Centrelink Q&A: How would shared housing affect the Age Pension?

Robyn is looking to move closer to the city and is considering buying a house with a friend, who also wants to be close to Melbourne. But Robyn is worried it will hurt her Age Pension eligibility.


Q. Robyn:
I am on a full Age Pension, as is a friend of mine. We are both in our 70s, and while we are the best of friends, we are not in a relationship.

We both own and live in our houses in country Victoria, but I want to be closer to Melbourne where my grandkids and sisters are, while my friend wants to be closer to her grandkids and family. Neither one of us can afford to buy a house on our own in Melbourne.

It was suggested to us by a mutual friend that we could buy a house together in Melbourne as ‘tenants in common’. We could also set up in our wills that if one died the other could live in the house until they died or decided to sell. That way, we could afford a house in a better suburb that was large enough for both of us to live in quite independently of one another.

I have known this friend for a long time and we do a lot together, so I am confident that we would make it work well. However, I have no idea how this would affect my pension.

What are your thoughts? I will make an appointment with Centrelink to discuss this shared property purchase, but wondered if there is anything else I need to know.

A: If you are planning on the house in Melbourne being your primary place of residence, it will be exempt from the assets test, and the fact that ownership is shared should have minimal impact on your pension.

If you are selling your house in country Victoria to fund your new purchase, then any amount you have left over from the sale/purchase will be assessed. But if you keep it as an investment, it would be assessed under the income and assets test, which will affect your pension payments.

As you suggested, an appointment with Centrelink is best to ascertain all the implications.

Have you thought about sharing a house to cut down on costs? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Can I live overseas and still get the Age Pension?


  1. This question all comes about because the system pays singles and couples differently. As has been raised here before there is little or no justification for treating people differently because of their living or relationship arrangements. There should be one rate of pension for everybody. Having two rates is discriminatory and should be challenged under anti-discrimination laws as it might be illegal.

    • This highlights the total BS about it costing less for a couple to live in a property than two singles. So two friends can live in the same house and each get the full singles pension?

      Doesn’t someone in Canberra actually sit down and do the numbers? As a couple, our costs are generally the same as two singles. We struggle to find the supposed savings.

    • You don’t even need separate everything. Just be two singles, who declare themselves to not be a couple, can live in a one bedroom apartment and get two single pensions.

      On the flip side, it allows each to hold their own cash so only one gets penalized if the other goes over a threshold. Lots of benefits, but I can’t see the drawbacks.

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