The senior years should be an exciting and rewarding part of life. You've worked hard for 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 back on your living costs. Doing so allows for travel and recreation as well as increased family time, without having to account for lofty cost-of-living expense increases.
One of the best ways to cut costs is cohabitation with a family member. It’s an increasing trend for senior to choose to share living spaces with family in order to avoid worrying about day-to-day living expenses; 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, it should be determined if this will be a permanent or temporary arrangement amongst your family. Even if you have not completely nailed down 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 right up front for the sake of avoiding any conflicts in the future.
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, this should not be left to chance. Signed 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 family member in the home. People become very accustomed to a certain lifestyle and adding a new person to that equation can easily throw off the balance. Remember, everyone needs ample privacy, especially a senior citizen 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 every day, then everyone in the home should respect reasonable quiet hours. Respect is the key here. Establish guidelines that will help all parties respect each others' time, space and living needs.
Chores – It can also be very helpful to establish clear guidelines for household responsibilities. This is especially true for those living on a fixed income, as the cost of groceries is 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. These responsibilities should also be laid out in the cohabitation agreement.
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.