Permanent multi-generational homes: Would you do it?

April 5 2013 | offbeatbride
Could I live here happily with my mom, and my kids… forever? (By: hobvias sudoneighm - CC BY 2.0)
Could I live here happily with my mom, and my kids… forever? (By: hobvias sudoneighmCC BY 2.0)
My mother and I are contemplating buying a house together and establishing a multi-generational home. The idea was that it would be a house that she could retire in, that I would care for it and her as she aged, and hopefully find its way to my children. We're American and, for most of our peers and relatives, this is not a common practice. We've reviewed articles on moving back in with parents for the short term, but don't see much advice for the long term.

Has anyone else on Offbeat Home & Life lived, or perhaps grew up, in a multi-generational home? If so, I would love to hear about your experiences. -Claire

  1. My great aunt and uncle did just this.

    They had 116 acres out in east Texas. When they bought it, they built their own A-frame house. When their 2 daughters were mostly grown up, they added on a huge extention (which ended up being about twice the size of the A-frame). One daughter moved out, and the other stayed when she married and had a son. My aunt and uncle mostly kept to the "old" part of the house, and everyone else occupied the "new." But the kitchen and main living room were on the old side, so everyone always gathered there together.

    I visited quite often when I was a kid. I was never aware of any issues that arose because of the 3 generations living there all at the same time. It was probably a big help in that the house was so large, you could easily keep to yourself if you felt the need to, but it had common areas big enough for most of the extended family to visit as well.

    They did eventually give up the house several years ago. My cousins moved out to start their own small ranch, and there's no chance that their son wanted to start a family there. My aunt and uncle just got too old to be able to care for the entire property themselves. If my cousins had wanted to stay longer (they didn't leave until they were over 50), the house would probably still be in the family.

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  2. My family has done this in some form or another, though generally for the short term the reality is very very similar. My brother and his fiance are currently living with my mom, and my mom has lived with myself, husband and daughter. My mom also lived with her mom for a while in order to try and help her after my grandfather passed away.

    I would say go for it, especially if you have a really great relationship with your mom, I would consider maybe getting a house (or splitting the one you have), into two "apartments". That way everyone can have their space when they need it, and can come together when they also need it. Cohousing may be a better search word for you, though it generally involves more than one family and is a large complex, the idea is essentially the same. Each family has their own space, but common areas are there for everyone to use and come together with.

    I would also start going through everyone's possessions and start really thinking about what you need and want. Combining two households into one can be really tough in terms of space and stuff, you don't want to feel like you don't have ownership over everything and visa versa for your mom. You also don't want to have a lot of "things" in storage, this can lead to a lot of stress for everyone involved. Making everyone feel that they have ownership over the house and the items in the house is important to making it not feel like you are a visitor in your own home.

    I would also go over parenting rules if you have kids, who is going to get up in the middle of the night, treats, etc. It would be similar if you were combining families, there will be a new dynamic in terms of parenting. If these things aren't somewhat sorted out early on, it can become very stressful.

    Otherwise, I think its a great thing to do. The nice thing when my mom was living with us was that she could spend time with her granddaughter whenever she wanted. Our daughter really benefited from having that one on one time with grandma, and since my mom moved out it has been something we all have missed. I am not going to lie, it can be stressful, but set up properly it can be a really great thing.

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    • This has been majorly helpful, thank you. One thing that we're both worried about is that as much as we get along, we wanted to maintain some sense of autonomy. So your suggestions for "cohousing" and establishing boundaries with space and possessions is great.

      I know for some short term cohousing families there's trouble establishing authority (or relinquishing it, I guess). A kind of "My House, My Rules". Did this come up for you?

      • Yes, that "My House, My Rules" has come up pretty much every time someone in our family has co-housed with someone else. Not intentionally, but more because we didn't establish things right away. It works itself out, but there can be a lot of tension until things get worked out.

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    • I wrote my college research paper on co-housing. It's such a great idea that I would love to see gain more traction. I would go for it if I had the opportunity and the right community. 🙂

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    • I made a bigger comment later on, but when combining stuff or coming up with "house rules", please think about the legal impact this change would have on each other.
      Who "owns" the house? Who "owns" the stuff in it? How will bills be paid? What if one of you gets married/divorced?

      5 agree
  3. My husband and I have talked with my parents about having a large house or a duplex with them. I love the idea, I see so many ways that it can be beneficial for both sides. Make sure there are ground rules and boundaries in place before hand and have a plan on how to talk it out if there are problems that come up.
    We lived with my parents for four years while we were saving for a house and it went quite well, that is why we would do it again. As my parents are getting older I like that we can step in and help them out with things that are becoming difficult for them to do.
    Go for it.

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    • I'm right there with you regarding the benefits. It's really important to me that she'll be able to relax and enjoy retirement.

      As for housing, duplex is our ideal situation in terms of just the space, but basic searches online don't turn up much for our region!

      • My family bought a 2 family "semi-attached" house (that they use as a 1 family). They found it listed under the "rental property for sale" real estate listings, as the owner at the time was renting out both sides of the house.

        So maybe check to see if there is separate section for rental or investment properties for sale, a 2 family house might be listed there.

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        • Also maybe other keywords like MIL apartment, granny flat, etc. I'm sure there's a lot of other (not always flattering) terms for houses with a shared cohabitation kind of set-up.

  4. I'm still very young (23) and am one of those people that moved back in with my parents briefly. For me, the biggest problem was they still treated me like I was in high school, and I honestly regressed to acting like I was still in high school. Now, don't get me wrong, I freaking love my parents. My mom's my best friend besides my fiance. But it just wasn't working for us. I think the main problem was that I just didn't feel independent as I never had the chance to create my own life as I had come back straight from college.

    If you already have your own life and feel independent, I don't think it would be a huge issue, so long as everyone sets boundaries and respects them.

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    • My Mum and I had similar issues. Not quite the high school level, but because it was a temporary situation, I was living in her house. The only space that was "mine" was my room and even then it was not really mine. The biggest issue was of expectations. It's important to have a clear understanding of negotiated rules. My mum is the type to wonder when I will be home, will I need supper, what time should I be expected. She cannot help waiting up, at least to some extent. I felt frustrated going from living on my own for years to suddenly having someone want to know if I'd be home for supper or what time I would be home, what I was doing, etc. (Thankfully my husband and I have negotiated this a bit better.) I also took advantage of having supper made for me, having someone else purchase groceries, etc.

      I think if you negotiate it as a partnership it can be totally doable. Make sure that you discuss expectations and things like babysitting, household chores (what is manageable for who), finances, space ownership/decorating, etc. Shared spaces should feel like shared spaces.

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    • Yeah, I've had a number of people move in with their parents and have some issues. Either because they HAD gotten used to being independent and resented going back to living in someone else's home with some one else's rules, or like you, never got a chance to properly develop independence.

      When I graduated college, however, my Dad and I moved into an apartment together, as he is a long distance commuter and needed a "part time" apartment and I was an intern who needed super cheap living accomodations. Even though he owned the building (it was a triplex) we went in with the understanding that we were roommates and acted accordingly. We moved in at the same time, furnished things together, hung out and drank beers on the porch, etc. I have never felt like I moved "back" in with my parents. My dad and I were roommates for a year, and it was surprisingly awesome, but as far as our authority over the space went, we were equals.

      I think, if you're planning on establishing an intentionally multi-generational home, it's important to frame it this way. You are not a boomerang kid moving back in with your parents. She is not a retiree moving in with her daughter. You are two people, who happen to be related, moving in TOGETHER.

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  5. I think that multi-generational houses are excellent. Unfortunately, I had a bad experience with it. After my parents divorced, my mother could not afford to buy on her own. I was not looking to buy a house at the time, but I wanted to help her out. In order to protect ourselves, we had a clause written in that if either of us died, the other would be the sole owner of the house regardless of whether the person that died was married at the time of death. That was the only eventuality that we considered. Everything went well for two years. Then, my mother started dating someone who treated me badly. She refused to admit that there was a problem. Then, they got engaged, and I decided that I needed to move out. We had never planned for something like that to happen. They "bought me out," but I ended up losing a lot of money in the deal. I also found out after they got married that in their will they left half of the house to his son, and my four siblings and I split the other half. My mother and I were extremely close before she started dating that man, and I never would have believed that something like this could have ever happened.

    So, I do encourage you to move in with your mother, I think that it is important to think about all of the possible things that could happen and what you would do in those situations.

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  6. My husband and I are hoping to buy land with my parents in a few years, once they sell their house. Ideally we would be able to build two small houses near each other, but a larger house would work too, as long as we have our own space.

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    • This is what I want to do with my family- I am one of five children, the oldest three married, one with a child. My older sisters have a different mother than me and my younger siblings, but their mother is still a part of the family. I'd love to have a huge amount of land that we could build small houses on and grow food, keep a small amount of livestock, etc. So far my mother and oldest sister are down for it (as are her husband and my own) but the rest of the family seems kinda… ehhh.

      4 agree
  7. It was not always an unusual dynamic. It used to be pretty much the norm, especially as parents started aging. My family when I was growing up all lived within the same yard, basically, but in different houses (my parents, grandparents and great-grands) and everyone looked after everyone. Now my parents and my last living grandmother share a home. As a child growing up with that dynamic, I personally found it to be wonderful. We also have friends in areas where real estate is at a premium (such as New York City) who have several generations living in a home together and nobody bats an eye at it.

    Not to be negative Nancy, but the world is changing. Our economic climate is changing. The safety nets and support systems provided by the government that many of us hope to have to take care of us when we're old or sick are no longer a sure bet. People 100 years ago lived together and were self sufficient together and took care of one another as a family. I think that it's only common sense to consider moving back to that dynamic, because I think that a future is coming where it will again be our best option for looking after our families and making a successful life together.

    I hope it works out well for you and am interested in learning more from your experiences. (And yes, I would totally do it. I've talked to my folks about moving in with us when my grandma passes, but it seems more likely that they will end up with my brother and his wife, who are in the process of buying a larger house with this in mind. They plan to have children soon, and the idea is that my parents will live with them and help out with the house. My dad will work because he likes his job and my mother will retire and provide childcare. My parents and my brother and his wife have lived together before.)

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    • It's precisely because of the economic obstacles that I'm looking into this. My mother isn't as pessimistic, but I work, albeit indirectly, in the employee benefits industry and one thing I've noticed from observation and articles is that healthcare and retirement are looking more and more unstable. Not to mention, many of my friends and I realized that some of our peers in this area got a huge boost in assets and financial security because their parents subsidized rent or housing for them. I'd like to set something up where my child has that choice as well.

      Thanks for your thoughts on this!

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  8. Growing up, we lived in a two flat with my grandmother. I loved it. I felt so lucky to have had the chance to be so close to her while she was still here. What was so nice about our set up is that it was basically a two flat on it's side, with two complete houses attached by a hallway so everyone had their own privacy. Obviously not an option available to everyone, but it worked well for us.
    One hurdle my mother had to deal with was cattiness from her siblings when my grandmother died and her splitting the house in half with half going to my parents and half to her and her siblings, even though it was all laid out very clearly in the appropriate paperwork.

    1 agrees
  9. I have no direct experience to offer on this, other than as a long-time expat (American living abroad) that has seen how many other cultures do this gracefully and with great benefit to all in the household. Seeing kids who get the benefit of growing up with their grandparents (and sometimes aunts, uncles & cousins) right there – and truly a part of their nuclear family – has often made me contemplate how to find some sort of balance on this in my own life someday. Thanks for bringing this up, and thanks to all who have shared experiences in the comments. So helpful and fascinating to stretch beyond our typical expectations of hyper-independence in the American lifestyle!

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  10. My grandmother moved in with us when I was 10 and lived with my family until she passed away 3.5 years later. I absolutely loved having her be a part of our household and I know that she greatly enjoyed watching me grow up up close. The interesting thing about the arrangement is that it was sort of by accident. My family was moving from Missouri to Michigan and she came with us. At first she looked at apartments, then we looked at houses with mother-in-law apartments. When we couldn't find either an apartment or suitable house, we moved into a single family house with a large back bedroom that we planned to add an extra kitchen to so she would have her own apartment. In the end, she enjoyed being part of the family and we never wound up building the addition.

    I remember her cooking a lot of the family meals since she loved to cook and going to the grocery store gave her an excuse to leave the house every day. My mother still cooked many meals as well, and I'm assuming they worked out who would do what in advance. Cleaning was handled by my parents, my brother and myself since my grandma was in her 70s, plus we had a cleaning lady come in every three weeks. Grandma would split her time between the open family areas and her back bedroom, where she had her easy chair and a TV. She would "babysit" me if my older brother wasn't around, but probably no more than when she had her own apartment back in Missouri!

    My advice would be to actually recreate what we did by accident and start out with more separation than you think you'll actually need. It's a lot easier to decide to spend more time with each other than to carve out personal space once everything is merged. I would spend time talking about household duties as well. Will you each be responsible for cleaning your separate spaces or will there be overlap? Will you cook and eat together or separately? If together, who will cook which meals? Will finances be merged (like a marriage) or household bills split (like roommates)? Will your mother provide childcare when you're not there? How often? How much notice does she need? Generally speaking, these are all technical things that you can work out! It was incredibly fulfilling living with my grandma and I hope your kids feel the same.

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  11. My dad and two of my grandparents (separately) all live in the houses that their parents owned. For our family, we moved into my dad's childhood home when I was young to help take care of my grandma. We built an addition for her, so she would have her own space. Now my sister and her boyfriend live there.

    It was neat to be around my grandma all the time. However, she was sick and it really stressed my mom out to try and raise three girls, take care of Grandma, and work on top of that.

    One cautionary thing is the financial aspect, however you end up doing it. My parents bought the house from my grandma, thus having a new mortgage, and also spent money on the addition, parking spaces, etc. They were counting on many more years of her being alive (and therefore contributing an income from social security or whatever). It's really influenced my parents' money situation for years and years.

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  12. When I finished graduate school, I moved back in with my parents with the intent of it being a short-term stay. Well, that has turned into an almost two-year stay already, as my husband and I married shortly after graduation and our incomes do not leave enough for us to afford to move.

    From my experience, a lot depends on the relationship you have with your parents. As someone previously mentioned, it works well if you've had a few years of independence. My parents and I have developed a more peer-type relationship, where they don't feel the need to look after me as a child, though I will always be their child they wish to look after, if you know what I mean.

    Overall, it has a lot of benefits–we all look after one another and help each other out wherever we need. It does, however, have its drawbacks: with the intent to eventually move, we haven't downsized in possessions–we essentially have a ton of items in storage in our bedroom and that sort of thing.

    As someone who enjoys more adventurous (aka, non-bland/simple) cooking that that with which I was raised, it can be difficult–1. Not everyone is as adventurous as I and thus, there is some skepticism/fear when I cook, and 2. It kills me that I can't have my own kitchen setup/that I have to share a tiny kitchen with other people walking in and out all the time/prepping other food.

    For the most part, though, it works. My sister and brother-in-law have expressed interest in my husband and me moving in with them when they buy a house, as they would love to save in daycare costs and have me watch their kids (which I would do). I have made clear that we must have our own kitchen and that sort of thing if this is to be a possibility. Probably for us, the ideal would be two sides of a duplex–for independence while still being close and connected.

    Sorry for the long message, it's just something that is very much on my mind, especially as my parents are getting older. I'm curious, too, for those who live in areas where multi-generational living is common: how often do the aging go into assisted living/nursing or retirement homes? I would imagine that this type of facility is not as prevalent…

    1 agrees
  13. I'd suggest making sure that the bedrooms are of a suitable size so that you always have your own room.

    I wouldn't want to be in the situation where I'd be moving into the big bedroom that was formerly my mothers. I'd prefer to always keep my own space, not have to live in something that I associated so strongly as being someone else's room.

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  14. My first reaction is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxRX6LXDpWs

    I love both sets of our parents, but yeah, no. I would be okay with having them on the premises if we had big piece of land (we'd love to have a little farm) but not in the same building. I need my own space in a big way. I'd reconsider when and if one of them needed constant in-home care…but I don't really excel at caregiving (one of the many reasons I don't have kids) so I think honestly that'd be better left to one of my sisters anyway, haha. I totally commend people who can do it, though!

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  15. I love that other people can make this family arrangement work, but this is my personal nightmare. I'm lucky enough to love both of our families, but I'm also an introvert who needs lots of personal space and quiet time to recharge, not to mention that both of our sets of parents would drive me to insanity if I had to be around them full time. This could be revisited if/when someone is elderly and we all decide it would be better for them to live with us. Otherwise, no.

    But if you and your family have the right personalities to make it work, that's awesome! Have at it and good luck!

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  16. I have not done this, aside from briefly living with my parents a couple of times in the past decade. I think I could definitely live in a multi-generational home with my parents and in some ways it would be a great situation. However, there are a few things I think would be important.
    -Enough space for everyone to be able to get away and do their own thing. My dad loves gardening, outdoor, fitx-it, wood-working projects, so he would need some space for that. My mom also likes working on projects and needs room for all of her books, and her own comfy chair in a quiet spot to read and watch tv. I would like some sort of sewing and craft area, I'm sure my husband would like an office or a desk for working or playing on the computer. My daughter needs somewhere to play and store her toys, and hopefully a safe, enclosed outdoor space. I don't think we would need a huge living area, but we'd have to make lots of multipurpose spaces to fit everyone's needs. If we did a similar living arrangement with my parents, we would probably get a piece of land and have multiple living and working spaces – even if one of them was just a mobile or home or tiny cottage or something like that. Sheds, shops, garages, storage, etc for working on projects and maybe having places for guests to stay.
    If we were going to be living in one actual house together, having a small kitchenette , at least 2 bathrooms, and hopefully 2 living room/den areas would be great, along with a craft room/office.
    I think it can definitely work, but having everything organized, comfortable, and an equal feeling of ownership over the place would be important to me.

  17. When I was four, my parents built a second house on our five-acre property for my paternal grandparents. My grandmother had to go into a nursing home a few years later, as her dementia required more care than my grandfather could give, but I loved having him next door. He cooked dinner most nights, and would look after me when my parents had an evening out. As his health failed, my mom looked after him. (My other grandparents had a similar situation with my uncle's family.)

    Two years ago I moved back home, into my grandfather's old house. I'd been away for ten years. It's mostly been a success. I have to assert myself sometimes, because I'm the baby of the family and have always been treated as such. Mom's alone now and she is happy to have the company. We take turns cooking dinner, and on the weekends discuss how our weeks will be and what nights we'll eat together. We've all had to adjust, but I'm very happy with the situation and looking forward to my future children having a grandparent next door, too.

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  18. i'm afraid i don't have any advice, but i just wanted to say that i think this is *so cool*.

    we've been talking a lot about how practical and cool the idea of shared family housing is (in our case with friends, not family due to location).

    the single-family home sort of feels like a "built to fail" thing: you two adults (or one!) are supposed to bring in all the money, take care of/raise the kids, deal with housekeeping, feed everyone, and also you are expected to have a rich and fulfilling life outside of your home. given that, i *love* the idea of sharing all those duties (and the fun stuff!) among more folks – it seems infinitely practical. given the right folks, of course.

    6 agree
  19. We have bought a duplex with the intention of doing this (or co-housing with another family) in a couple more years. I'd been watching the rental market for months, in case one came along. It did, we bought it (with my parent's money) and for now I'm managing it as a rental. I haven't seen anything comparable come along since, so I'm glad we pounced on it. I don't like being a landlord, but I figure that's the price I pay.

    For now, we've planted fruit trees so they'll be bearing by the time we move in.

    3 agree
  20. I actually grew up in a multigenerational situation and then moved back into one as an adult. I'll break this up into three parts, because it's kind of covered three phases of my life.

    When I was in kindergarden, my grandfather had a massive stroke. My mother is an only child, and with her parents living across the country there was no way for her to help them as much as she would've liked across that distance. At the time, my parents had purchased a duplex because they were using the money from the rental apartment portion to help subsidise their mortgage as a growing family. But, given the circumstances my grandparents moved into the apartment in what was originally going to be a temporary situation until they found a place of their own. They lived there until my grandmother passed ten years later and my grandfather moved into a veteran care center a few years afterward. From my perspective, it was great. I loved having my grandparents so close and being able to spend time with my grandmother every day after school all the way into high school. However, it was difficult for my mother at times. She is very 'modern' (according to my grandfather) and there were times when the fact that she was a museum curator caused friction between the two of them in day to day interactions. Eventually, she ended up coming home to help with medical situations for them in the long run. I think the lesson learned there is really understanding your relationship with your parents before moving back into that domestic situation again. If you have significant differences of opinion, living together doesn't make them go away. But, sometimes the benefits greatly outweigh the difficulties.

    The second phase came for my husband (then fiance) and I when I was in college. We moved into that same apartment that my grandparents had occupied so that my parents could help us going to college. We were given very inexpensive rent based on the understanding that they were trying to support our education and they weren't able to pay for my college tuition at the time. However, being honest here, I kind of took advantage of the situation as a young adult more than I should have. We didn't have a formal lease and there were times when they had expectations for what we were going to contribute to the household that weren't 100% what we expected or actually did. Again, looking back, having real world expectations would have helped me I think to appreciate what I was getting from my parents. Even if they hadn't 'enforced' the lease every month, I would have had a better understanding of what they needed for the arrangement to be best for both of us.

    Now, we live in a house that shares a back yard with my parents. As married adults (we don't have children) this has been much better the second time around. Now my mother is the one who's having health concerns, my husband as well, and having the family so close together has been a wonderful benefit. I'm not going to pretend that it's always perfect, but it is much better than it was the first time around. While every once in a while I do seriously consider running far far away, most days it's a wonderful thing to be able to look out the back window and wave to my dad while he's out in the garden.

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  21. At this moment, no. But my husband and I have had discussions about my father, because my mother's health has been in decline, and he doesnt really know how to cook or do laundry. We agreed that if the need arose, we would find a way to accommodate my Dad, and we think it would benefit all of us.

  22. My husband and I are considering moving (with our about-to-be-born daughter!) across the country and we'll probably be moving into my parents' house, which will also be housing them and my brother while we look for work and get our feet back underneath us.

    I'll be honest, I would be much more nervous about this if it weren't for a couple things:
    -My cousin, with her husband and daughters, live with my aunt (her mom) and her aunt (her mom's sister). That house is laid out almost like three mini-apartments with a shared kitchen. The rest of my aunt's side of the family lives near by and frequently visits. My cousin's daughters were obviously benefiting from having so many people who love them around. They were absurdly happy, well adjusted kids. That arrangement helped with health and child-care issues.

    1 agrees
    • Huh, that's weird. It posted prematurely but the edit box didn't show up.

      The other thing is that my mother had something sort-of similar when she was a kid. Her parents had an apartment in a building owned by I believe her grandparents. Her grandparents were upstairs. Her aunts and uncles were in apartments down the hall. I plan on this being temporary but it doesn't seem so weird to her.

      Good luck! I would say it probably helps if you've been independent for awhile and if your parents are in the habit of respecting the fact you're an adult.

      1 agrees
  23. My grandparents are getting on in age, so they moved in with my stepmom. Then she got very sick, and they were taking care of her more than she was taking care of them. They lived two states away. My husband and I packed all three of them up and moved them to the city we live in. We wanted to find a place big enough for all of us, but we couldn't find anything close enough to our jobs. In the end we kept our town home in the city close to our jobs and bought them a big house in the burbs. For now they're close enough that we can take care of the stuff they need help with, and when they need more full time care, there will be plenty of room for the hubby and I to move in.

  24. I tried this, I really did try! Last spring my man and I sold my Condo and moved into my Dad's place with the intent of buying a house with a suite that we all could live in. After we started looking we realized that it was not going to work. My Dad couldn't bring himself to be ok with living in the suited part of the house and with my man and I planning on having a family soon, living in the smaller basement suite while my single Dad got the larger upstairs wasn't going to work for me either. Both of us were stubbornly sticking to our guns when I realized something had to give. So we decided that our relationship was more important than buying a house (well, that and it freed the man and I up to move to an island in another province).

    So, the only advice I have is make sure you're both willing to compromise. It's important to go into it as peers and not "I'm the parent, that's why" or "I don't have to listen to you. . I'm all grown up now".

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  25. A friend of mine has a house with an in-law apartment. She lives with her husband and kids in the "main" part of the house, and her mom lives upstairs in the in-law. Her mom has her own kitchen and even her own entrance, but it's basically just the upstairs of the house. As far as I know they don't really have any issues. I'm pretty sure they've set some type of boundary rules and usually knock before going upstairs, but it's nice that they're so close.

    1 agrees
  26. My husband, my dad and I just rented a house together. My dad has some health issues and not able to live alone anymore. Dad lives on the main floor and we live downstairs. We share a kitchen which is good. We share our evening meals and shop together. It really helps us all. Our plan is to buy a house in the future but we needed to move in a hurry so renting was our best option.

  27. I could not live in the same home as my family. I could live near to them (and do- both my and my husband's parents are a four block walk, 1 minute drive) but living WITH them seems like hell. My husband and I lived with my grandparents (an apartment above their garage, totally separate but still together) for years. It was awful. Not because I don't love my grandparents, but because we really wanted our own space and they didn't seem to enjoy having us. We ultimately became caretakers for them and their property but were not treated as adults. We had to move out, which made me feel guilty but was necessary. Now we live with my brother, and while it's not financially feasible (for us or him) for him to move out (and he would really like to!). It's… tense. Mostly because the house is too small and we keep such totally different hours and lifestyles that it's hard not to be tripping over eachother.

