My wife and I are expecting our first child in April. We’re closing on a large house on a 16-acre farm with a small apartment above the barn. When my mom heard about this, she asked to move into the apartment. She and my dad live six states away, and she considers it their “retirement plan.” She offered free child care in exchange, which we don’t need, since my wife gets it for free at her work. My dad seems ambivalent about the prospect. My parents have declared bankruptcy twice in recent years and have never had much money; none of my siblings is in a position to help. But the reason we bought this property and not a much cheaper conventional home was because we wanted to turn it into a wedding venue. We need to rent out the apartment (for much more than my parents can afford to pay) for a few years until we’re done renovating the property and can turn it into a wedding-party suite. Either way, we’re depending on that apartment to generate money until we can open the business.
So the only way my parents could move in with us is if we invited them to share the house.
We will have the space for the next few years, although neither my wife nor I are excited about being my parents’ landlords or having roommates. But we want to have more children, and there just won’t be room. I’ve thought about offering them a space in the house for a fixed number of years rent-free so they can save money (though it is unlikely either will be working) and then be prepared to find new accommodations when our family grows. Realistically, they won’t be able to save enough to support themselves through the rest of their lives in the amount of time they live with us and will just find themselves in the same position they’re in now. Once they move in, I won’t be able to kick out my parents to make room for my child. I just can’t do that. So what do I do? Say no to my parents now, as they teeter on the brink of homelessness six states away and only occasionally see their only grandchild? Invite them into our home and potentially jeopardize our dream and very substantial financial investment? I love my parents and want to support them, but there is a very real chance that doing so will crush the chance my wife and I took on our dream and business investment.
—Farm Dreams or Parents’ Retirement?