Would you move to support your parents? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 43 Old 10-12-2009, 08:48 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, we just bought this house a year ago, and are not ready to move just yet. However, this is something dh and I have been pondering a lot, so I thought I'd let the wise voices of MDC chime in.

We live in a house we like, not love. But it's very nice (best kitchen ever!), big yard, cul de sac, and dh can walk to work. Safe, clean suburban neighborhood. We can afford the mortgage. The area itself is okay, not fantastic as far as amenities and coolness factor, but just fine. (The neighboring areas are way too expensive.)

My mom is 67 and runs her own consulting business. She supports herself, but has nothing in the way of retirement. Doesn't own a home. Single. No safety net, and this is a high cost of living area. Unless she moves far far away to a really cheap area (where can you live on $1,000/mo?), we're pretty much going to end up supporting her at some point. However, we have no actual money to give her on a monthly basis. We can pay our bills, but we're basically paycheck to paycheck. So the only way we could support her would be to move to a less expensive area and buy a house that has a second unit. (None of us want to live in the same house together - I love her but might have to kill her if we shared a kitchen and bathrooms.)

We have an area in mind. It's more rural, although there is an artsy, yuppie kind of vibe there. It's about an hour from here, and dh would have to commute. I don't know how well I would do in a more rural area. I love the idea of my kids having land and space and freedom, but I am kind of a city girl and I worry that I would just hate it. Right now we're 20 mins from the city. And dh commuting so far . . . that would really suck.

But, I don't know what to do about my mom. My sister is totally useless, and we have no other family. And while she is supporting herself now, she is getting more tired and dealing with health issues, and I don't see how much longer this is really going to go on. With the economy downturn, she has lost some big clients and is now barely making it.

So, WWYD? Do you move to an area you don't really like and have your dh commute for almost 2 hours a day so that you can support your mom? And if not, what do you do?
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#2 of 43 Old 10-12-2009, 09:08 PM
 
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Have you spoken to your mother about this? She may have a different plan -or maybe the same as you. Do you have any space to add a studio apt type space? She will have some SS income that could possibly go towards the additional mortgage an addition might add. I would be reluctant to move to an area you don't want to live in until ruling out all options to make it work in your current location. You might end up resenting her.

I always think about when DH's mom might need to move in with us- totally not doable where we live right now without a major remodel!

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#3 of 43 Old 10-12-2009, 09:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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There's really no way to add to the house to accomodate a separate kitchen, laundry, etc. The downstairs rec room could be modified to be like a small bedroom and sitting area with it's own bathroom, but I don't really love this house enough to want to go through all that and have my mom living downstairs and in my kitchen every day. Plus, if her $1k/mo is going towards our equity line to pay for the remodel, then how is she feeding herself or paying her medical bills?

She and I have spoken, and she has no plan. She doesn't want to be a burden, but let's face it, she is. She has no one else to take care of her. (I have some anger about the choices she's made to end up where she is, but there's not much I can do about that. I'm not going to let her go homeless because "I told her so.") She and I would both prefer that she have her own space, rather than living in the same house with us.
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#4 of 43 Old 10-12-2009, 10:04 PM
 
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I wouldn't want my husband doing the 2 hour commute ever again. He did it for a year and it almost killed him.
Can you stet up some kind of mini kitchenette in your basement? Just a mini fridge, microwave and mini oven thing?
The only other suggestion I can think of is she looks for a house share with women in the same situation as her.
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#5 of 43 Old 10-12-2009, 10:06 PM
 
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yes...but i would not be want to do exactly what you described. i would want to take some time to come up with a better plan - for all of us. but yes, ultimately i would do what i had to do...

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#6 of 43 Old 10-12-2009, 10:24 PM
 
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In general, I have found parents prefer independence and don't want to live with their kids. You can offer a basement room or help finding a roommate situation. There is no reason to move or remodel to "take care of" Mom or as a just-in-case situation. A 2-hour commute would be a scary idea - how could anyone do that for the long term?

Is RV parking legal in your area? A small, non-drivable used RV is very low cost these days and offers privacy.
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#7 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 12:00 AM
 
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My mom is preparing for care right now.. she is in her 60s.. she had a tub installed last year that opens from the floor.. she bought a ranch house (three steps outside, but room for a ramp if needed)... she is buying insurance for elderly care..

but if she didn't have all that I would welcome her into my home in a minute.

My father on the other hand.... I don't know.

Sorry I am no help.
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#8 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 01:52 AM
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I would move.
My mom is 70 this year, she has a plan, not sure Dh is in on most of it, we'll see she will be here on Wednesday for 3 mths and I'm sure we'll all talk.
She wants to sell us her house (3 bed 2 bath) and move to something small, 2 bed at most, something more accessible in case of her getting less mobile. She's already apartment hunting and saw a beauty worth more than her house over looking a park
Anyway it would involve us moving country, so we will have to sell up, we won't go till Ds finishes high school he's 10th grade.
So in a nutshell yes I'd move to help her and look after her she's all alone now and my sister lives in a third country, we are all over the world.
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#9 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 01:52 AM
 
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Hmmm, tough call. I can't quite imagine the situation, as my mom would just come live with me. In fact, I'd love it if she came to live with me now! My idea of the perfect living situation is me, dp, any children we have, and my mom, lol. All the people closest to me, under the same roof.

Heck, if I had enough money, I'd get my grandparents and great aunt in there too.

But, yea, that's not very helpful to you. I suppose, my answer would be that I'd do whatever I needed to do in order to care for my mom. After all, what is the alternative?

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#10 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 06:20 AM
 
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What does your mom say about all of this and how long does she plan to continue working? 67 is still pretty young. Do you need to make plans in the next year or so?

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#11 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 09:39 AM
 
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In some situations, I would consider moving to care for an aging relative. But not in the situation as you've described.

It sounds like your anticipated care of your mom comes more from a sense of duty than a (pre-requisite?) solid love and desire to be together on a consistent basis.

You cannot foresake your own lives to mitigate her absence of a long-term plan.

I saw my parents do it for my mom's parents. Turned into an expensive 1/2-way-across-Canada move that has had them splitting their times between two provinces for about 7 years now. Totally living in limbo. Purchase of undesirable property now turning into sale - probably at a loss. No one ever got the benefit out of all this hoopla as my grandparents' health suddenly declined to the point that all the plans were moot - grandfather hospitalized and grandmother in the city with lots of homecare.

Helping your mom explore the opportunities to move to a small town in a very inexpensive part of the country is not all doom and gloom. When someone cashes out in the "big city" and moves to a cheap little town, we love to applaud their shrewdness. Doing it because you "have to" has just a much financial zing and just as much life savy.

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#12 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 09:50 AM
 
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I really doubt, barring a convalescent state, that most able bodied seniors would want to give up their independance.

I have friends of all ages, many of my friends are in their 70s-80s. Though their bodies may be wrinkled and achy at times they are mentally just the same as we are. I talk to my 70+ y.o. mom about this all the time. She still feels like she's young (in her head) it's just that her body shows her age.

Obviously, if the situation changes, and she starts to have physical or mental limitations, then that is another story.

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#13 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 10:09 AM
 
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I hate to say it, but one day I will be the mom in that situation. My dc are grown, I have health issues (but I do pursue medical care, so as likely as any woman to outlive my dh,) and my dh doesn't seem to have a clue that I will need the retirement funds he spends without much thought.

My dd has divorce pending and will soon be raising her two babies solo - currently in my home, and ds hasn't met the right person yet. He has assured me that I will be cared for, and we mesh well, there's no guarantee it would be a smooth with a future daughter-in-law. I wish he'd start dating the friend he hangs out with now, she's a sweetie, but he says that's not going to happen. I am also thinking a studio apartment will be fine for me, as I don't even need near the amount of space I'm in now. I don't see how I could make the change if dd and her children are still with me though.
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#14 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 10:18 AM
 
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I would either talk to an architect or contractor about modifying the existing house (even if I didn't love, love, love it) or find a house with a MIL apartment in your current area. You may not see how it could be done, but an architect might, if you haven't consulted one already.

