Not an Empty Nest for Long: When the Kids Move Out and Your Parents Move In

You were looking forward to an empty nest.

Of course, you were going to miss the pitter patter of (not so) little feet, but being able to enjoy yourself in your own home without having to manage anyone else sounded like heaven. But with all that extra room, you started thinking about your parents.

Your parents are getting older, but they aren't ready to move to a nursing home, or they don't want to. They're living on a fixed income, and it would be nice to get out of that big house they've been living in (and taking care of) all these years.

You’ll have to balance each of you having your own lives with being able to take care of each other. Moving your parents in can be very rewarding. Not only will you grow closer, you’re also helping save them money on a retirement home, and maybe even getting some help with your own mortgage.

But make no mistake, there can also be some major challenges. So how can you help prevent some headaches down the road?

Set ground rules before your parents move in

When it comes to setting up an agreement, you shouldn’t treat your parents differently than you’d treat any other roommate.

If your dad insists on smoking inside when you can’t stand the smell or your mom lets her dog on the couch and you find yourself constantly covered in dog hair, there’s going to be a lot of drama in your house.

Before they move in, sit down and respectfully talk through what you expect from each other. Then draw up and contract and sign it.

Renovate your home to make it work for older people

As your parents age, they’re going to have physical limitations that they didn’t have before. That means something as simple as stepping into the bathtub can become a major ordeal.

Make life a little easier for your parents by remodeling your home so they can age in place. A lot of the upgrades are things anyone would like in their home (hello, wider halls and rocker light switches).

Plus, the updates will already be in place if you decide you want to stay in the same home during your golden years. If you don’t have the savings to pay for it, consider using a home equity line of credit (HELOC).

Or buy a new home that works for you, your parents, and the kids when they come home to visit

Having your own space and independence when you live together can be a tricky situation. No one wants to feel like they’re living under the someone else’s rules. If you can’t come to a good solution in your old house, it might be time to move somewhere that fits your new situation a little better.

You might want to think about a new house with more clearly defined spaces for each of you.

A duplex could be a good option. You’re technically under the same roof, but you each have your privacy and autonomy. And, depending on your parent’s health, it’ll still be easy to care for their needs. If you do decide to move, think ahead to how you'll handle it when your kids come home for visits

Once you've figured out the details, living with your parents can be wonderful. Though there may be some bumps in the road, you'll appreciate the time with them and hopefully enjoy getting to know them even better.