#935 Rent Savers: Live With Your Parents or In-Laws

24 Jan

You can save for your own house while living with your parents or in-laws. Photo via flickr by Images_of_Money.

You can save for your own house while living with your parents or in-laws. Photo via flickr by Images_of_Money.

Living with your parents or in-laws as a way to save money for a period of time will totally depend on the relationship you have with them. Some should never enter this agreement, but others can negotiate it just fine. Children in other cultures stay in the family home through university and even until they get married. It’s really a unique phenomenon in the United States to have children out on their own by the time they’re 18 and off to college.

There are lots of reasons to stay at home through university and later. One of the big reasons is to save money. Now I’m not talking about being a “freeloader” or having an indefinite stay with your parents or in-laws, but here are some good reasons to live with your parents or in-laws for a period of time to save money:

  • College.
    College is a good time to save money on housing and live at home.

    College is a good time to save money on housing and live at home.

    To cut down on college expenses, if you’re going to college where you grew up, it makes sense to live at home. European universities don’t usually offer housing as students always lived at home with their parents while attending school. Because cost of living is high and college is almost free in Europe, it makes a lot of sense. Saving on housing during college will reduce your overall loan burden if you’re taking out loans to cover tuition and housing.

  • Transition times.  If you just graduated college and are looking for a job (or making close to nothing) or if you’re making a big life transition like trying to launch a new business or going back to school, it’s a huge help financially to live with your parents while sharing expenses. Many detailed conversations about expectations should be had beforehand. If your parents are like most parents, they’ll love to have you back. But it’s time for an adult relationship, something that may or may not be difficult for both parties.
  • Saving for your own place (or other goal). If you’re ready to make the move to home ownership, it could accelerate your savings to move in with your parents or in-laws for a period of time. Everyone will celebrate when you move into your new place, in a good way. You could also save for another goal like paying for grad school or starting a business.
  • Health reasons. If you’re parents are in need of your help, it would be a great time to move in with them to help out. They took care of you, it’s only natural to take care of them. Sure they’re not a cute little baby like you were, but they’re you’re parents. It would save both parties a lot of money to have some help and reconnect. Even if it’s only a temporary arrangement like while your mom recovers from surgery and goes to physical therapy, everyone will feel a closer family bond.

Now if you’ve decided to live with your parents or in-laws as an adult, here are some rules to make everyone’s life easier:

  • Have discussions about who will pay for what. You may not be paying rent, but you should help out with groceries, utilities and other bills related to living expenses. If you’re a student and not earning income, then you should decided what you’ll do around the house to help out. Laundry, dishes, cooking, cleaning and mowing the lawn are all up for grabs and a relief for parents if they don’t have to do it.

    A helping hand is always nice, but graduating to an adult relationship is key. Photo via flickr by stephanski.

    A helping hand is always nice, but graduating to an adult relationship is key. Photo via flickr by stephanski.

  • Have discussions about space and your need for your own space (and their need for their space). Ideally, you can have a garage or basement space that is pretty much self-serving. Or if you’re lucky, a second home or apartment that they aren’t using. If you’re staying in your old bedroom in the house with much more shared space, then talking about what you and your parents need in terms of privacy and space will save some serious problems from arising.
  • Have a timeline. Be clear about the timeline and update it as things change. Actively work on your goals that you are trying to achieve while living at your parents. Living with your parents for a year to achieve a goal is fine. If it stretches on more than a year as you are transitioning or looking for work, then have a state of the union with your parents or in-laws and ensure that the arrangement is still working for everyone and adjust as necessary.
  • Be honest. Both parties should be honest and up front about their feelings and what they’re thinking from the start. If one party or the other can’t deal with something, then the arrangement isn’t going to work. If both parties know what to expect and any changes in plans are communicated long ahead of time, then everyone will be happier.
  • Be grateful. Your parents or in-laws are helping you achieve your goals. Show your gratitude by sticking to the rules and financial arrangements, being respectful and thoughtful and saying thanks. And repay them any way you can down the road.
  • Be an adult. This might be the hardest for both parties – letting go of the parent-child dynamic and having an adult relationship. It’s probably easier if you’re living with your in-laws as your relationship has always been an adult relationship (you’ll have to help your spouse transition though). This means not meddling and offering unsolicited advice or judgement from the parents’ side and being mature and self-reliant on the child’s side.

Deciding to live with parent or in-laws is a huge decision once a child has left the family home or if it continues on beyond the “accepted” mark of living with your parents. Be confident in your goals and use the opportunity to save money, become financially independent or start your new life. Your parents will be so proud.

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