    My ideal solution would be a big plot of land with smaller houses built on to it for my various siblings and family members. One of my sisters and her husband are actively perusing this idea and I would totally buy into it if they found something workable.

    1 agrees
  28. We're thinking of doing something similar to this when my husband's parent's retire. They're lovely people, and I'd love to have my kids grow up with their grandparents so close by. However, his mother has some hoarder tendencies, so there would have to be some very clear boundaries between "our" space and "their" space. A duplex or separate house close by would be better than a single house, no matter how big it was. I'm really glad this article and comments are here….it's great to start thinking about how it might be able to work!

  29. My sister and parents have this arrangement quite by accident – my sister moved in when she was expecting, then her fiancĂ© (now husband) and it's worked for them going on seven years now. Personally, I can't imagine it, but if you have a stable relationship with your parents, I guess it works.

  30. Wow! I'm amazed at all the responses! Sadly, I haven't had the time to go through everyone's right now, but I will throughout the weekend. Thanks again!

    1 agrees
  31. My mom grew up in a multi-generational home. After WWII, her parents couldn't afford a nice house of their own. My great-grandmother signed over hers to them, on the condition that she could always live there. My grandma and grandpa worked, and my great-grandma (her mother) kept the house and took care of the kids. I visited often as a kid, and the three adults seemed to have worked it all out just fine. They didn't have separate quarters–my great-grandma had her own room (but on a different floor of the house) and that was it. I think people of their time expected less than we do in many ways. Throughout my childhood, it seemed there was always someone living there temporarily (my cousins, many of whom needed some support as they moved into adulthood). I never had the impression that my grandparents felt burdened by this or that there was anything unusual in it. It was just family, you know?

    2 agree
  32. Please, please, please! Go see an estate planning attorney who specializes in real property acquisition/purchases. There may be bad tax or end-of-life-care issues surrounding home ownership for both you and your mother, and it WILL impact future generations who want to live in the home.
    Go into it with your eyes open, and really consider things like Medicaid, long term disability or nursing home planning for your mom. Things like estate taxes and pension distributions could also be affected.
    You will save money and peace of mind in the long run if you make the small investment toward a family estate planning scheme. In my geographical area, planning like this runs between $1000 and $3000.

    9 agree
  33. My husband and I bought a home with my parents. We did buy a home where we could specifically have two completely seperate living spaces, and for the most part it has been great! I personally never thought home ownership was for me, and part of the reason was because I wouldn't be able to afford to live in the historic or downtown neighborhoods I love. Going in together meant I could. It also means shared maintenance and when I travel someone is always there.
    The Bad: We needed to have clearly laid out boundaries such as no "motherly" comments lol. We also chose the basement suite, but peoples perception is that we mooch off my parents ( everything is actually 50/50). Also, sometimes it is like living in a condo like when I wanted a large dog but they were all "no more animals on the property"… we had to compromise.

    Would I do it over again? Definately!

    1 agrees
  34. I grew up with my grandma in the house (we lived in the basement of the house my grandfather had built until it became too small, and then we all moved into the house my parents currently live in when I was about 2). She'd help out by watching my brothers and I during the day when our parents weren't home, and by paying"rent," which was really just money for groceries. We eventually had to place her in a home, because her Alzheimer's had caused a few scary experiences for the family (like when she accidentally filled the house with gas and when she fell down the stairs coming to open the door for my little brother and I), so it was better to put her somewhere that she could be safe and taken care of during the day. But I really liked growing up with my grandma there. I was a really shy kid, so even though I didn't have a lot of friends, I had my grandma there to talk to me and teach me stuff. I was really close to her, so when she passed away a few years ago, I was really devastated. I'm happy that I have a lot of memories of spending time with her, though, like climbing in bed with her when I had bad dreams, because my little brother wouldn't let me in my mom's bed if he was there. 🙂

    I think this could be a really great idea for your family, especially if you have a good relationship with your mom. I think it would be great for your kids to grow up with their grandmother there.

    1 agrees
  35. The only thing I can add, is a thought about "taking care of my mother" in old-age. You might want to work out some sort of criteria for what that looks like. Taking care of someone with Alzheimers looks different than taking care of someone who is physically challenged in old-age. I would hate for resentment to build up on either side if it's found that you can't adequately care for her needs in the way a live in nurse or assisted facility could. Ya know?

    But I think it sounds like a cool idea, especially with boundaries established. My husband and I lived with his parents for a few months and it worked really well, but it still had moments where it felt like we were intruding in their house and had to live by their rules.

    4 agree
    • I second the thinking about what this would look like 5 or 10 years from now. Is it a good idea for Mom to be on the 1st floor with no stairs? Could you afford a chair lift if her area is upstairs/downstairs? Are there any other accessibility issues that would need to be addressed: bathtub rails, extra-bright lighting, storage labels?

      1 agrees
      • Ah, that's some of the things I've contemplated more about. I can think in the far future about medical and financial concerns but when it comes to the emotional investment and boundaries I'm a bit blind!

        1 agrees
  36. My mom and I are in the process of looking for a 2-unit property right now. We have agreed that each unit will be fully self-contained so that we have our own space. The benefit for her is that she has someone close by to help her out and I get to buy a bigger house!

    1 agrees
  37. This might be a good idea. Something to think about too: if your mother is old enough, she may get a discount on several home-related costs as long as the house is in her name, such as property taxes, utilities, etc.

    1 agrees
  38. My mom grew up with her Grandparents living in a different house in the same farm yard. It was great for her and her immediate family but did cause some tension with aunts and uncles who were jealous of the time she and her siblings got to spend with the grandparents versus the time their children got to spent with the grandparents. I'm sure there were probably personality clashes and other underlying reasons for some of the family tension but that is one thing to think about.

  39. From birth until I was about 8 and my brother was about 13, we lived in a duplex with my parents and my mothers parents.
    Since it was a duplex and everyone had their own spaces, there really wasn't any conflict about personal space or anything like that. My grandparents were already retired and generally had an open door policy where my brother and I could go up there at almost any time. My mom was in college full time and my dad worked full time, so this helped a lot with childcare needs. The conflicts arose in parenting.
    Not that my mom and grandma ever openly disagreed about parenting (that I recall, at least) there was a pattern of 'going upstairs' when we couldn't get what we wanted from mom and dad downstairs. If mom wouldn't make us something special for dinner because we didn't like what she was cooking, we knew grandma would. If we wanted to go to the park, but were grounded, grandma would take us. She was a very spoiling grandma. Since I was younger with this was going on, it didn't really stick with me. My brother was exposed to it much longer and developed a serious entitlement issue which eventually led him to steal both money and property from my grandparents and parents.
    After my grandpa died, we moved to a different house which was just a 5 bedroom house (mom and dad, 4 kids, & grandma, so quite a few people) where personal space was not quite so easy to come by. At this point there were a lot of conflicts between my mom and grandma because my grandma felt that she had lost a lot of her independence. She could no longer do her own grocery shopping or keep foods around that she likes. Having 4 kids between 5 and 21 in the house meant that everyone pretty much just raided the cabinets for everything whenever they wanted and so food would disappear quickly.

