As the cost of buying a property rises, three-generational living is becoming more common. These are often short term arrangements where a grown-up child moves their young family in with their parents, or where an ageing parent moves in with their child and family for financial or health reasons.
Often the most stigmatised of family members, the in-laws are proving to be surprisingly helpful. With house prices remaining at high levels, the 'Bank of Mum and Dad' now extends to the 'House of Mum and Dad', enabling buyers to reduce their outgoings and free up their money to be put towards a deposit.
Relationships with the in-laws can often be viewed as challenging due to differences in values and behaviour but when you get it right, the benefits can be great for all generations. As well as the obvious financial benefits, living with family can often create a closer relationship between grandchildren and grandparents because they get to see each other every day. Having another set of adults under the same roof means that the responsibility of running a house and doing the school runs can be shared for everyone's benefit, so there's plenty to be positive about.
If you're considering taking the plunge into 3G living, here is some of the best advice we can offer, to help you all make the most of the situation.
Set boundaries around the key areas likely to cause conflict, for example, which parts of the home are communal or private and who does particular household chores. The key thing here is that you all have an input and mutually agree on the guidelines that will help you get along, and most importantly, that the outcome ensures everyone feels comfortable in the new living environment.
Regular communication is crucial and it's important to discuss any new or unresolved issues. However uncomfortable you may find it, speaking out honestly is essential to resolving any issues. Returning to a family home can have some adverse effects; the desire to become a big kid again and arguing with parents is a real possibility. Try and keep yourself out of any family disputes – leave them work through it out together to avoid further arguments or tension.
One of the biggest areas of contention could be over the children. It's important to state your expectations regarding discipline and care. If the adults involved aren't clear on their responsibilities, it can quickly lead to resentment and arguments, so agree this up front.
Discuss and agree finances in advance of moving in. There are sure to be little things that you hadn't considered, for example, paying the window cleaner. The bigger outgoings such as a nominal rent value or utility bills can, of course, be agreed in advance.
Establish a clear plan of action and expected timescales involved for you to get to where you need to be financially. Try not to deviate from this (it can be tempting to book a holiday when you're feeling a bit down and the weather is cold and rainy!) and work diligently to achieve those financial milestones. Remember living together is a temporary situation.
Set aside a regular 'date night'. This could be an evening which coincides with the in-laws night out, or you could propose that one evening per week is set aside for everyone to stay in their own living areas, ensuring everyone gets some uninterrupted down time.
It's important to be appreciative of your in-laws generosity, so let them know that you recognise this by showing your thanks. Living in close confinement with your in-laws can sometimes blur the fact that they are the people who you love and who love you back. It's certainly worth doing all that you can to strengthen your relationship whilst you're living together, instead of breaking it.