I've done the extremely long commute thing and I'll never do that again. It was dreadful on so many levels.
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#15 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 12:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, I would love for my mom to have her own house on our property. I think that would be ideal. We're very close and I want her in our lives. It's in the same house that I'm not excited about, and neither is she. But we can't afford a piece of land that has two homes anywhere within 30-45 mins of dh's work. (We live and work in Marin County, if that helps you appreciate the cost of living here.)

And even if we could modify our home, we don't have the money to do it. Selling the house is the only way to free up enough money to get a property with two units.

My mom certainly wants her independence, but she can't live with no money and rent is by far the biggest expense around here. She would have to move far away from all of us, and no one wants her to grow old alone, and rarely see her.

Maybe it's because I've grown up in the SF Bay Area, but most everyone I know has parents who either own their homes, or have enough retirement. I have one friend who is in a similar situation, but she's the sister and her sister is me, although her sister is married to a contractor and has a large enough piece of property (she lives about 45 mins away from us) to accomodate an inlaw unit.
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#16 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 12:27 PM
 
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There are many many retired people living on $1000 a month. Not living particularly well, but they get by. Mexico is one idea, or some low cost of living part of the West? With a roommate it would be very doable.
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#17 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 12:41 PM
 
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Oh girl! What a hard decision! My mom is in the same position. My dad passed away 9 years ago of a massive heart attack and my mom had to find a job. All the insurance money is gone now.

What would we do? Dh and I have discussed that we would definitely take care of her and his parents if need be, too. But it would have to be on our terms. Not to be mean, but having your dh suffer by all that driving is just not what I think you should do. He will tire out and your relationship will suffer. I think you need to keep thinking of other ideas. Something will come up!

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#18 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 01:15 PM
 
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"I" wouldn't. My mother followed us up to Oregon and lives a mile away and I can't stand her being even this close. When we have lived in the same houses my feelings for her go back to hatred rather than general annoyance.

That said, DH's grandma has no retirement at all. She lives off SS (she told me this WAS her retirement.) There are apartments that rent to seniors. The rent is based on their income. She wasn't really paying that much at all for this apartment. Maybe you can look into something like that??
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#19 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 01:37 PM
 
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"I" wouldn't. My mother followed us up to Oregon and lives a mile away and I can't stand her being even this close. When we have lived in the same houses my feelings for her go back to hatred rather than general annoyance.

That said, DH's grandma has no retirement at all. She lives off SS (she told me this WAS her retirement.) There are apartments that rent to seniors. The rent is based on their income. She wasn't really paying that much at all for this apartment. Maybe you can look into something like that??
My dad lives in a senior living apartment complex, his rent is affordable just on his social security and it's a great sense of community. I got stopped 4 times walking through the parking lot last time he was sick, they really look out for each other.

I personally wouldn't move my family like that, especially with the commute for your dh. I think there are ways to help your mom that don't sacrifice your family's quality of life.
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#20 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 01:53 PM
 
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I am the probably would not camp but I would also consider -

how stable is your DH's job? Will he always be able to walk from work even if his current employement changes?

What is his opinion of a potential move?

Would the move benefit the overall family and quality of life? Example - if the schools at the new place are far superior and the quality of living is better maybe DH would be ok with commuting.

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#21 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 02:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Dh has been at his job for 10 years, so it's as stable as any job can be these days. If he lost it for some reason, it would be difficult to find a job in the immediate area (he'd have to commute to the city, which isn't too bad from here but not the greatest either). But, if he lost his job we'd definitely move to a cheaper area.

I don't know what to do, but something is going to need to happen in the next year or two at the latest.
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#22 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 02:40 PM
 
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My parents NOPE!

My mil sure! My mil now lives with my bil and sil.

I would be more incline if your mom needs care she needs to come into your house.
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#23 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 10:34 PM
 
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Oh, I would love for my mom to have her own house on our property. I think that would be ideal. We're very close and I want her in our lives. It's in the same house that I'm not excited about, and neither is she. But we can't afford a piece of land that has two homes anywhere within 30-45 mins of dh's work. (We live and work in Marin County, if that helps you appreciate the cost of living here.)

