Ever had the fleeting thought that it might be a good idea to share a property with, or live next door to your parents, in-laws, or siblings? Well, perhaps it’s time to put that fleeting thought aside and get realistic. Living next door to family members might not be quite as magical as you imagined, and I will tell you why.
You can love your family and in-laws to bits, but the reality is that living with them or next to them can be a bad idea. If you are considering becoming neighbors with your family members or in-laws, take the following reasons into account.
12 reasons why family members might not be great neighbors:
1. You are always on call 24/7.
Yup, you better believe it! When you live far away from your family members, you can put off answering a call or reading a message when you have your plate full – you can get round to it later. When you live right next door to your family, ignoring calls and messages will only result in an unwanted or inconvenient visit. If you don’t want to be constantly available to your family, choose to live elsewhere.
2. No privacy.
When you live next door to strangers, you get to be private about your life without the neighbors taking offense. It’s just natural. You can build a wall, grow a strategically placed creeper plant, or even socialize in the back yard, and your neighbors won’t take it to heart. Do the same thing when you live next door to your family members and expect them to take offense. Also, if you have an argument with your partner, you better keep your voice down, unless you want your family members to know all about it!
3. Interference in your relationship.
It doesn’t take family or in-laws to make relationships challenging, does it? When you have your family members right next door, you or your partner may be tempted to confide personal issues when there’s a fight, and the need to escape arises. Where more convenient to go than right next door, right? This puts your relationship at risk as when the anger quells, your family will have already formed their opinions and thoughts on the situation.
Relationship interference is a typical problem that arises from living right next door to family or in-laws. If you feel that you can still keep your relationship private while living in close proximity to your family, you are wrong! (at least that’s my personal experience).
4. High risk of unexpected and unannounced visits.
Have you ever arrived home from a long day at work and want nothing more than to just put your feet up, pour a drink and relax undisturbed, but the opportunity never arises because of frequent visitors? Ever just wanted to laze in the sun on a Saturday afternoon but get interrupted by an unexpected visitor? Well, this could be your life if you move next door to your family members.
Family members are far less polite with appropriate visiting hours than your friends might be. Because they are family, they often tend to feel that they can come over for a visit at any time of the day or night. This might be nice and convenient…but over time, it could become annoying.
5. Family may place unrealistic expectations on you as a neighbor.
As neighbors, your family might expect you to put in more time and effort than a regular neighbor would. Let’s think about a hedge that’s growing over the fence. If you didn’t know the neighbors, you might contact them to discuss the issue and come up with a solution that works for both parties. When you live next door to family, you can expect to have scuffles over what the right solution is, and there could be upsets if you aren’t able available to attend to the problem immediately.
There’s a lot more scope for upsets when you live next door to family. If you want your neighbors to have realistic expectations of you, don’t live next door to family.
6. Interference in your parenting style/methods.
When raising kids and living next door to family; prepare for there to be some issues. For starters, kids are clever at playing adults up against each other. A great example is your child rushing over to granny and grandpa’s house when you scold or punish him/her. Granny and grandpa might undermine your authority or provide advice that is in disagreement with you. This isn’t necessarily in an attempt to do so, but it can and does often happen.
Family members will have their own ideas and opinions on how a child should be raised, and when you live next door to them, those ideas and opinions may filter over the fence line and into your life. If you can’t avoid living next to family, you may have to set boundaries about what you will accept when it comes to interfering with your parenting style.
7. Minimal chance of getting out of family gatherings/functions.
Not quite feeling up to the barbecue planned at your parent’s house next weekend? Tough luck, you are going to have to attend. You can’t really make up an excuse about being busy as the evidence of you being home will be quite obvious. It would also be rude to say no to an invitation from your family, when you live next door. As you can imagine, this can be quite an uncomfortable situation.
If you want to truly have a life of your own and don’t want to have to report for duty at every single event or function at your family’s home, don’t live next door to family!
8. High risk of judgment.
Family members, whether parents or siblings, will always have their way of doing things – and when you don’t do things in the same way, they can judge you. Think about the way you tend your garden, how many late-night noisy parties you have, who you have visiting, how late your teenage kids stay out at night, which pool cleaning company you hire – and so on. Family members will undoubtedly have their ideas and opinions on these things, and if you don’t fall into line with them, you may very well feel judged and be aware of it.
9. Possibility of your partner feeling uncomfortable (cue relationship issues).
For you, living next door to your parents or your siblings might be a non-issue, but what about your partner? Of course, your partner wants to build a life with you. Spending time with your family can be nice, but also a bit of a stress for your partner who can never truly relax while feeling under their watchful eyes. Unless your partner and your family are genuinely best friends, you might want to consider living somewhere else.
10. No room for you to complain about your neighbors.
If you live next door to strangers and their dog barks all day and night, you can report it without the fear of a problem. If your neighbor is hosting loud parties that go on until 3 am most nights of the week, you can call the cops to deal with them, but you can’t quite do that if it is family, can you? Complaining about the behavior of your neighbors becomes tricky when it’s family – remember that!
11. Familiarity breeds contempt.
There is such a thing as “too much” in life. Too much of anything can become uncomfortable and frustrating. You might love spending time with your family, but you might not want to do that every single day of your life. If you wake up to see your family and see them right up until you go to bed, over-familiarity is going to breed contempt. It might start gradually and build up, but eventually, …it can become a horrible situation for all involved.
12. Things can get too personal.
When living next door to family, you run the risk of them taking your personal life decisions as personal rejections. For instance, if you live in a different neighborhood from your parents and siblings and have a barbecue planned with friends for Saturday night, you won’t necessarily feel like you have to invite them. However, when they live next door to you – if you don’t invite them, they will take the rejection personally.
The above list makes it sound like your family members must be monsters, doesn’t it? Well, that’s not strictly true. Your family members can be the nicest people in the world, and so can you, but that doesn’t mean that living in close proximity can’t cause issues. There’s a reason why you should never start a business or live with those closest to you…it causes unexpected issues to creep up.
Before you move into a house right next door to your family members, take the time to consider the implications for you, your partner, and your kids (if you have them). Living next door to your family comes with some conveniences, but in my personal opinion, it’s a recipe for discomfort.