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So where is the kid’s room?

A young couple wants to start a family – so they are looking to move to a suitable home. Can they afford to build a house? Is an apartment in a central location more affordable and practical? What kind of amenities need to be factored in? Are the property, the complex and the neighbourhood child-friendly or even suitable for infants – buggies, for instance – at all? And: is there enough space, both inside and out?

Young families and their particular requirements

Besides the basic issues of moving into a new, larger home (old versus new, location, buying or renting and of course the costs), young families are soon confronted with a barrage of questions that touch on completely unrelated aspects and go way beyond the simple question of “where is the kid’s room?”. The questions that expecting parents need to address are focused on future everyday routines, (local) amenities such as kindergartens, schools, doctors, leisure facilities and above all the social environment. Do friends or parents live close by? How accessible is the new home, also by public transport? What are the neighbours like? Will our child be happy here because there are playgrounds, other kids and opportunities for age-appropriate pursuits? And is the new property viable in the long term when the baby has grown into a teenager or even moved away from home?

Suitable for young families: structural and social aspects

Naturally, viable projects for expecting parents and young families will provide appropriate and suitable living and usable space within their own four walls; and this will always be a completely personal decision. But modern and contemporary housing also comes with sharing concepts and versatile common areas that are attractive to young and growing families. Leisure pursuits and social activities such as afternoon meet-ups, communal meals, parties and children’s programmes are equally integral as shared workspaces or kitchens, perhaps even youth and club rooms (children’s/parents’ associations), offices and accommodation for guests. Communal gardens, playgrounds and roof terraces add the finishing touches to facilities that are suitable for (young) families.

Once these more structural aspects to strengthen cohesion have been adequately addressed, the next issue will inevitably relate to key social aspects affecting more than just young families. Co-working, yard sales, flea markets and car sharing deserve to be mentioned at this point, although social interaction goes way than that. A recent study (refer to the source at the end of the article) highlights the importance of exchanging ideas with other (young) parents. “Being there for each other” (for those without a family support network close by), sharing ideas, offering and receiving small favours and assistance in everyday life, also giving comfort and encouragement and listening are the key ingredients in building a satisfied life as a young family. Way over half the families that live in modern, communal housing projects stress the importance of these points and confirm that they benefit from them several times a week.

The ability to look after or supervise the children of neighbours is mentioned as a particular relief. 78% of parents of 6 to 9 year old children confirm in the study referenced below that the shared housing project significantly eases their burdens, especially when balancing their careers with family life.

Growing families, breathing living spaces

But the children of young families do not remain small for ever. For a new housing project to be perceived as family friendly, it should provide an extended family network and enable versatile uses further down the road as a living and growing environment: will the communal living spaces adapt to changing life stories? Equally pertinent is the issue of potential adaptability of communal living spaces in times of social crises (e.g. COVID 19. shared home schooling for families), the use of guest rooms or communal spaces as co-working facilities and the ability to convert the property into efficiently shared apartments for adults during the “empty nest phase”.

Focusing on the new “us”

Addressing a wide range of considerations, requirements and options, Bachweg in Eggersdorf near Graz home to a contemporary housing project with good prospects for young families, individuals or couples. It has space to develop support networks to assist and accommodate the needs of families, as well as opportunities for intra- and intergenerational encounters. The integration of living and working spaces, local infrastructure, an extended social environment and spaces for children to grow up offer families perspectives and relief in everyday routines and for later stages in their lives.


Study: Families in communal housing (term: 01/04/2019 – 31/05/2021), German Youth Institute with Karlsruhe University of Applied Sciences, lead investigator Dr Martina Heitkötter: