The oldest members of the millennial generation are entering their early forties, which means that many of us have begun to rethink our priorities and rebalance our responsibilities. We raise families, buy homes, build our careers and – in many cases – seriously consider whether we should have closer contact with our parents, if we are lucky that it remains an alternative.
Some of us, especially those with young children, may be interested in moving closer to aging parents to give our children the opportunity to connect with their grandparents – and, of course, to give grandparents the opportunity to offer free childcare! Others, especially those of us with an older parent, may ask ourselves if it is time for us to provide care.
Many millennials will end up in the middle; members of the sandwich generation, who have less to do with when you were born and more to do with where you are in your life. If you take care of your children and an aging parent at the same time, you are trapped ̵1; and one way to solve the sandwich problem is to bring the two pieces of bread a little closer together.
This often means that either you or your parents will need to re-evaluate the accommodation options – but before you start packing the moving cars, it is worth asking yourself how the cost of living closer to the parents can balance out the benefits.
The cost of moving to be closer to your parents
In some cases, you can save a lot of money if you move to get closer to a family member. If your employer allows you to work remotely and your parents live in an area that has lower living costs, you can earn the same salary while reducing your expenses.
“If you’re already working from home, this may be a non-issue,” explains Heidi McBain, a licensed marriage and family therapist who specializes in the mental well-being of mothers and expectant mothers. That said, it’s a good idea to know what types of career opportunities will be available at your new location – and what those opportunities may pay off. “If you had to find another job after you moved, what would the labor market look like there? Are you ready for a career change? ”
McBain also suggests calculating exactly how much it will cost to move – because even if you think you will save money in the long run, you may still need to put in a lot of money just to make the move. “Explore the cost of living differences between where you live and where your parents live, including selling your current home and buying a new one, not having to pay for childcare or paying for only part-time care, etc.”
The cost of childcare can prove to be the biggest financial factor in your decision making, especially if you can forgo expensive daycare for free grandparent care. Keep in mind that you will probably be asked to provide free care services on your own – first to feed the cat or water the plants while your parents take their annual cruise, then to help your parents manage their finances as they begin to downshift and prepare. their property for the next phase of life. Eventually, you can become the primary caregiver for your entire family – both parents and children.
The cost of moving your parents closer to you
In some cases, you may not want to move back to your childhood hometown – but your parents may want to move to be closer to you.
“For some families, this is seen as a huge help, while for others it can be seen as intrusive,” says McBain. You may be in a situation where your parents can create their own home that is just far enough away from yours for you to be able to maintain a separate life; You may also be in a situation where your parents may want – or need – to move into your home and create a multi-generational household.
Both of these scenarios can bring you and your family closer together while saving you the cost of relocation, but you will likely incur extra care and social costs as you help your parents get used to their daily lives and new homes. “Often, if parents move to a new area to be closer to their children to help, they also rely on their children socially as well,” McBain told us. “This can feel suffocating for adult children until their parents have their own social support system. This situation may also require hard conversations in advance and clear boundaries when the parents live near their family.”
The cost of expectations versus reality
When it comes to difficult conversations to have with your parents – the biggest hidden cost in all of this can be the cost of expectations versus reality.
“Have the difficult conversations with family members about a potential move on the front, so you have nothing to do with moving and all the stress that comes with it, as well as the grief around your expectations and the reality that does not match,” McBain advises.
What kind of calls do you need to have? It depends on. If your parents are currently healthy, socially active and financially stable, all you need to do right now is discuss how often you would like to visit each other. Some families may be happy with a weekly dinner, while others may assume they will be able to come in at any time.
You must also have the childcare call. “You can expect your parents to help every day with your children, while allowing them to have a very active social life,” says McBain. “Or they may expect to help every day, but you’re worried about their health and whether this is actually feasible.”
This brings us to the most important – and ultimately most difficult – conversation: What can happen if one or both of your parents’ health deteriorates. If you are married or a partner and have a child, you should also ask what can happen if your partner’s parents become ill or need personal care full time. Will any of you temporarily move to be closer to them, or is it possible to bring all your loved ones within the same geographical radius? Is a supported housing an alternative?
These questions are not easy to answer – that’s why we will not try to answer them for you. All we can do is give you the tools to get the conversation started and determine if the cost of living closer to your parents will ultimately be outweighed by the benefits of having the people you love around you – in both best and worst case scenarios.