I thought I would begin by addressing the elephant in the room. Yes, we live with our parents. Yes, we intentionally and prayerfully made this decision together. Yes, we love it!
I am constantly taken aback by how many people find it surprising (read, weird) that we live with our parents. Did you choose to live with them? Why would you do THAT? How does that work?
First off, we live with my husband's parents. We were both in the market for a home at the same time and after not being able to find what we wanted on our own (house on acreage= lots of moola), we decided to join forces. We stumbled upon a home in the country that was most definitely out of our price range and out of our parents price range, but it offered exactly what we needed (wanted): land + a big house with room to grow. On a whim, we decided to go check it out and we fell in love. The basement was a large, unfinished walk-out, and better yet, the driveway curved around to the back entrance with a huge, new pole barn next to it. We knew this house would work, and we were excited about the potential it offered. So, the next day we wrote an offer and things got real.
Fast forward to now. We have been in our home for over a year now. The basement is 95% finished with a full kitchen, laundry, living room, 2 bedrooms, craft room, and storage. We call this space "Nana and Papa's House". The upper 2 levels are occupied by the 4 crazy children of ours, and they let us stay there too. The upstairs has and will be a constant remodeling project. It was very much the opposite of our style and taste when we moved in (dark colors, oak everything, lots of carpet and linoleum and wallpaper).
Here is what we have learned so far:
If you've ever said "I could never live with my parents", then multi generational living is NOT for you. Trust your instincts on this one. You don't want to get yourself into a living situation that you cannot easily get yourself out of. We knew we were compatible with each other prior to writing an offer. My husband and I lived with his parents on a couple of occasions (with kids and without kids), while we were transitioning between homes. We learned the ins and outs of shared space, shared responsibilities, and shared time.
Make sure that you create a space that is separate from each other. The way our home is set up, it really feels like living in a duplex or like having an "in-law" apartment. We each have our separate homes to go to, cook in, keep clean, watch TV in, etc..
Figure out the nitty-gritty details before taking any big steps. Who pays the bills? How do you divide up the expenses? How do you divide up the yard work and other household chores like "whose job is it to take the trash bin out each week?".
Set rules and boundaries. This one is really for our parents. We were (and will continue to be), concerned about our kids invading their space. We want our kids to treat Nana and Papa's house as a place they need to be invited to. As awkward as it can sometimes feel, we always knock first before going into each other's homes.
Have Family Meetings.
Set up a joint account for paying the mortgage and household bills. That's all I know about this one- this is my husband's department.
Be honest. If something bothers you about the living arrangement, say so. Get it resolved. In the same way if something is working and is good, say so! Rejoice in the good!
We continue to be amazed at how well multi-generational living is working for us. We love that our kids get to have their Nana and Papa around all the time (can you imagine having that when you were a kid?!). We love sharing our homestead dreams and chores together (many hands make light work). We love knowing that when they are older and potentially home-bound, that we will be able to take care of them much more easily than if they were at their own place. We are (fairly) confident they feel the same way :)