Abstract The aim of this article is to introduce an integrative and more comprehensive approach to understanding and measuring perceived housing in old age. First, four conceptual domains of subjective housing were introduced, based on the assumption that each of the domains brings a unique perspective to the understanding of perceived housing: housing satisfaction, usability in the home, meaning of home and housing-related control beliefs. Second, relationships between the proposed domains were empirically examined using correlative analysis, factor analysis and structural equation modelling (SEM) techniques. Cross-cultural similarities and differences in the observed empirical relations were then analysed across three Western European countries. Data were drawn from a sub-sample of the participants in the European ENABLE-AGE Project amounting to 1223 old adults aged 80–89 years and living alone in their private homes in Swedish, British, and German urban regions. The ENABLE-AGE data set has the advantage of containing measures related to all four domains of perceived housing which are the focus of this paper. The results of exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis as well as of the SEM give empirical support for the usefulness of the theoretically proposed four component model of perceived housing. Furthermore, multi-group analysis supports the assumption of similarity of perceived housing among older people living in the different countries.