Living Near Your Children…Bonus or Bad Move?

Written by Allen Unrau

livenearHalf a century ago most families stayed in the same area. You lived your life in close proximity to most of your relatives. Children would marry and move away from home. This “moving away from home” usually meant a few miles or at most it may have been the next town where they established their roots.

There is an old Dutch proverb that says: “A happy new home is one where you can’t see the smoke from your parent’s chimney.”  That may be true, but everyone you knew lived within an hour of each other.

Things changed dramatically in the last half of the century and Canadian families are now spread out geographically.

Children went to the city for further education and never returned to the area where they grew up.  Maybe they met their future husband or wife and ended up moving across the country when they married.  Good jobs required moves and relocation if you wanted to move up the ladder.  Transfers moved families all over this country.  You’ve done your best to keep in touch, but it’s just not been the same as living near your family.  Some of your grandchildren are already as tall as you and you don’t feel you really know them as well as you would like to.

Retirement gives you a lot of choices

Should you stay where you are or have you always wanted to move closer to your children and grandchildren? Do you know for sure that they want you closer to them?  Will you be able to make new friends when you move or will you be relying totally on your family for the relationships you need in your life?

Will you end up becoming a baby sitter, cook, cleaner and gardener for your adult children?  Maybe you can’t wait to be able to help them out, but you need to consider these things in advance.

What about your son-in-law or daughter-in-law?  How do they feel about having you closer?  Have you been open with each other and talked through all the issues in advance?  Do they have blended families and how will you grandparent role fit with stepchildren?

Maybe you are moving because of guilt. You feel that you haven’t spent enough time with them or they want you near because they feel guilty about not having made enough effort to get together with you in the past.  Adult children and their parents sometimes play games with each other.  Adult children may send messages they feel their parents want to hear or messages that will not upset their parent, rather than what is true.  So, be careful and above all be honest with each other before you pull up stakes.

What if you follow the kids and they don’t have time for you?

Remember, their life is probably a balancing act right now.  They are responsible for many things and many people and their schedule may be very full!  You probably have expectations about the help you would like from them at this stage of your life.  Can they meet your expectations and will it be a joy or a burden for them?

“Knowing what it would be like” is often difficult to achieve without “actually doing it.”  If you move, you would be wise to arrange for help from other sources for some of your needs so as not to rely totally on your family and overwhelm them. Make it a comfortable transition for everyone involved.

Do you get the feeling they want you closer?

If so, you are the most fortunate person in the world!  Seize the opportunity…family is everything!

Article © Allen Unrau, used with permission


217 Responses to “Living Near Your Children…Bonus or Bad Move?”

  • Chris says:

    Angela….so sorry you are strugging…the plain truth is that there is nothing in this world guaranteed except what God controls. even the best families will have problems and eventually end either through death or seperations of distance and time but the one family and life that wont end is with jesus our lord and savior and his people. for more information on knowing jesus and his family of faith log onto or click talk to a mentor above. praying you find the peace you need as you give yourself and your loved ones to christ. blessings!

  • Angela says:

    Im a mom, newly single, my kids are 4,6 and 9.. My parents and I have had the typically latch key kid relationship of my generation. We barley spent time with each other despite living together until I was twenty. No family vacations, weekend activities, sports etc. I met each set of grandparents twice and only occasionally spoke on the phone. My brother no longer speaks to my parents. Now at twenty nine I am pondering moving closer to them. However my motivation isn’t really to spend time with them.
    I just hope when my kids are grown they will remain a part of my life. I hope that when they have children I will be there to give advice, or just a shoulder to lean on. I want to set a good example and attempt to give my children family values that my brother and I never had. Is there any research on if kids who grow up close to their grand parents remain close to their parents when they age? I just feel like if I follow my parents lead and exile my children from their grand parents then I will most likely end up in the same boat myself in the future.

  • Virginia says:


    You must make the choice that you feel most comfortable with. Welcome or forced don’t read into your son’s invitation. If he feels you’re appreciation he will loving help you. However, if he feels you are taking him for granted he will become resentful.
    Instead look for housing near your son that is closest to your price range if you are unable to find something near him you can afford offer him a similar arrangement as you currently have. Relationships are strongest when benefits go both ways.

  • Alfred says:

    Hi Lindy, In listening to your story and praying about it, I feel that a visit (with your daughter) to see this boyfriend in Texas would be in order. Then all 3 of you can get a feeling of what the future may hold. I’d say that it could be a relief to get away from someone who’s got different life-style views than you do.
    That leads me to the question of how close you and your daughter are to God, and whether you are led by the Holy Spirit. I would encourage you to read the Bible (alone as well as together). Is your boyfriend in Texas is a Christian, if you don’t mind me asking?
    I’ll be watching this site to look for your response.
    Praying for you, Alfred.

  • Lindy says:

    Living in Washington state, after i got out of a 20 year marriage, I contacted an old boyfriend who lives in Texas. Sparks flew, and I respect his virtues and lifestyle, but I never persued the relationship because I didnt want to uproot my daughter at 16 years of age, also I have one other adult child that lives here. Then I met a man here in my town that has been very good to me, my daughter and I moved in with him to make bills and life easier. I found out after a short time he has some narcissist, bipolar, tendencies and different lifestyle views from mine that have made me not like him as much as I should. So I contacted my ex boyfriend who has been very supportive and loving at what ever situation I choose. I would really like to see what life would be like to be with him, but I dont know that my daughter would share the same views. I am so confused at what I should do. She could go with me if she wanted to but she loves where we live and the man I live with would probably let her stay with him for a while but he might not be real happy with me for leaving him. I am afraid she wont want to go. Should I stay here for her or leave.

  • Cindy says:

    Good article. Love my family but feel in the long run all would be happier if we all stay independent on our own not to mention we all have our own way of doing things and all have a right to privacy with our airing out the laundry. Parents are happy to know their adult children are well off and they do not have to care for their parents. With today’s planes, trains, and buses we have the ability to visit. Keeping in touch through text and Facebook is the same as being there for full life adult children these days. We are comfortable on the thought of moving to a low income senior high rise.

  • Sue says:

    Aldo—we let fear drive us. My husband’s father died of cancer at the age of 68–the age my husband is now and there is also a history of stroke on his side of the family. We know we may need help some time down the line, but my husband and I are in good health now. We have four grown children with families and they all live in different parts of the country. We can’t possibly live near all of them. I just wish we had followed our dream—we could always move closer to family later. We don’t want to move across the country—just further south in Florida. I just wish we had not let our son badger us into living in this boring little town. There is nothing to do. As far as the grandchildren go, I barely know them. They are my son’s step children and I only saw them twice before we moved here.

  • Aldo says:

    Sue, there definitely are advantages and disadvantages to living in close proximity to your children, but with so many variants which will influence the outcome. For instance, what is the health and well-being of each person; what is the loyalty and attachment of each to the other; what are each’s likes and dislikes; etc?

    My family is a really close-knit one. So much so, that our daughter has often said that neither mom nor dad will ever go into a nursing home, but that she would take care of us should that day ever come. Some time ago my wife suffered a stroke and now needs a reasonable amount of care. At present I am able to provide that care, but it is nice to know that if I was not able, mom would be cared for by a loved one.

    We enjoy time with our children, grand children, and great grand children tremendously, and they enjoy being with us as well. We look forward to the time when all encumbrances of being together will be removed.

  • Sue says:

    Do not listen to this advice. I did and I regret it. We had always wanted to retire in central or south Florida especially after living up north for many years, but out son lives in the northern part of the state and wanted us to live near him. The town he lives in is small with nothing to do. Also it is 30 miles from the beach. The summers are extremely hot and it gets cold in the winter. The town is full of rednecks with a confederate flag flying in the town square. We should have rented here, but our son convinced us we should purchase a home. I had my reservations from the start, but my husband went along with everything my son said, so now we are stuck in a boring little town with nothing to do. Also my son and his wife are constantly fighting and hit us up for money all the time. The moral of my story is—-do what you want to do, not what your kids want you to do. Its your life, not theirs.

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