In a few months, my husband and I will lose the affordable on-campus housing his graduate school provides. Losing housing means that our rent and utilities will double.
So we’re moving in with my parents.
It makes sense for other reasons, too: It’s uncertain when my husband will actually graduate, and we’ll likely move away after he does. This co-habitating period will give us some quality family time before that happens. Financially, it’s a huge boon; my parents aren’t charging us rent, so we can save for a down payment on a home. We think that saving a year’s worth of rent could leave us with a cool $25,000 in the bank.
While my parents are pretty pumped about us living with them, there will be some growing pains. To make our stay as smooth as possible, we’ve worked together to set some ground rules, which may work for you too. Here’s how to survive moving in with your parents.
RULE #1: KEEP THE KITCHEN CLEAN
My husband and I know better than to leave a dirty kitchen in our wake. We cook a lot – three homemade meals a day, every day. Right now, we tidy our kitchen each night. But we’ll clean up my parents’ kitchen each time we use it, to respect them and their home.
RULE #2: PITCH IN
When money isn’t on the table, it’s important to contribute in other ways. While my parents won’t collect rent, they’re happy to cash in on dog-sitting hours. My parents devote themselves to their two young dogs and feel guilty when they work long days. They appreciate when I pop by their house on week days and check in on the dogs. I work from home, and since I’ll soon be working from their home, I’ll keep an eye on their pets. I’ll be responsible for bathroom breaks, walks, and the occasional round of fetch.
RULE #3: QUIET HOURS
If there is something all four of us have in common, it’s that we really don’t appreciate when neighbors are loud. Well, with four adults under one roof, things are about to get a little louder. My husband and I are early risers, so we’ll adjust our habits. Morning walks at 6:30 will cause the dogs to go crazy when we come back in the house, so we’ve all decided that before 7 a.m. and after 10 p.m., everyone will quiet down a bit.
RULE #4: SHARE THE CHORES
I lived at home throughout college. Back then, I tried to institute a cleaning rule called “power hour” where my mom, dad, sister and I would each clean for an hour, instead of my mom doing four hours of cleaning. Then we could use the saved time to go do something fun together. Sadly, my plan didn’t take off. But when I moved in with my husband four years ago, power hour became a part of our Sunday routine. My parents expect us to do our fair share, but my husband and I plan to kick power hour up a notch when we move in with them. We’ll do mini power hours each day for 15 minutes or so to make sure our spaces, and the common areas, stay nice and clean. Putting in a little extra weight around the house is the least we can do to say thanks.
RULE #5: BE THOUGHTFUL
This one seems so simple but could be easy to overlook. If I’m going to the grocery store, I’ll ask if my parents need anything. If I do a hyper-specific pale pink load of laundry, I’ll ask my mom if I can wash her pink items. Need a ride to the airport? No problem. While I tell my parents how grateful I am for them all the time, in this case actions are going to be much louder than words.
RULE #6: HAVE AN EXIT PLAN
We have been very open with my parents about our plan to move away once my husband graduates. They’re also aware that the end date may change. I plan to keep them up to date, so they never have to wonder about our plans.