all multi-generational households), this accounts for 1.28 million(2) homes across the UK.  A similar Aviva study from 2016 found that older relatives accounted for just 9% of multi-generational households, indicating a dramatic increase of this type of set-up. Further information about the reasons for multi-generational arrangements can be found in notes to editors.(3)

Gareth Hemming, MD Personal Lines, for Aviva says: “While lockdown led to some new multi-generational households, this type of arrangement is already the norm in millions of UK homes, for a multitude of reasons. Many young people are living with parents to save for a house deposit or “boomeranging” back after university, while some older people are living with their families for health or financial reasons – so this is simply a way of life for these households.

“This type of set-up could be set to grow further still. Our data suggests that the number of older people living in multi-generational households has increased over the past four years, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to modern living. As arrangements change and possessions move between houses, people should inform their home insurer to make sure they have the right level of cover for any new circumstances.”

Granny and ‘graddy’ flats grow in popularity

The study also finds as many as one in eight UK homes could soon include additional accommodation in the form of granny (or “graddy”) flats and annexes.

The Aviva How We Live Report finds one in 20 UK households (5%) have such a space already, with converted garages, cellars and separate outbuildings providing extra accommodation. A further 7% of householders say they have plans to develop this type of space.

While “granny flats” were traditionally created with older relatives in mind, the Aviva study suggests younger people are almost as likely to reside in this type of accommodation as older generations, with 27% of people making plans for older relatives, compared to 25% for grown-up children.

However, the report also finds some homeowners have commercial motives. Nearly a quarter (24%) of homeowners who have or plan to develop granny flats intend to rent them out as holiday lets, while one in six (16%) are thinking of taking in lodgers.

The following table shows how households plan to develop and use this type of accommodation with different people in mind

Granny flat / annexe designed with following inhabitants in mind:  Percentage of householders who have / plan to develop a granny flat or annexe choosing this option:
Older relative (e.g. elderly parent) 27%
Grown-up child(ren) 25%
Rented out as short home-stay / holiday let 24%
Other relative 19%
Rented out to lodger 16%
No one in particular 7%
Other – please specify 2%

Gareth Hemming adds: “The events of this year have focused many people’s minds on the home. We’ve already seen that 85% of householders made some form of home improvement during lockdown, but the How We Live study suggests some have more radical developments in mind. Lockdown changed the make-up of some households, as young people returned home from university and older people joined support bubbles, so it’s possible that this has helped to crystalise people’s ideas for family accommodation.

“It’s important that people inform their home insurer if they are planning to make changes to their properties, before and after the developments are completed, particularly if they are adding new buildings or changing the use of accommodation. This will help to ensure homes are covered during and after any building works, providing peace of mind for everyone at that address.”

Download our How we live report (PDF 5.66 MB)

- Ends -

Media Enquiries:

Sarah Poulter

UK External Communications


All data relates to a survey of 4,002 randomly selected UK adults aged 16 and upwards, carried out by Censuswide Research on behalf of Aviva between 10-17 July 2020, unless stated otherwise. Of this sample, 1,345 respondents stated they were living in a multigenerational household.

(1)     Based on 27.8 million UK households (ONS).

(2)     Based on 27.8 million UK households (ONS) and 4.5% of households who said an older relative lived with within their home, according to the Aviva How We Live study.

(3)     Multi-generational living: Table of reasons: 

Type of multi-generational arrangement(s) in household Proportion of all UK households with this arrangement (2020) (4) Proportion of multi-generational households with this arrangement (2020) (4)
Adult children still living with parents (have not yet moved out) 13% 38%
Adult children living with parents while studying at university 4% 11%
Adult children moved home after university/higher education 4% 11%
Adult children moved back home during lockdown 3% 8%
Parent or elderly relative moved in for health reasons 2% 7%
Adult children moved back home following a relationship break-up 2% 7%
Other reasons 2% 5%
Adult children moved back home to save up for a house deposit 2% 5%
Parent or elderly relative moved in during lockdown 1% 4%
Parent or elderly relative moved in for financial reasons 1% 2%
Adult children moved back home for other reasons 1% 2%
Parent or elderly relative moved in for other reasons <1% <1%

(4)     Some households may incorporate more than one multi-generational living arrangement. Respondents were asked to select the best match for their circumstances.

Notes to editors:

  • We are the UK's leading diversified insurer and we operate in the UK, Ireland and Canada. We also have international investments in India and China.
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