    I would say that if everyone has their own space, and there are very clear boundaries that are set, it's a good idea. It's also important to recognize that living arrangements, needs, and worries will change throughout the stages of life. I would strongly recommend that you think very far into the future, thoroughly analyze any worries you have, and also remember to be flexible and recognize that the plan may need to change if it's not working how you had imagined.

    Hope this helps!

    3 agree
    • Thank you for sharing! Space, independence, and boundaries seem to be the biggest concerns for my mother. Which totally makes sense, she's spent about 20 years of her life being a parent to kids/teens and wants to have more time for herself.

  40. I haven't done it, and I wouldn't. My mum is pretty full on, and I find her a bit exhausting to be around. I don't particularly get on with her partner, so that wouldn't be good. My partner would definitely not be okay with it either. I prefer to live indepdently, and I imagine that I always will

  41. I know that my mother has set up elaborate low term care insurance and has managed to get it so she could pay me or my brother to care for her, which is pretty difficult to do. She does have a big house in a fun part of town, but I have my own smaller house about 20 minutes away and am planning to start trying to have children this summer.

    Our relationship is fairly solid, but I don't know if I could handle being her caretaker or living with her. Right now, her health seems to be ok. I don't know exactly what I would do if it started deteriorating, sometimes I feel like she assumes I will care for her even though we haven't talked about it in depth. Having seen other relatives go through severe dementia and Alzheimer's disease, I just don't know if I would have the energy to care for her and my hypothetical children.

    As others have commented, I would consider all possibilities and look at stuff really long term. I think it would be worthwhile to talk to an insurance person about long term care insurance, for instance, Medicare does not cover most nursing home situations and it is expensive without insurance.

    I commend you and everyone else who is able to make this work, I just think that my mother and I would have a hard time with it. Our relationship is pretty solid, but complicated. Best of luck, and I think this type of living will become more common in the future.

    3 agree
  42. my mom has recently mentioned in orange county, southern california developers are starting to build more houses for multigenerational use- they have separate entrances and kitchens/living rooms– but they keep the family close together while allowing people their needed space for privacy and entertaining

  43. Ooooo this is such an interesting question for me!

    My husband and I are about to break ground on our 'house'. We're building an addition onto his mother's house for a sort-of reverse-in-law-apartment. We are building our own living space, kitchen, dining area, bedroom, bathroom, and pantry. Once it is finished, we will be living with my mother-in-law and her partner. Eventually, our children will live there too.

    I'm glad we'll have two kitchens and two living spaces, though I'm sure it's not necessary for everyone.

    1 agrees
  44. I grew up in a multi-generational home. My grandparents bought a long, single story house on a large lot. It had six bedrooms (two of which we combined into one larger room), two living rooms, two bathrooms, and a single laundry room, kitchen, and garage. It looked something like this:

    [ Garage ][ BR ][ Living ][ Kitchen ][ LA ][ BR ][ Lrg. Bed ]
    [ Bed ][ Bed ][ Living ][ Kitchen ][ Living 2 ][ Bed ][ Bed ]

    My grandparents and uncle slept down by the garage while my mom, sister, and I had the other 'wing.' There was some swapping over the years and at one time we had nine people under the same roof, plus pets, but this was the general idea. As far as privacy and space goes, it worked out pretty well because all the common areas were in the middle of the house. I think growing up in this environment benefited my sister and me for a variety of reasons.

    1) My grandparents raised their kids on a farm in Ohio, just like they were raised, so they brought the ideas of pooling family or community resources and providing for those in need with them down to Texas as just a natural part of life. To this day, I feel very blessed to have the space to provide for any of my family or friends if they need it. We may only have a one-bedroom apartment in the middle of the city, but it's a safe place with food, tea, a comfy couch, and a listening ear day or night. Having that "no brainer" attitude about providing a roof, ride, shower, or meal to someone who needs it, no matter how little we have, has changed and saved lives.

    2) My mom was a nurse, which gave her the know-how to care for aging parents, but also meant she worked a lot of long, odd, physically demanding hours as well as every holiday. She had the freedom to work the hours she needed to financially provide for us without having to worry about providing all of our daily care. No matter what we needed or what time of day it was, someone was always home to care for us.

    3) I can't pick out an '80-'90s boy band member to save my life, but I have an appreciation for art, movies, and music well beyond my years. I grew up being exposed to the culture of everyone around me on a daily basis. My grandparents brought a wealth of knowledge from growing up post-depression and working during war times. My uncle is a graphic artist and world musician with a love of animation and obscure instruments. My mom only turned up the radio for Beethoven or Elvis, loved black and white film, and low-budget BBC. The cultural traditions of my grandparent's grandparents were more than stories told to me a few times a year. Now I feel like I'm helping to preserve that oral tradition, that I have a deeper understanding of the history that's being lost.

    Today, the remaining members of my blood family have scattered, but my family-of-intention is starting to raise their own children in a village-like environment. I see a marked difference in the cognitive development and social skills of these children (raised with a wider definition of family and many hands helping every day) to those of my friends who are raising children on their own. This may have been the same difference that my teachers saw in me and my sister that always had them remarking about us being especially kind and gifted. I think that modeling healthy adult relationships (negotiation, non-romantic affection, shared guardianship and stewardship, etc) are vital for any child. It's just that much easier to accomplish in a shared household.

    1 agrees
  45. When my Mom was a kid, her paternal grandparents lived with them. It did not work well as my grandmother did not get along with her in-laws. My mom's family had the kitchen and the upstairs, and her grandparents had the sitting room, and another room, which had a stove in it that they used for cooking.

    As a result of this experience, my Mom is adamant that she does not want to live with any of her children. Her opinion was further cemented when my grandmother lived with my uncle and his wife, and Grandma and my aunt did not get along.

    Everybody's family is different of course. In the community my dad grew up in, the "Doddy House" is a common feature. It's a little house next to the main house where the grandparents live. http://www.thirdway.com/menno/glossary.asp?ID=29

    For most people something like an in law suite would probably be more practical, though.

