Author Topic: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House  (Read 5782 times)

frutopia

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Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« on: May 09, 2012, 01:48:27 PM »
Hello all. A recent change in my life has brought me off the lurker sidelines and onto these boards for advice. My wife's parents moved in with us a week ago. They are Mexican citizens, and their meager savings and livelihoods have been basically wiped out by the drug cartels that have ravaged their town, just inside Mexico on the border of Texas. Both they and my wife have lived in fear for their safety, so we moved them in with us in Houston while we file for legal residency visas. This will take at least 3 months.

The problem is, we just got married two months ago. We are barely starting our life together, we have almost no foundation, and it's already starting to wear on me. I knew we would eventually need to help them, and I know it's absolutely the right thing to do, and I want to be a good sport. But I've had almost no time to really prepare myself for it.

Do you have any advice for me? Any tips for living with parents, especially immigrant ones? Any thoughts on keeping perspective?

And, for the mustacian part, if you were looking at the prospect of supporting aging parents while trying to start a life with someone, what would you be thinking about? How would you do so in the most, I guess, fiscally advantageous way? I'm thinking about things like long term housing, health care, etc.

For background, my wife and I are late 20s, no kids yet, gross around $150k, with some student loans and a mortgage on my 2 bedroom house. I'm happy to provide any additional background.

Thanks for any thoughts you may have! I look forward to giving and receiving much advice from you all on these boards in the coming weeks and months.

Parizade

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Re: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« Reply #1 on: May 09, 2012, 04:21:05 PM »
Hi frutopia,

First, I think you are a very decent person for taking in your wife's parents. They are fortunate to have a son in law like you.

but...YIKES!

There are several threads across the board that discuss the "tiny home" movement, I think you might benefit from learning more about it. If the parents are with you for some time, consider building them a tiny home in your back yard. Or get an RV they can live in while they are with you. Then you will both have private space to retreat to under stress.


If they don't like the idea of living in a tiny house, build it for yourself and call it your workshop or something. At least you will have a private space to be in when you need it.

Plan some getaways for you and your wife too. If you can't be alone in your home anymore, at least you can be alone with her in a tent or camper for the weekend.

It might actually benefit you financially in the long run if you can stand to live with them. Can they work? Do they qualify for public assistance? Can they cook and clean? Will they be good babysitters if you decide to start a family of your own? What skills do they bring into your house that wouldn't be there otherwise?

If you can't stand to live with them though, you will need to make other arrangements as soon as possible.

gooki

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Re: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« Reply #2 on: May 09, 2012, 06:28:00 PM »
A little story (true) to get started. Locally there were 3 immigrant families none of them are highly paid workers, they went from owning virtually nothing at year 0 to owning three homes at year 10 (one for each family). How they did it. Living together. Buy a house, everyone pools income to repay debt fast. Once house is paid off, rent it out, buy another to live in. Pay off house 2, rent it out as well, buy house 3, pay it off, then split up and live in your individual homes.

The point of the story. Think of it as an opportunity, not a problem.

Since you're relatively young I'll take a stab that your parents in law aren't past retirement age.

I support the idea of finding a way to get some private space within your current living quarters. Also do consider moving houses if you can find something with multiple living spaces(without paying more) and if it simply isn't going to work in your current home.

Parizade suggested building them a tiny home - I'd suggest they build it themselves, with some assistance from you and your wife.

Encourage your parents in law to find work when their legally allowed to (assuming they are capable). Express your desire for them to contribute to your mortgage (or charge rent - I find this weird with family, I prefer to call it contributing to costs, and simply squireling every extra $ they give into your debt) so one day they can be independent in america with the financial freedom you can give them from now being without debt.

Encourage them to take on volunteer work right now. It'll help them adjust to the local culture, and build a level of independence.

And encourage them to teach you something. They're older they'll have some wisdom or skills to share you'll grow your moustache and it'll make them feel great.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2012, 06:31:11 PM by gooki »

gooki

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Re: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« Reply #3 on: May 09, 2012, 06:38:17 PM »
Oh, and if/when you and the wife have kids it'll be a god send to have them living with you.

From a financial perspective having them look after 2 kids from 0-5 (assuming being born 2 years apart) makes 7 years of free child care. So do the maths.

7 years of child care (lets say $1000 a month min) = $84,000
7 years of your wife salary = even more $$$

I hate converting people into $$$ amounts, but the example above is purely there to illustrate that not necessarily a financial burden to have them living with you. Keep positive, keep a good relation ship with them, be smart and it'll all work out.

MacGyverIt

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Re: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« Reply #4 on: May 09, 2012, 06:44:08 PM »
Encourage them to take on volunteer work right now. It'll help them adjust to the local culture, and build a level of independence.

And encourage them to teach you something. They're older they'll have some wisdom or skills to share you'll grow your moustache and it'll make them feel great.
These are incredible ideas! If they cannot work until they have guest visas this will at least provide them time away from the two of you (they may be just as nervous about the living situation!) and provide for them structure and building their resume in the States until they can legally work. Could be an enormous self-esteem builder as well, give them a sense of contributing rather than waiting (for the DHS paperwork.....).