And even if we could modify our home, we don't have the money to do it. Selling the house is the only way to free up enough money to get a property with two units.
I'm not talking building her a house, I'm talking modifying the existing house to have a small apartment. If it were me, I'd think about something with a sitting room, a sleeping area, a kitchenette and a bath. I wouldn't think that you'd need to duplicate things like a laundry area, as she could use yours once or twice a week without majorly getting in your face.

I have a friend who did this for her mother and it was a good set-up. It was enough privacy that they weren't at each other's throats all the time.

Selling your house, buying a new house and moving is also going to cost money, even if you do it as cheaply as you can. Doing a long commute will cost money and stress out the family.
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#24 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 10:43 PM
 
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senior living apartment complex
Good point - find out what is in your area and get her on the waiting list. Some of these buildings are nice, or at least OK. It will meet basic needs.
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#25 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 10:51 PM
 
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I would talk to your are concil on aging. I live in a "top 5 places to retire area" (not saying it is, just someone at Forbes magazine thinks it is) and we just had a beautiful sliding scale senior apartment complex built. When it first opened there was no waiting list and even now there isn't much of one. It's kind of weird, it's non smoking so you have to smoke outside and since it's getting cold out the residents are moving. Moving away from a beautiful, although small apartments, place where the cheapest rent is $12 a month and the most is $600. And it goes on income, not assets.
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#26 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 11:48 PM
 
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(We live and work in Marin County, if that helps you appreciate the cost of living here.)
"snort!" We lived in Sonoma County, moved to Lake County to be able to afford a house, then moved to Oregon when we needed to upgrade. And this (the move to Oregon) was 5 years ago! I totally appreciate the cost of living and I don't know where you would go short of Napa or Sonoma County to be able to find and afford land and I don't think it is all that affordable there. I think the "best" chance you have of finding affordable land is in the Valley but I grew up there and wouldn't wish that move on my worse enemy!
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#27 of 43 Old 10-13-2009, 11:58 PM
 
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Wow, that's tough. I was thinking "how could there be nowhere nearby where she could live on that much?" but then you mentioned Marin -- yikes! I grew up in Sonoma County and can definitely understand the COL issues in Marin.

Hmm ... how much extra would you be paying per month if you moved to the area you're considering? Instead of moving, could you put that amount toward subsidizing her $1,000 to stretch it a little? And as others mentioned, are there senior communities nearby where the housing costs are cheaper? Maybe in Novato or something? In Sonoma County there are definitely places like that, but that might be a bit of a hike for you guys if you're wanting to live very nearby.

As for whether I'd do it, probably not in the situation you describe. In my own life, DH and I have talked about the fact that either of our mothers is welcome to come live with us if she needs to in old age (although 67 is quite young still, IMO!), so we're planning our next home purchase to include accommodations for that. We don't mind sharing a kitchen, but a separate bedroom/bathroom that's clearly it's own unit (like downstairs from the main living area or something) is a must. Now, if both of them end up needing accommodation, I don't know what we'll do! Hopefully one of them is able to care for herself for a long time, or can live with a sibling or something.

It's hard thinking about facing these issues as our parents age -- I'm sorry that it's something you're already having to deal with with such a young mother.

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#28 of 43 Old 10-14-2009, 01:26 AM
 
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The Senior community I mentioned previously for GMIL was in Santa Rosa.
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#29 of 43 Old 10-15-2009, 10:03 AM
 
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We will be in a similiar but not quite the same situation. *hug*

My Mom -- through no fault of her own -- will need help and probably a place to live. She has no real retirement fund and she lives in a rapidly declining area. We are lucky in that she could move into our current home and still have some semblance of privacy (own bedroom, bathroom and living space in basement -- just no kitchen). It will be hard because all three of us adults (Mom DH and I) are strong-willed but we will manage.

On the commute, I would not encourage a two-hour commute. I hated my long driving commute in Chicagoland -- and the few times it hit two hours I was in tears.

Good luck!

Jen, Mom to DS (8) , DD (5) & Alli
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#30 of 43 Old 10-15-2009, 05:06 PM
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I wouldn't do it. There are options and I think your mom, even though she has no plan currently, can take the time to explore these options and come up with a plan.
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