    1 agrees
  46. My husband and I just made the move to a permanent multi-generational situation at the beginning of the month –we're sharing the house with my Mother-In-Law. Although we are new to the situation we definitely thought about it for a long time. Ultimately we decided to go for it because it fit our values as a couple. My husband is a sailor and we found ourselves spending his entire vacation with our family instead of spending it in our own home. In addition it was important for us to support his mom and take care of the property that will one day be willed to him. We finally decided to go for it, despite the worried/ quizzical reactions from other people because it consistently rose to the top as the best way to support all of our needs/ wants. This way, we can support my MIL without splitting our money to two different households, Grandma will be there when we decide to have kids and currently it gives us a sense of permanence that we otherwise wouldn't have with my husband's job.

    So far everything is going great –my little dog now has an older generation dog to play with and a plethora of laps/beds to choose from, my mother-in law is eating healthier and smiling more often and my husband and I finally (after years of transitional housing) have a home that we can grow roots in. I couldn't be happier. I hope that you and your new multi-generational household find joy in your arrangement. 🙂

    1 agrees
  47. When I was 3, my parents bought my grandma's house from her. It was a fairly large house and she was living alone and was not able to keep it in good repair. My dad is a carpenter. He converted the existing garage into a granny flat. This gave my grandma her privacy. She had her own kitchen, living room, bedroom, and bathroom. It was small, but that was good for her because she couldn't walk well.

    She also could not drive, so having my mom right there to take her to appointments was very helpful. As we got older, my brother and I helped a lot with chores for my grandma. There were times when we all got irritated with each other, like any family. My grandma was a hoarder, and we had a lot of fights about getting rid of old newspapers and things. Overall though, I loved having my grandma there all the time. She passed away two years ago, and I miss her very much.

    1 agrees
  48. This is something that we want to do with my husband's grandma, but with the extended family dynamics/politics, it hasn't happened yet. She'd love to live with us and has successfully done so in the past, but the current situation is working best for everyone. Our eldest daughter has also expressed an interest in living and working with us when she's an adult, but we'll see how she feels when she gets there. (We want to have a farm by then, and she's looking forward to it even though its hard work)

    1 agrees
  49. My husband and I have lived with his family in a semi-detached Victorian house on and off for the last 16 months. We've spent the last 6 months in our own place, but due to the incredible cost of living in London and his return to school in September, we're moving back in again next month. Here's how we stay sane living with his parents, teenage brother, and assortment of family pets:

    1) Establish our own space. We will have two rooms upstairs that are ours and ours alone. There will be no cats, no dog, no brother, and no parents in those rooms unless expressly invited. We will be repainting the rooms and getting our own furniture in there to make the space very much our space and designed to use as we need it (bedroom and office space).

    2) Establish house rules ahead of time. There is only one bathroom and only one kitchen. We're going to need to figure out some logistics ahead of time to make sure everything runs smoothly. We will have a master schedule so everyone knows who is in and who is out at various times and to keep us all from annoying the crap out of each other by getting in the way. Obviously showering is an issue. A shower/bath schedule will keep us from killing one another. You miss your slot, your problem. I will also likely take to showering at the gym a lot ;).

    3) Take frequent time outs from each other's presence. We're going to stick a TV with our own cable connection upstairs so that we can have space in the evenings when we need it. It's lovely to spend time with his family, but sometimes we just want to chill in our own room with our own shows on. Paying a little extra to get a cable box in a second room is totally worth it for that peace of mind. Five grown humans fighting over a remote is no fun.

    4) Make a point of having a conflict resolution plan. When you're integrating into someone's family unit, you walk right into a mountain of pre-existing drama and baggage. That includes a pattern for dealing with conflict that isn't always the best ever. We're changing the pattern by going in with a new policy: No shouting, no name-calling, no swearing. If any of these things happens, we leave the room. Conflict happens, but there's no need for it to get messy. Breaking years of bad habits takes time, but talking about those habits and changing them up front makes it a lot easier to fix them. We also have a contract in place to help with that.

    5) Establish up front who pays for what and how much. We won't be paying rent per se, but we will be contributing to costs like food, cable, heat, and electricity. Also to improvements on our rooms (new windows, new flooring, etc) to make them more habitable. We've hammered it out on paper so that there's no confusion or back-pedalling later on. This makes life a lot easier when the inevitable "but you're in school and not working so I need you to do x for me" argument arises. Which leads me to my last one…

    6) Establish who does what and when ahead of time. Who takes the teenager to school in the morning? Who handles sending out the ironing and dry cleaning? Who takes out the recycling and garbage? Who does the grocery run? These are important things to settle, and if one of you is in school or working from home, you need to make sure you're not getting saddled with all the stuff other people don't want to do simply because you're home more. It may sound fair at first, but trust me, it eats into your time like you wouldn't believe. Get it hashed out on paper ahead of time and refer back to it if necessary.

    Living with my in-laws isn't the easiest thing ever, but it's a lot easier when we're all on the same page and communicating well. Also when we're all busy. Communicate often, early, and in depth and you should avoid most serious problems. Someone will always leave hair in the drain and someone will always forget to move their laundry in a timely fashion, but that's life. As long as you can let go of the little stuff and talk about the big stuff, it works out.

    3 agree
  50. I grew up in what's now called a multi-generational household. To us, it just seemed normal that family all lived together. I had, when I was very young, great-great grandparents, great-grandparents, grandparents, parents and my sister and I all living on the same property. I had no idea what a babysitter was, but I learned stories about my ancestors, how to care for the garden, what I could forage for in the woods, and how to buck hay bales. We lived, and died, together as a family. If you can leave the drama behind, and always remember that family comes first, by all means, live together. You will have less privacy in the bathroom, but more far more love.

    3 agree
  51. Granted it probably won't be indefinitely, but my boyfriend and I have been living with his parents for a few months now. I agree with what others have said about designating sections of the house for each group, or generally just making sure to allocate enough personal space for everyone. We share the kitchen and living rooms, and then his parents are in one end on the first floor plus an office in the basement and we have a two-room suite on the second floor by the guest room which we sometimes spill into when it's unoccupied (the guest bathroom is where I shower and keep all my hair and make-up stuff). It's not particularly child proof, and besides our career paths require us to relocate eventually anyway, so it certainly won't be a long-term situation, but for as long as it lasts its very comfortable for everyone!

