As a Filipino, I find it quite amusing how Western millennials and their parents complain about having to live together under one roof even when the former have graduated from college. Where I come from, it’s actually quite normal to live with your parents until you get married. Heck, I even know of married couples who cohabit with theirs or their in-laws. It’s a cultural thing, I guess.
Yet, as high-rise condominiums mushroom across the metropolis, living on your own has become more common among my peers. While financial capability is a factor in this decision (you’d need a stable job to be able to pay off your rent or mortgage for starters), some of us still opt to stay at the family home despite being able to afford our own digs.
If you are currently in the process of deciding whether to live alone or to do so amidst family members, here are the latter’s pros and cons to help you along:
1. Closer family relationships.
It’s a lot easier to carve out quality time for each other when you all live under the same roof. There is something to be said about having dinner with your family almost every night.
Plus, if you already have children of your own, they’ll get to bond with their grandparents better and create some pretty wonderful memories.
2. An extra helping hand.
Provided that a fair division of chores has been established beforehand, having another set of adults in the house can make running it considerably easier. In an ideal scenario, each person picks up after themselves and does their share of the housework, giving everyone more time and energy to enjoy each other’s company.
This is especially beneficial for new parents. Having grandparents living in the same house means someone can take care of the baby when you’re too tired from the recent birth or from work. You could also benefit from their parenting wisdom from time to time (e.g., how to soothe a grumpy baby, what to do when they get colicky, etc).
Lastly, cohabiting can give elderly parents the reassurance that someone will be around to help them out in case of an emergency.
3. Financial savings.
Those of us still living with our parents know this to be a major plus. When you live at home, you get to keep most of what you earn since you don’t have to pay rent or even for utilities in most cases.
If it’s a parent or a relative coming to live with you, on the other hand, they’re likely to make a contribution to the household coffers. In some cases, this can even be as significant as paying for the construction of an extension of the house or for some long-needed repairs.
1. Blurred boundaries.
Okay, sometimes close family relationships can be too close for comfort, especially if in-laws are already involved.
When people live together, they’re bound to find out certain things about each other that they could have gone without knowing. If you’re the sort who likes to bring your dates home, for instance, it would be quite awkward for your parents to walk in on both of you should they need a glass of water later in the evening.
The same goes for newlyweds too. The constant presence of one’s in-laws or parents isn’t exactly conducive to the sort of giddy, touchy-feely stuff that most couples in the honeymoon stage like to engage in.
2. Less space.
Unless you live in Buckingham Palace or have pooled your resources together to rent out or buy a bigger space, bringing in more people will inevitably make things feel more cramped. I once had a married couple and their in-laws as tenants, and when their first baby came along, the grandparents had to move into a refurbished store room on the same floor.
And even if you have an unusually large living space to begin with (e.g., your children have all left the nest), a relative moving in could significantly change its feel. If you like having your space all to yourself, this could be a dealbreaker.
3. Potential for familial conflict.
Familiarity can breed contempt. When it’s all too easy for in-laws or parents to intervene in your life or in the upbringing of your kids, for instance, tensions can easily rise up.
Having a space to escape to until everything’s simmered down often helps, but how do you accomplish that when the current object of your frustration is just in the next room?
The norms for living arrangements vary from place to place, so don’t feel pressured to choose one over another just to fit in. As individuals, we all have different needs and wants, and just because living alone suits your colleagues or friends doesn’t mean you should feel bad about preferring to live with your parents or relatives, as well as vice versa.
At the end of the day, it’s your life and the key thing is that you’re completely at peace with whatever consequences your chosen living conditions may bring.