With the housing bubble and the financial uncertainty of our country’s future many Americans have once again started living with their extended family. There are certainly times when living with your extended family can help your financial life; lower bills, an alternative to expensive childcare and the possibility to save money. However, it is also important to consider the cons that living with your extended family may bring; resentment, differences in lifestyle choices and too much disposable income.
While my wife and I have not lived with our extended family as adults, we have both experienced it as children. I’ve also asked friends and family who are currently living with members of their extended family the pros and cons that come with this living arrangement. Through these discussions and experiences I have learned a few of the pros and cons associated with living with your extended family.
The Pros of Living With Your Extended Family
One of the biggest benefits of living with your extended family is that you have a support network to help you out when times are tough. This can be especially beneficial if you have small children. For example, living with a retired grandparent or family member who works opposite shifts as you could help tremendously when a child is sick or if you find yourself in need of a babysitter. If you find yourself in need of completing a task there are extra hands and eyes to watch over and keep the children company.
Other benefits of living with extended family are financial in nature. Your mortgage/rent can be divided by more people, thus reducing your monthly payment. By having a lower monthly payment you may have the ability to save more or put more money towards debt repayment. Another option is that you can buy/rent a house in a more costly neighborhood. By doing this you may have access to better schools and amenities that you otherwise would not be able to afford on your own.
Bringing Family Closer
There are times when it can be difficult to find the time to get together with families. Christmas, birthdays and other holidays may be the only time some families are able gather. However, when you live with your extended family, you have a chance to see your family everyday. Young members of the family gain the opportunity to learn from their elders. At the same time, grandparents, aunts and uncles have the opportunity to bond with their grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
The Cons of Living With Your Extended Family
Loss of Independence
If you find yourself living with family members with children you may find yourself babysitting. While it may not seem like much of an inconvenience at first, over time you may find that it is expected rather than requested. This can grow into resentment and can cause tension in relationships.
Another way you may lose your independence is if you move into an extended family member’s house. When moving into someone’s house, you may find yourself having to follow their rules. If their rules do not coincide with your lifestyle, you may find yourself in a situation where one of the family members begins to resent the other.
From my own personal experience, too much of a disposable income can be dangerous to your personal finances. There are times when a parent or child will allow a family member(s) to move into their house completely bill free with the expectation that the family member(s) will save money to buy a house or pay down debt. However, sometimes the family member(s) ends up not behaving financially responsible and instead finds themselves with a large disposable income. In the end, the family member who was supposed to save money ends up with more stuff than they had with nothing saved up/paid down.
Have a Gameplan
If you are considering the possibility of living with your extended family sit down and carefully think through the pros and cons. Ask yourself why you want to enter this situation. If it’s for one party to save money, then sit down and setup a system so that the goal is achieved. Also, make sure there are boundaries. If your children and grandchildren are moving in make sure they know what is to be expected. If you don’t want to become a live in nanny then ground rules need to be setup. It’s important to have these rules in place before you move in together because if you wait until afterwards, you may find that the situation won’t work.
Have you ever found yourself living with your extended family? What pros/cons did you find?
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