Would You Live With Your Family?

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I’m a bit of a real estate addict. I’m always keeping an eye on the market to see what it’s doing, how it’s fluctuating, what my place is worth, what else we could get for a similar price, and so on. The other day I did a search without a maximum price listed, and it came back with a property that made me instantly fall in love.

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Isn’t it beautiful? Asking $2-2.5M it’s well out of my price range of course, but it’s just stunning. It was upon sharing it on Facebook my mother in law suggested we buy it as a family. I laughed it off thinking she was having a joke, but when she was over on the weekend she and the Viking started talking as if it were a serious suggestion.

The four of us would buy the house together, they would take the bottom floor apartment (which is house sized in itself) and we would take the rest. They would be on hand to help with kids, we would be able to all live together. It was even brought up that my brother-and-sister-in-law and their kids could move in as well.

At first I thought “What a horrible idea! Surely we would all want to kill each other” But then I thought about it more. What’s wrong with the idea?

I love my in laws, all of them, I love my nieces. Having babysitters in the house for everyone all the time would be amazing, even if it’s just about taking turns and juggling between the 6 adults, and then when my in laws need care we would be able to be there to help them. If we were to have my brother and sister in law as well, it would need to be a bigger place than this one of course, but there would be 6 adults, 4 working, so why not?

It’s not so unusual to have a few generations in the same house if you go back in history a little bit, even just 100 years. Or if you look at different cultures. And it’s been shown time and time again that it takes a village to raise a child. So why don’t more people do this?

I feel like our society is so focussed on the self, it doesn’t take into consideration the bigger family, or what might be a better way to live. A way to combine resources so we can all get the best, just by sharing it. And the only time this kind of thing is displayed in the media is in the form of “weird” people. Extreme religions, children who can’t let go, cults, serial killers, the Manson family and the like.

But it doesn’t have to be. In fact the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. We should buy a house together.

Would you live with your in-laws? Would you live in a multi-generational family home? 

Image from the real estate listing

  • Gary

    I grew up living in an extended family situation with my maternal grand parents. I wouldn’t swap that experience for anything. As far as I know my father happily lived with his in-laws and I know my grand mother and grand father and my grand father’s brothers who also lived in the house were very happy with the arrangement. Over time, my parents and I moved out but we always had my grand parents in our lives. It’s something to cherish.

  • Maryann

    When I was a teenager my maternal grandmother lived with us for a short period. It didn’t work as mum never really got on with her but Dad did. I liked having her living with us. Then when my mum died I moved Dad in with me. He lived with me until his death. It wasn’t always easy for either of us at times but overall it worked well. I think if you seriously decide to move down this pathway you will all need your own space but I do think it can work and be benefical for all concerned.

  • Mazi

    Several of my relatives live in 2 or 3 generation households. There is a lot to be said for a Granny Flat as well. I think with the cost of property increasing the old ways will return.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      Housing prices are a really good point. When it is too hard to buy a property on your own, perhaps this will become the only option.

  • Jessica Chapman

    I live with my parents and maternal grandmother. It works very well and we all get a long all the time. But we’re all pretty easy going personalities. Before her stroke my Grandma lived with her mother (who I called Nana) and that was a little tiring for my Grandma because she had to alter her lifestyle significantly to fit in. So little annoying things like, not ever having salad for dinner, not being allowed to make toast on the Sabbath. I noticed that she went travelling once every year while living with Nana to have a bit of a break.

    While I enjoy living with the members of my family I live with there are other members of my extended family I would never consider living with on any permanent basis because I find them a little controlling, passive aggressive and essentially I feel like I have to alter my behaviour around them and can’t just be myself. I couldn’t deal with that in a home, I’d hide in my room as much as possible. So I think it really does depend on the combination of personalities as to whether it works or not.

  • jrronimo

    I’m far too private a person. I wouldn’t be able to stand living with my family. They wouldn’t leave well enough alone.

  • Jess

    Be careful what you wish for! I come from a culture where it’s normal for several generations to live together, and for a number of years I lived with my parents, sister, and grandparents, and while we had some nice moments, overall it was a disaster. There is a big difference between liking your in laws and living with them.

    We argued about everything, going to bed too early, going to bed too late, watching TV too loud while someone’s sleeping, having friends over when someone’s not in the mood for guests, taking too long in the bathroom, dinner’s too early, dinner’s too late, and more than anything, everyone you live with will constantly be involved in every single aspect of your life. As a private person and an introvert, this drove me absolutely crazy.

    My family has never gotten along better than since we lived separately and none of us have any desire to live together again. just don’t think it’s natural, for lack of a better word, that people aged 8 to 80 all get along and can live together. Your needs, wants, and priorities in life, are just so different at those ages. I also feel like figuring it out on your own (or with your partner or your own family) is all part of being a grown up. Sure, we’d all like to live in a multi-million dollar mansion but just because I haven’t figured out a way to do that on my own, for me the solution isn’t to move back in with my parents, grandparents or in laws. Yes, you’ll save some money but you’ll pay in other ways.

    • http://kikiandtea.com/ Tamsin Howse

      That’s originally what I was thinking but did you look at the plans of that property? 8 bedrooms, 7 bathrooms, 7 living areas, 2 kitchens. We wouldn’t need to share ANYTHING. I wouldn’t consider it in a regular house, but I would in that one 😉

      Edit: I’m not actually going to go ahead with it.

      • Laws for Clouds

        I know a family that subdivided a block and built 3 houses on it, and who lived in the same suburb previously. Unfortunately family dynamics established in childhood came back so the youngest child is treated like the kid by everyone, and the kids are treated as kids by mum and dad. The spouses feel out of the inner circle. One family is better off and doesn’t like to share (as agreed). The babysitting didn’t work out as one child is highly medically fragile, and the other family doesn’t like anyone else’s parenting style.

        Two years in and they’re trying to get out, but no one can afford to move (or want to, they have nice houses in a nice suburb) so they’re waiting for someone else to crack first.

        It’s not that it can’t work, but even in your 30s you are still a child/little sister in your parents/siblings eyes!

  • http://cookingwithtoomuchsalt.wordpress.com/ An Idle Dad

    The key is your two level plan as separate houses. I think you’d be fine.

    I’ve lived with my in-laws for several years, they sometimes travel but are mostly at our place (they park their caravan in the driveway and sleep in there at night) but are obviously around during the day.

    Unlike you, I didn’t get along with FIL at all before he moved into my house – polar opposite in life experience, politics and finances. But now, if they’ve been away, it feels normal to come home from work and find them there.

    If anything, just make a three year plan – everyone agrees that you’ll live there for three years and if either family backs out, you all sell and move on. But I bet you won’t – as long as there is space, family is awesome to live with. I wouldn’t give up having my kids have their grandparents at the dinner table with us each night for anything.

  • Pelican Pie

    Where is the rest of the house? In the pic it looks like a film facade – propped up from the back.
    Caveat emptor, Tamsin!