1 How long the arrangement will last
One of the first things you’ll want to discuss with your child is how long you’d like to live with them. Will it be a temporary situation that lasts a few weeks or months while you recuperate from an illness? Or will it be permanent? Be honest with yourself and your kids. The length of time will affect the other decisions you have to make.
2 Living arrangements
If it’s temporary, moving into a room in your child’s existing home probably makes the most sense. A permanent arrangement will require more consideration and planning.
Is there enough room for everyone? Will you have your own private space?
Twenty-eight percent of adults in multigenerational households say there isn’t enough space to live comfortably.1 It’s important to make sure everyone has a spot they can call their own. While many of us are willing to put up with cramped quarters to help out family, tensions can rise if you’re on top of each other too long.
Will renovations be necessary?
If extensive renovations would be required to accommodate you, you and your child will want to weigh the costs of making these upgrades versus getting a new place together. To help you decide, walk through your child’s home and note the changes that would be needed. Major updates would include things such as adding a bedroom or bathroom or building a wheelchair ramp. A minor change would be adding safety rails in the shower. Any discussion about renovations should also include who will pay for them and any new furniture that may be needed.
Would it be better to look for a bigger home together? Or a place with an in-law apartment or guesthouse?
Based on your responses to the previous questions, you and your child might decide that getting a new place is the best option for everyone—financially and emotionally. If so, it’s important to make sure you’re on the same page about:
- Price range and the breakdown of financial responsibility
- Type of home—apartment, freestanding, townhome, or condominium
- Must haves and dealbreakers such as a first floor bedroom
Your money talk should also include daily living expenses. While you may be sharing a household to help save money, some expenses could increase, such as utilities and groceries. So you and your child need a plan for managing a joint household. Will both of you pay a percentage of each bill? Or will you divide up the responsibility—you pay the mortgage, and your child covers utilities? The majority of parents living with an adult child say they pay more than half of the rent or mortgage, including 51% who say they pay all of it.1 Additionally, most say they pay more than half (26%) or all (45%) of the household expenses.1
Coming up with a joint budget that works for everyone requires an open and honest conversation about how much money each person can realistically put toward the household given their personal expenses and financial goals. While this can be a tough discussion to have, it can help you avoid feelings of resentment and financial issues later on.
Remember to also maintain a personal budget as there are things you’ll want to buy (new clothes) and save for (retirement) that won’t involve your child.
This arrangement can also create unique tax and estate planning issues for family members, which are beyond the scope of this article. You may want to consult with a tax professional and attorney about your situation.
4 Ground rules
Beyond money, there are other things you’ll want to discuss to help set expectations and preserve your relationship.
- How many nights or days are you willing to watch the grandkids?
- Will you need your child to take you to doctor appointments? Shopping?
- Who will handle household chores? Yardwork?
- Will you eat dinner together every night or a couple of days a week?
Once you come to an agreement, you might consider putting your ground rules in writing and holding monthly family meetings to discuss how things are going. Both can help keep minor issues from becoming major ones.
5 Family dynamics
Family relationships can be complicated, and living in a multigenerational household adds a layer of complexity. With everyone under one roof, you’ll have to make a conscious effort not to slip back into parent mode, where you provide unsolicited advice about how your child is maintaining the household or parenting—even if you’d handle both differently. Understanding boundaries and mutual respect are critical for this living arrangement to work.
Additionally, if you have more than one child, you’ll want to make sure everyone’s involved in the discussions about who you should live with. Including all your children in the process helps you avoid hurt feelings and misunderstandings about why you chose their sibling’s home over theirs.
Are you ready to live with your child—again?
With proper planning and open communication, living in a multigenerational household can be a rewarding experience. Fifty-six percent of adults say living with adult family members (other than their spouse or partner) has been at least somewhat positive, with 30% saying it has been very positive.1 But it’s not for everyone, so make sure you give it careful consideration—before you call the moving van.
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1 “Financial Issues Top the List of Reasons U.S. Adults Live in Multigenerational Homes,” Pew Research Center, March 2022.
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