For Australian downsizers, constructing a pair of duplexes opens up an exciting range of possibilities - including providing a new low-maintenance home, accommodating family members and also delivering a retirement income source.

Duplexes come in many different names - including semi-detached dwellings and attached dual occupancies. They can be on a single title or two titles (which allows each dwelling to be individually owned and sold).

According to research by property valuers Herron Todd White published in 2018, more downsizers are constructing duplexes, typically after demolishing the family home or buying land as a development site.

“A growing trend is for baby boomers to demolish their existing family home and replace it with a new duplex pair,” the Herron Todd White report said.

“This allows them to remain in their local area living in one side, while either selling the remaining side to fund their retirement or splitting the cost with an adult son or daughter to allow them to provide support for grandchildren.

“(The duplex can) also assist the son or daughter to enter the property market.”

Duplexes the perfect option for multi-generational living

The trend towards duplexes also reflects the fact that, in the post-COVID age, many people have realised the importance of being close to family members, particularly elderly parents. 

Research by retirement living provider Stockland found that, because of COVID-19, Australians aged over 55 are increasingly wanting to retire near their families. In fact, 66 per cent said being close to family had now become the most important factor in retirement. 

Duplexes provide the perfect multi-generational living environment, where the children can live on one side and the parents on the other. Both have their own dwelling and privacy, but are also close enough to help each other out.

State Governments are promoting duplexes as a new and desirable “missing middle” housing option which sits between apartments and detached houses.

Typically, duplexes allow downsizers to move into a more compact and modern housing type but at the same time retain access to a small garden and potentially collect solar energy and rainwater from their roof.

Comment from Downsizing.com.au

Downsizing.com.au CEO Amanda Graham said “Duplexes offer a very flexible option for empty nesters and downsizers, especially if they want to live near to elderly parents, adult children or grandchildren. Many downsizers are keen to help their children purchase a property, and a duplex can give them a start on the property ladder in a variety of ways.”

“Duplexes have the advantage of allowing extended family members to live close by but retain their independence and age in place. They also have potential to generate investment income and capital gains.”

“It’s possible for downsizers to live in one duplex and then rent out or sell the other duplex on the open market, or rent or sell it to a family member, including younger or older family members who would benefit from having family close-by.”

Find out more

Downsizing.com.au has prepared a series of stories about duplexes, to help guide downsizers who are considering embarking on a duplex build. 

Click on the links below to find out about:

Also see more information about the Herron Todd White and Stockland research.

Downsizing.com.au has Australia’s best range of retirement and downsizing-friendly property - start your search here

Helen Hawkes is a business and lifestyle journalist who has written for clients including CPA Australia, Westpac, Colonial First State, The Australian Financial Review, QSuper and the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees. She is also the owner of interior styling and homewares business The Little Green Room. Helen has bought and sold five houses and is currently planning a comfortable retirement.