Another fresh batch of college graduates are tossing their caps in the air. While I’m sure all of them are thrilled to toss out their books and be done with finals, it’s hard to say how many are actually excited about entering the work force. It’s competitive out there, and graduating with a job offer in hand isn’t guaranteed anymore. My babysitter is a perfect example. She’s graduating this week with zero job offers and a big question mark hovering in her future. She’s from LA and could easily move back in with her parents while she tries to find a job, but she’s trying to keep that as plan B for now. Instead, she’s determined to stay in SF where her friends are and plans to continue working for us (phew!) while she prepares to take the GMATs and apply for grad school.
But besides the college to “real world” transition, there are other times when you may be faced with a decision to move back in with your parents. Perhaps you simply miss your home town, got laid off and are having trouble finding a new job, need help with child care, or one of both of your parents is ill and needs extra care. It’s usually not an easy decision to move back home, but it’s one we’ll all probably face at least once in our lives.
Moving Back In Together
I don’t have any plans to move back in with my parents in the foreseeable future, but there’s a possibility we might move in with my in-laws temporarily a few years from now if we decide to relocate. Any type of move can be stressful and time consuming, even if it’s just moving from one end of a street to the other, so I imagine we will have our hands full if we go from living together as a family of three to moving into a multigenerational household in an entirely different state. Even if it’s temporary, there’s a lot of logistics and “stuff” with a toddler in tow!
Multigenerational homes are becoming more and more common now though as families are on tighter budgets, the cost of education and healthcare keeps rising, and millions still struggle to find stable employment. Sure there are benefits and cost savings of having a multigenerational household, but it’s not for everyone. It’s hardest on those who favor lifestyles with lots of freedom and privacy.
Here are some pros and cons to consider if you’re contemplating moving back in with your parents:
- Cost savings, especially if you’re leaving an expensive coastal city like SF or NY.
- More support emotionally. Can help with loneliness for you and your parents.
- Build stronger relationships with your parents.
- Saves time not having to travel back and forth if your parents need care.
- If you have kids and your parents are able, they can help with in home day care.
- Less privacy for sure, which can be really tough.
- More pressure on the income earners to provide.
- Personality conflicts can get hairy.
- Clashes with habits and behaviors.
- Reduced alone time.
- Feeling like a permanent guest/host
- Relocating could negatively impact your work or job search.
Did you know that in 2016, 20% of the U.S. population (64 million people), lived in a multigenerational home according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data? Check out this graph.
If you’re serious about moving back home with your parents or in-laws, here are some questions to think about and discuss with your family before making a decision.
Things To Think About And Discuss
- Will this be a short term, long term, or permanent move?
- Is the house big enough for all of us?
- Will there be rules, roles, boundaries? How will they be decided and moderated?
- Will we hold family meetings? How often?
- Who sleeps where? Who uses which bathroom?
- Are any rooms off limits to certain people?
- What items will/will not be shared?
- How will we avoid resentment and resolve conflicts?
- How do we make sure everyone gets enough alone time?
- How much will this cost/save? Who decides the budget?
- How will expenses be handled? Who pays for what?
- How will siblings and family members living elsewhere contribute?
- Do we need to have fewer/more cars?
- How will day care responsibilities be handled, shared?
- How will chores be divided? Who is responsible for what?
- Who does the cooking? Grocery shopping? Errands?
- Is everything in the fridge up for grabs?
- Will meals be eaten separately, together, or both? When?
- Will vacations be taken as a group, separately, both?
- What guidelines should there be for inviting guests?
- How will we prepare emotionally, financially, logistically?
- How will we manage each other’s expectations?
Treasure, Torture, And A Bit Of Both
I have several friends who are living in multigenerational households already, and they each have their own highs and lows. One simply adores his mother in-law and loves having her live with him and his wife, another tries to hide her unhappiness living with her in-laws by limiting the amount of time she spends at home, a third enjoys the time he gets to share with his father and his own kids but feels constant pressure being the only income earner in a home of six, and a fourth doesn’t mind living with his in-laws because they help take care of their 2 kids and don’t speak English so his wife has to do all the communicating.
Every family situation is different and some people are a lot easier to live with than others! Definitely get prepared and think things through before making this big of a decision. Tension can build up quickly if you don’t communicate openly. Remember it’s not just you who will be affected – everyone in the household will be too!
Untemplaters, I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences! Do you think a multigenerational household is in your future? What are your biggest fears, concerns, comforts, and reassurances?