Is living with family to save for a house a good idea?

Roxbourgh_apt2December 21, 2002

I am recently married and my husband and I pay about $600. a month in rent. We could save over $6,000. in a year if we did not have to pay rent. That would would be a modest down payment on a townhome or small row home in the Philadelphia area. On the suggestion of my mother I have been thinking about asking my elderly grandparents if we could move in for 6 months to a year to save for a house. In exchange we would run their errands and assist them around the house. (of couse we would pay a portion of the utilities and cook and buy groceries) My grand father is

very sickly and can no longer drive and my grandmother's vision is to poor to drive. This has kept my grand parents in the house and at the mercy of family to bring them groceries and other things. I think we could be a great help to them and they have plenty of room in their house.

The only problem is knowing where to draw the line with helping them out. I don't want to turn into their on call errand girl and my grandmother does have a habit of taking advantage of people kindness. She likes to act more helpless than she really is for the attention. I work full time and go to school and so does my husband. Our free time is limited and I just want to make sure we have time for the two of us because I believe that is important in a young marraige. Is moving in with my grandparents a good idea or should I try to save while renting?

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I think you should make up a time table for what hours you are available to run errands, and how many hours a week total you can commit to do this. Work it out with the grandparents so the times are good for both of you. This will help your grandparents get organized so that you can accomplish all they need within the allotted time frame. Also keeps you from being at their beck and call all the time. And frees you up to be with DH. Planned well, I think it can work.

BTW, time together is important in old marriages too.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2002 at 3:32PM
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There are a few other things to consider besides errand schedules before you decide to move in with family...

You said you were recently married, so how do I put this delicately...How will you work out sleeping arrangements?---Will it bother your grandparents or you and your husband if the bedrooms are near each other. Will your work/school schedule cause problems with how they usually run their day (for example...they may be trying to sleep in during the morning while you will be making noise in the kitchen and bathroom getting ready for work).

Would they be bothered if you had your friends over? Is there a place in their home to go if you and your husband want to have time alone to discuss things, argue, watch TV, or whatever?

A personal story here...My husband and I were invited to stay at a friend's grandmothers house for ONE WEEKEND with a few other couples and it was quite an experience. The grandmother got up at 5am and started clanging pans around in the kitchen (she was just organizing them --not cooking). Also, she never discussed any of her "house rules" with any of the young couples --so we found out later on that she was upset that people were using "her" shower. These are the types of things you'll have to consider.

You mentioned that your grandfather was sickly ---have you ever been a caregiver for someone who has been sick or lived with someone who has a chronic sickness? It usually becomes a 24 hour job. People who are chronically sick do not always act like themselves. (Even though you may not expect to be a "caregiver" to your grandfather, you may become one because you will be the closest person at hand to "help").

I'm asking these types of questions because everyone I know who has tried to move back in with "family" has had issues after a little while and ended up moving back out (or was asked to leave).

I would just want you to consider all the possible problems before you move.

    Bookmark   December 22, 2002 at 11:26PM
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After reading your post instead of going into detail, let me just get to the bottom line - If you do, I think you will regret it.

    Bookmark   December 23, 2002 at 2:38PM
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Speculation is sketchy by definition. This could be well worth your while or it could backfire and be a complete nightmare. Carefully weigh the options before you committ to moving in w/family. You don't want to get "stuck" in an uncomfortable situation. All the best.


    Bookmark   December 23, 2002 at 3:07PM
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Just by glancing through these posts I would say you will probably regret it. How long have you been married? You're still in school, a new marriage - give things time and they will come. I know, that's probably not what you wanted to hear. But right now you are young (I assume), you have enough debt probably just by going to college, and you're working full time. Maybe you should look for a place further outside of the city, since Phila and the surrounding areas (like Bucks Co.) can be extremely expensive. Can you commute? Stop in on days off/weekends, etc. to look in on your grandparents? Just based on what you say, I think you will feel like you're tethered to them and the house if you do this. And you will basically have no privacy as a newly married couple, trust me. My DH and I live in a dormitory with teenaged boys, and with people here all the time, there is little to no "real" privacy, if you get my drift. $600 a month in Phila doesn't sound bad at all. Do you go to Temple?

Anyway, I'm sure you love your grandparents as much as I love mine, for instance; and because I love them so much, I know we could never live together. I lived with my inlaws when I first moved to Eastern PA and while it allowed me to save money, I was basically miserable and felt like I couldn't go anywhere without being asked 20 questions. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   December 24, 2002 at 7:19AM
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There is no free lunch. It will be possible to save, maybe (depending on any unexpected expenses in that time); probably.

If you are going to go, and intend to have cargiving, and housekeeping duties and 'support to independent living' duties; those are serious committments.

People who have very poor vision, and who have been functioning as primary caregiver for someone else are likely to need help. They won't just need practical help like groceries, or other 'standard' things. They will also need other adults to talk to and socialize with, and it would be helpful and healthful for them to be able to get outside the house-- for walks and things every single day. They might need your companionship to do that, your actual presence on those walks and outings. If all they have had, on a regular basis is a caregiving duty to their spouse who is ill, they are going to have a real need for normal companionship, friendship-- or other interactions with people.

