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Should you let extended family move in to help with the mortgage?

The economic crisis has led more people to move in with family members. As a result, there has been an increase in multi-generational households since the recession began.

A record 49 million Americans, or 16.1 percent of the U.S. population, lived in a multi-generational household in 2008, compared with 12 percent in 1980, according to the Pew Research Center. Back in 1940, about a quarter of the population lived in multi-generational households.

Use checklist before living together

If you’re struggling to pay your home loan and other bills, it could help to have extended family members move in (and pay rent). But make sure that everyone involved has realistic expectations about the arrangement. Consider the following things when trying to decide whether to invite relatives to move in.

  • Do you actually like and get along with your relatives? You can’t pick your family members, but you can choose whether or not to be in close proximity to them. If you and your relatives have a history filled with disagreements and clashes, living together to get the mortgage paid could be a huge mistake.
  • Who will be responsible for various household bills? Ultimately, your name is on the documents for the home mortgage, so it is your responsibility to make sure it gets paid each month whether or not your relative comes up with cash to help. If necessary, draw up a formal contract that spells out the obligations for everyone.
  • If your adult children are moving back home, don’t expect them to have curfews or ask your advice for every move they make. It is important that they respect you and your home, so setting up some rules before they move in is important.
  • Set up an agreement for sharing household chores. You should not be picking up after your relatives all the time. Everyone should be fully aware of their responsibilities for cleaning the home, yard work, waiting for the cable guy, etc.
  • Are small children moving in with your relatives? If so, are they expecting you to be a regular babysitter? Decide exactly how much involvement you want to have with carpools, playground duty, and other child care arrangements.
  • Are elderly parents moving in? If so, what kind of care are they going to need and can you handle it?

Set up a plan for everyone

Depending on your particular case, there may be other factors you need to consider before agreeing to a multi-generational living arrangement. Take time to think through your situation to make your living arrangement as smooth as possible.

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