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Is Multi-Generational Housing Right for You and Your Budget?

by Liana Colón Valentín

Looking for a way to cut living expenses? Consider if you could save money living with grown up kids or parents and if it is the right solution for you and your family.

My daughter had just graduated from high school. Although college was going to be significantly less than the cost of private high school, I was still facing financial uncertainty.

Times have been especially cruel in Puerto Rico. I am a single mother, and for the past couple of years, I had been cutting back on everything from luxuries like having a boat, to necessities like groceries. It became harder and harder to find expenses to cut

As I went over my budget, it was evident that living expenses were the biggest item. That is when the idea of getting a roommate first occurred. 

Living with family vs. a stranger

While the concept of sharing living expenses with someone seemed great, especially since there is no reason to have a whole house to myself, I was scared of bringing a stranger into my home.

Not only did I worry about my safety or my things going missing, but I also worried about the values and strange habits that my potential roommate would have. That is when it occurred to me that my single mother was in the same situation I was. Instead of getting a roommate, I moved into my mother’s house.

The key to making multi-generational work

All my friends thought I was crazy. I was almost 40 years old and moving back home, but I did not move “back” home.

My mother and I became roommates.

We agreed on the rules of the house, and we share expenses. For instance, my mother does most of the cooking, but she can take the day off whenever she wants to. While she pays most of the bills, I take care of others. I also brought along my cleaning lady and we share other tasks, such as taking care of our dogs.

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The upside to multi-generational housing

Neither of us has to worry about sharing a roof with a stranger, and we share the same values. The best part is that I save $500 a month in living expenses, compared to what I was spending before. In addition, I rented my house and that income goes to pay the mortgage, homeowner’s fees, taxes, and insurance. Plus, I have a little left over each month, about $200.

For my mother, it means having more disposable income and more financial security.

We agreed on the rules of the house, and we share expenses. For instance, my mother does most of the cooking, but she can take the day off whenever she wants to. While she pays most of the bills, I take care of others. I also brought along my cleaning lady and we share other tasks, such as taking care of our dogs.

The downside to multi-generational housing

The downside is that I live with my mother. Privacy can be an issue. Also, I had to give up certain commodities like en-suite bathroom and the freedom to make household decisions on my own.

The secret is to have good, honest communication and to bear in mind that the trade-off is great.

We decided on the rules before I moved in, and every once in a while, we go over the rules and modify them as needed. Even our relationship has improved and we have much more fun together than we used to have.

There is no point in having a whole house for just one person. The extra cash doesn’t hurt either.

Reviewed April 2019

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