Question: We are moving in with our children to help both generations financially. The living areas share a wall and a doorway. Privacy is a concern for us. Have you seen families who have succeeded sharing a home together?
Answer: Yes. Many of my clients find themselves either building onto their children’s homes, or sharing multi family living space. Multi generational living is on the rise. The AARP reports over 16% of the total US population contains two adult generations, compared to 12% in 1980. Some do it better than others.
Commonly, families will agree to monthly conferences to address cohabitation concerns, such as privacy, noise, maintenance and the ever important: baby-sitting obligation. Most children, with whom I meet, froth at the mouth at the prospect of living with a babysitter next door. The excitement in their eyes reveals their intention to saddle their parents or in-laws with the kiddos every weekend evening. Of course, the grandparents expect things to be different.
Without a hard set of rules, pre-negotiated and discussed, families will experience strife, and hard feelings. Set the expectations properly, and neither generation will be disappointed.
Written contracts are available to formalize your agreement. This may seem crazy, but remember: contracts represent an acceptable set of rules for both sides, in the event of a breakdown in the relationship. While, I have not seen families sue for breach of such agreements, at least you will be able to refer to your written agreements in times of trouble, or if a death among the family changes the dynamic of your interaction.