It's important to keep all that in mind because those needs can be viewed as 'taking a mile' or 'taking advantage' when all that the giver inteneded to give was some material or practical, tangible aid. People who are desperate for meaningful human interaction will need attention-- and they won't care about such subtleties as 'good' or 'bad' attention.

You will have your work cut out for you, but it is probably a decent way to help everyone out. The key is to be aware of the potential intangible needs your grandparents may have. And, to be proactive with communication. Figure out in advance for yourself, what you will not be able to do; and how you will keep on top of backing up in case you do find yourself being overextended. There are home-healthcare and social workers who are available to help with all kinds of home-based tasks for people who cannot get out and about for themselves-- or who just need a little help. There is also home nursing, and all kinds of different therapies in case that kind of support is needed or would be beneficial for your grandfather. The thing is, people are doing their best usually-- even your grandmother, and even if it seems like she is deliberately taking advantage. The trick is to view her needs or requests, stated or unstated as a reflection of her attempts to get her needs met; and as nothing to do with you really. Free yourself up to work with her as a human being, who might or might not communicate well.

As to whether it's a good idea to move in with them in order to save, that requires self-reflection. If you have personal strengths in terms of being able to both care for other adults, and foster their independence; and if you like and have done well in situations with other adult housemates; then you'll probably be fine. Known weaknesses in those areas are very likely to cause big upsetting problems (upsetting for you and for everyone else). It will be a challenge, and won't just be a convenient easy way to save money. If the thought of this kind of challenge feels and seems exhillerating, that might be a plus. If it seems more like a nightmare waiting to happen, it might be better to save money and not move in with them.

P.S. Sometimes people are very well-meaning within families. If it seems like elderly relatives need live-in support people, they might indeed. Or, they might need a lot more support from other family members; or a more supportive living situation. Anyway, sometimes there can be an initial kind of attempt to set up support without really understanding just how much support is really needed-- on a day to day, 24 hour basis. This may or may not be the case with your grandparents, but it might be a good idea to try to get an objective assessment from a third party about whether they need more a more supported living situation.

    Bookmark   December 25, 2002 at 1:14PM
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Thank you to all the people who have responded to my question. I guess my DH and I should start eating less take-out and get on a tighter budget. After spending Christmas cooking dinner for my grandparents I saw that we would be in for a lot of work. Although my heart breaks to see how my grandparents have broken down. My grandfather tried to "help" and put the chicken in the oven and fell beacuse it was to heavy. (It was a 5 pound chicken) My moving in with them may not be a solutuion to my problems, but they need different living accomodations. I wish they would consider moving to a senior housing development.

Anyway thanks for all your heartfelt and very insightful advice.

    Bookmark   December 27, 2002 at 12:08PM
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I was in the same boat when we first got married. We had been living together in an awesome apartment in Bucks County. In and around the same time my grandfather's health was failing.
We were going to move in with him in June, however, I soon found out that I was pregnant. It was a bad preagnancy so I was un able to make the move.
On the same account, we needed to move for the extra space. A 2 bedroom apartment in the same complex would have run us $600 a month...way more than we could afford!!
So my brother suggested seeing a realtor and just explaine our situation. Turns out, if your a first time buyer, you may be able to get an FHA loan, which means no down payment. The only catch is finding a home which os FHA approved. Being FHA approved means the home has to measure u[p to the highest fixer uppers.
We were lucky to have found our house on the second day of looking and we ended up paying over $100 less that our 1 bedroom apartment!!
My cousin looked after my Grandfather until he passed away just before my DD was born.
That was 14 years ago and things have gotten better for us finacially, we were able to make double payments and our home will be paid for in 2 more years.
Then we will sell it and move out of the city.
Hey, if you can hold out,,,you can buy it!! LOL
Anyhow, there are 3 houses on my block for sale in the mid 40's.
If your interested, please e mail me and I'll get the ML number so you couls look them up.
Good luck!!

    Bookmark   January 9, 2003 at 2:23PM
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My gosh, when I read the subject, I thought you were going to suggest moving back in with his/your parents! But, grandparents probably aren't a big deal -- I'd "test drive" it at least with some good back-out plans.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2003 at 4:47PM
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In some ways, I think it'd be WORSE! I know I said this before: I lived with my then future in-laws and DH before we were married and while it allowed me to get on my feet, I felt completely constrained. So you have to ask yourself if having your "style" seriously "cramped" (for lack of a better term) is a good tradeoff for saving money. Sanity or money? I'll take sanity, thank you! : )

    Bookmark   January 29, 2003 at 7:23PM
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My answer is "no". We did this when we were building our house to help our son/d-in-law out (at their suggestion). It was the worse thing we have ever done. Since you are practically newlyweds, I think compromising your privacy would be a big thing to give up. Do they have a finished basement or an apt. above their garage so you can really get away? If they don't, then again my answer is no.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2003 at 11:33PM
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