Many adults with living parents will one day face a complicated situation. They may find themselves saying, “My parents want to move in with me for financial reasons,” and trying to figure out whether it’s a smart move. After all, bringing your parents under your roof could be tricky.
Even with about 79 million adults living in shared households – where at least one “extra” adult isn’t the head of household, romantically involved with the head of household, or an 18- to 24-year-old student – that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t automatically say “yes” to your parents moving into your home. Here’s how you can figure out which choice is best.
The State of Your Relationship
First, you need to consider your (and, if applicable, your spouse’s and children’s) relationship with your parents. If it’s strong, then joint living arrangements could be incredibly pleasant, if not fun. You’d automatically get to spend more time together, and that might be particularly meaningful.
However, if your relationship is contentious, then you could be inviting strife into your home. This is especially true since your parents moving in with you flips the traditional paradigm. It’s your roof, not theirs. If your parents would have issues following any household rules, then a tough situation could get harder quickly.
The Availability of Space
If your parents move in, they’ll need their own space. Asking your mom or dad to crash on the couch probably isn’t going to work. Instead, they’ll likely require their own room, at a minimum, if not a separate bathroom as well.
Additionally, they may have additional requirements. For example, if either parent has mobility issues, you might need to remodel a bathroom for safety reasons. Similarly, if they use a wheelchair or walker, you may have to evaluate the space in hallways, between kitchen counters, and more to make sure they can get around with ease. If not, then you might have to consider more renovations.
Otherwise, if your space is insufficient, your alternative is to move to a new home before letting your parents come to stay. This is potentially very complex to handle, especially if there are some specific needs, like minimum hallway widths, non-standard counter heights, or other accessibility requirements.
If the right kind of space isn’t available or would be too expensive to create, then letting your parents move in might not even be a legitimate option. That’s why it’s important to consider this as soon as possible.
The Financial Aspects
If your parents want to move in for financial reasons, then you need to examine this angle carefully. In situations where your parents’ income is falling short of their needs, reviewing their finances could be a critical part of the decision-making process.
At times, you may discover that reducing their housing expenses is enough to make their budget feasible. When that occurs, moving in with you for financial reasons may work. They can handle their other obligations and potentially chip in toward shared household costs.
In fact, you may financially benefit from the arrangement, which is worth considering. Plus, they may be able to reduce certain other costs, like childcare for your children.
However, moving in with you could mean that you’ll have to pick up the slack if they still have shortfalls. If all they can do is handle their bills, but they can’t contribute to shared household expenses, you could find yourself spending more every month. After all, utility and food bills rise when there are more people living in the same space.
If your parents want to move in with you, sit down with them, and discuss the full financial picture. If they aren’t willing to do that, that could be a warning sign of an issue. But, even if they are open to talking about it, that doesn’t mean that it’s great news. Listen to what they can and can’t shoulder, estimate what that will mean for you, and then decide if them moving in is financially plausible.
Ultimately, making the decision isn’t easy. However, you have to consider what’s best for you, not just what your parents think will work for them. That way, you don’t put yourself in a poor financial situation.
Reflect on the points above and decide what’s practical and reasonable. By doing so, you can make a decision that’s best for everyone involved.
Do you think it is wise to move your parents in with you? Is it only a smart choice under certain circumstances? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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Tamila McDonald is a U.S. Army veteran with 20 years of service, including five years as a military financial advisor. After retiring from the Army, she spent eight years as an AFCPE-certified personal financial advisor for wounded warriors and their families. Now she writes about personal finance and benefits programs for numerous financial websites.