The senior years can be an exciting and rewarding part of a person's life. You've worked hard your entire life to get to this point and now it's time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. In order to get the most out of the senior living experience, you may find it necessary to cut living costs a bit. Doing so allows for travel, increased family time and recreational activity, without having to account for a significant cost-of-living increase.
One of the best ways to cut costs is cohabitation with a family member. A lot of seniors are choosing to share living spaces with family in order to avoid worrying about day-to-day living expenses. The practice is very commonplace and some say it leads to a more cohesive extended-family unit. Whether you're a senior who plans on taking relatives in or one who plans on moving in with relatives, we've complied some guidelines to help make it a great experience.
Time Frame – First, determine if this will be a permanent or temporary arrangement. Even if you're not completely certain of the exact end date of the arrangement, try to come up with an approximation as to when the living situation will return to normal. If the arrangement is to be permanent, then that needs to be made clear from the beginning.
Rent and Utilities – Each adult in a given household should be responsible for their fair share of the living costs. It's highly unlikely that this will be a point of contention among reasonable parties, still, agreements should specifically spell out who will compensate whom for each specific cost and the amount that is to be expected. If the agreement isn't for money, chores and handy-work in lieu of rent for example, that arrangement, also should be specifically stated.
House Rules and Privacy – It's very important that previously established house rules be respected by the new home member. People become very accustomed to a certain lifestyle and adding a new person to that equation can be tricky. Remember, everyone needs ample privacy, especially a senior who may have been used to living on their own. At the same time, the new household member deserves as much respect and consideration as anyone else. For example, if someone needs to get up early for work everyday, then everyone in the home should respect reasonable quiet hours. Respect is key here, establish guidelines that will help all parties respect each others' time, space and living needs.
Cooking and Cleaning – It can also be very helpful to establish clear guidelines for cooking and cleaning responsibilities. This is especially true for those living on a fixed income, as the cost of groceries seems to be on the rise. No one wants to feel obligated to cook for and clean up behind an extended house guest. All adults in the home should be responsible for their fair share of the grocery costs and clear rules for cooking and cleaning should be established. In the case of familial cohabitation, we suggest rotating cooking and cleaning chores amongst the household members on a weekly basis.
Write It Down – This can be a tricky conversation to have with relatives, but an open and honest line of communication is key. If all of the previous items on this list are discussed in detail from the outset, then putting them in writing shouldn't be a problem. Keeping arrangements in writing establishes clarity, reinforces individual responsibility and helps prevent future disagreements.
The key to each item on this list is respect. As long as all parties involved are mindful and respectful throughout the process, this can be an extremely rewarding experience. Through cohabitation, seniors and their families can cut costs and make the most out of their time together. If you're planning on moving in with family, check the Find An Agent tool on our website. It will help you locate a local moving company that assists with relocation, storage and home decluttering services.