And I second what's been said here earlier, you are a stand-up kind of guy to do this for your in-laws. I'm so sorry to hear about their home town :-(

bogart

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Re: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2012, 07:53:31 PM »
Congratulations on your recent marriage, and on your decision to help your in-laws -- it does sound like it's got some difficult angles, but also the right thing to do.  I hope all involved are able to negotiate it smoothly.

How old are your in-laws?  I'd assume that as recent immigrants they aren't yet legally able to work in the US and I don't know how long it would typically take, nor what the prospects of securing that opportunity is -- can you fill in those details (of course if they are FI this becomes irrelevant, but I'm assuming they are not)?  Is their intent to rent or buy a home of their own, and how does residency status affect those opportunities?  I'd assume landlords, for example, want some sense of a planned mid- to long-term presence (like, a right to be here for at least a year)?  Can they make that sort of commitment at this point, or is everything contingent on the visas?

I think one of my first concerns would be health insurance.  It sounds like you're close enough to the border that they could go back and access whatever care they'd have had access to in Mexico if they need to and it's not an emergency situation, but needing to do so (versus having the option of seeking care in the US) doesn't sound ideal.

How reliant are they on you to negotiate day-to-day living activities?  I'm assuming they likely speak English (and, indeed, that in that region of the US that speaking Spanish may be a viable alternative in many contexts) and have a car, but if either of those assumptions is wrong, that introduces additional layers to negotiate.

frutopia

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Re: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« Reply #6 on: May 09, 2012, 09:08:36 PM »
Thanks to everyone for your ideas! They are really great. Some more background: they are mid-sixties, no major health problems but pretty broken-down bodies from years of hardship and poor nutrition. They have just a few suitcases of clothes and pennies in a bank account. They speak no english. They have another relative or two within a 30 minute drive, and my wife is their only child. They are dependent on us for virtually everything.

The biggest issue so far is that we, my wife and I, are their only source of entertainment. Their vision isn't good enough for real reading, we don't have television channels, and they sit at home all day waiting for us to return from work. When we do, I just want to unwind and they just need human interaction. So I'm definitely going to look into nurturing some hobbies and volunteer work for them. We actually live in a pretty Hispanic neighborhood in a very Hispanic-friendly city. They speak NO English, so finding activities will take some research but should be quite possible.

I'm also looking for bicycles (probably a tricycle for my MIL) so they can roll around the neighborhood and pick up groceries, etc. They are indeed very helpful around the house, cooking, cleaning and working in the yard while we're at work. But they need more fulfilling activities.

The language barrier makes it difficult for me to really get to know who they are and what they like to do. I might feel less overwhelmed if we could communicate our feelings well. But I'm dusting off my university spanish very quickly, which is another great benefit to having them around. Between their help around the house and the "spanish lessons" they do provide a lot of benefits. Once I help them diversify their activities, it will provide my wife and I some more alone time. I'm also really looking forward to getting them on a healthy diet for likely the first time in their lives, and seeing how this improves their daily experience.

I feel like this all came out in a jumble but this is how it's going through my head.

gooki

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Re: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« Reply #7 on: May 09, 2012, 09:17:20 PM »
The extra info eliminates a few options, but I think giving it time and gently encouraging them to lead a life outside your home will fix a lot of the issues you currently feel you have.

bogart

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Re: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2012, 10:16:04 PM »
I guess the things that occur to me quickly are that (a) it might be worth it to pay (!!!) for tv / channels for the early time they are with you, if that provides them with another, and accessible, source of (some) connection/interaction, and (b) no idea of your, or their, links to such things, but a mid- to large-sized church (or other house of worship, as applicable) with a Spanish-speaking congregation might be a good place for them to start becoming more integrated into the local community.  Obviously (b) is contingent on that being part of their values and expectations.

Daley

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Re: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2012, 10:53:50 PM »
As much as I dislike the idea of television as a "babysitter" or a clear and omnipresent influence in life, Bogart's idea might not be the worst thing in the world and might even help some with the transitional culture shock. I wouldn't recommend aiming for the free equipment, install and two year contract but instead paying for install (or installing yourself) and buying the equipment used outright so you're on month to month and can sell the equipment after... but perhaps consider subscribing to Dish Latino's México package which is local stations, the public interest and a decent selection of Spanish stations for $20 a month or Básico for $23 a month and get a single receiver that can do dual output. It's probably one of the cheapest Spanish television packages you'll get if your OTA digital reception isn't that great, but a big set of rabbit ears and a UHF loop is going to be far cheaper than a subscription to Dish. Try that first.

I also second a local congregation with a large Hispanic population if they're down with that idea.

Best of luck and good health to you, your wife and your in-laws frutopia. You're doing a noble and wonderful thing here.

Arbor33

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Re: Advice: Moving Parents Into Your House
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2012, 04:50:17 AM »
I know the overall goal is to provide them with a safe and healthy place to live but what's next?

You said that they'd eventually be working once their visas came through but why do they want to work? Are they expecting to live with you and your wife indefinitely or are they trying to reestablish themselves and get out of your hair sooner?

I think you guys need to set some clear checkpoints. They (and you) need to decide whether they want to own, rent, or contribute towards your current home and to what extent they want to assimilate.

Definitely let them do some work for you though. Just some small things around the house that'll help to keep all of you sane. Mow the lawn, wash some dishes, maybe some painting, or whatever else needs doing. It'll help keep them busy and cut you some slack on being their only form of entertainment.

Good luck! You're doing the right thing!