  52. Living with your mom? Awesome. Living with your mom and your husband and your child? Not so awesome. That's the situation I'm in now. My husband and I have enough money to live on our own but we're just too lazy to get the process started. Most of the time it's not an issue because my mother is an amazing, kind, wonderful woman. When it does become an issue, however, is when my husband and I are having an argument or when we're disciplining our son. My mother doesn't intervene in these situations but I can tell that they make her uncomfortable and that makes me feel really bad.

    I think you should really think about those situations and figure out if you're ok with having a shouting match with your husband in front of your sweet old mother. How about yelling at your 16 year old son when he comes home past curfew? Are you ok with putting your mother in the middle of those situations?

    Also, you say that the house would "hopefully" make it to your children. If you're buying a house with your mother you better make damn SURE that your children will get it once you and your mother are gone.

    • I say hopefully because I'm familiar with some people, of another culture, who bought large homes and wanted to live in it with their children yet the kids didn't want it! So as much as I might trumpet the virtues of a family estate there's no point in forcing an adult child of mine to live THEIR life by MY choices.

      1 agrees
      • Obviously they don't have to live in the house if they don't want to, I was just saying that if you paid for the house it should go to them once you're gone and they can do what they please with it. Live in it, sell it, rent it out, whatever.

  53. I think seven years could count as "permanent" for the purposes of the question. My folks bought a house with finished basement that had several very large rooms and was wired and piped so that it could be easily converted to an "in-law suite". We were teenagers at the time, but my folks had seen their friends children all move in and out several times before getting really established so they figured it was good investment. It definitely was!

    At one point all four of us kids and my daughter and my sister's husband were living here at the same time. My daughter and I have lived her continuously since before she was born, so she's grown up with some combination of her extended family living in the same house at all times. It has been awesome to raise a kid this way: at our weekly family sit-down meals when she was little she crawled into one lap after another until she fell asleep in one (and picked the best bits off of everyone's plate, which we all had sort of mixed feelings about).

    She's grown up with a good understanding of privacy (there was a firm "knock-first" rule in place) and a sense of a belonging and family community. When she was really little I always had someone to watch her while I jumped in the shower.

    HOWEVER I don't think this works unless you have a good relationship with the family you'll be living with, open communication, and some ground rules. It's really important that if you are moving in with a parent and have kids that they can relate to you as an adult friend, not just their kid, and can respect any parenting differences.

    It's also important that you can relate to them as an adult friend, not just your parent, and can be open to suggestions as if they came from any other veteran of the parenting trenches, and can accept that they may do things a little differently if/when they are watching your children. You have to be able to talk about that stuff and everyone has to be willing to make room for other's needs.

  54. Growing up, my best friend lived in a multi-generational household, where her grandparents (who were immigrants from the phillipines) had settled and raised her mom who had then raised my friend and her sister in that house where their grandparents were still living. I don't know the specifics, but it seemed to work out fine for them. It definitely made it easier on my friend's parents, who wouldn't have been able to afford the house otherwise, and it definitely resulted in them being a very close family.

  55. I am living in a co-housing situation with my in-laws and fiancé. My fiancé added on to his parents house a few years ago and moved back in in order to take care of them. He took care of the mortgage and never intends on moving, so when we first started dating, I did so knowing that if we were to end up becoming serious, that would mean living with him and his parents. So when the time came that we discussed the possibility of me moving in, we sat down not just him and I, but also with his parents to make sure they were okay with it. It worked well for us, because we have our own separate entrance and essentially our own living area on the one side of the house. We share the kitchen, backyard, and other main spaces, but we all have our own separate areas to retire, which allow us our privacy. While it has its challenges in all of us living together, the benefits out weigh those challenges, I think it is all about figuring out what works for you and your family. Now that we are getting married, we intend to later bring children into our home, which will add it's own level of challenges, but also it means that our children will have their grandparents right there to see regularly. Family is important to both of us and because of the care he has shown for his parents, I know that as my own parents age and need more care, that we will be able to care for them in the way that I would hope, without it being a hardship to agree on.

  56. My husband and I currently live with my mom and brother. We're relatively newlyweds. My family and I have always had a really good relationship, however, this has been pretty trying on our relationship. Mostly it's that boundaries are either not established or have been crossed. They like to give input on things that should stay between my husband and me sometimes. It's a huge learning experience for all of us, but I think that it's worth it for all of us. It's very helpful financially as well. So long as you can draw boundaries and are able to have some time and space to yourselves occasionally, you should do just fine. Best wishes!

  57. We are in the process of buying a multi-generational home with my in-laws- and I love them, I am not worried about the actual event at all. I can admit though that house hunting is exhausting. We have 4 kids so we constitute 6 ppl and they are 2, there are also a small zoo. The worst part has been gauging expectations. I am up against a woman who often wants to outdo the unknown Jones's and that is exhausting also. I could care less. I came from money and it was miserable, the wall to wall white carpeting doesn't keep it's self clean and I can't afford help. A beautiful expensive house does not a happy family make. HOA measuring the grass and the bushes – I definitely wont be able to have chickens if she has her way. I research every aspect of the possible location, the price is only the beginning, the amenities are important because of the children, the laid-backness/personal responsible ratio of the neighborhood is important also- I like to see bikes and basketball hoops and kids, but I like to see mowed lawns and moderately kept bushes and driveways. I NEED to be able to access public transit becasue we are working and finishing school. Middle class is perfect- snobby high class is unnecessary. Ive been there and done that, it is NOT worth half a million dollars. She wants the facade and I want the real situation, I don't care if it comes with pink shag carpeting because it is 50K less and we are goign to be paying this off until we are too old to manage. I get it and I feel for her, she wants the princess package, this is the last house they will buy ( with us) and that is why it is important to live somewhere livable and enjoyable for the kids. This process has worn me down to the nub. Searching and compiling info until 3 am and having her say- what do you think? But finally realizing that the only house she has any concrete info on is the one that we can't afford in the most un-accessible part of town. I feel frustrated. She approached this idea by offering to do this instead of give us inheritance, but it isn't a gift at all because we are going to be basement dwellers, we aren't even really part of the family in this place she has decided on. So we are stuck even if it is completely inappropriate when we get there. Stuck by proxy of our "gift." I love them so much I hate being disagreeable, I am starting to feel really disagreeable now that we have to choose soon and I know the choice isn't ours and it most likely wont reflect our needs or our financial situation. If anything happened we would be bankrupt. I wish I could convince her that you can change looks, but you can't change livability – really a dream is something you make not something that comes prepackage at 50K but at 50K we won't be able to afford to make anything should it be lacking in anyway. I have been so honest and strait forward and it just goes in one ear and out the other. I am so tired all of the time since this adventure- turned fiasco began. Cant wait to get through this part.

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