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Should I Move In?


I want to move in with my father to help him out.  Do you think I should pay rent, or should Dad pay me? What is the usual arrangement?


There is no usual in this situation.  

There are a variety of ways to approach moving in with your father to help him out.  I am assuming that your father needs care of some sort (e.g., meal preparation, bathing, or maybe even walking).  Assisting with these daily living activities is very important and can provide him a great deal of security.

There are situations where children just move in with minimum planning. The least amount of planning up front will result in the most amount of grief on the back end, especially if you have siblings.  Even if you are without siblings, and your father is planning to leave all of his money to you, planning is still important.

I would recommend that you gather your father and siblings for a discussion about what you and your father are thinking, as it relates to you moving in.

Prior to that meeting, find out the cost of renting a room with a kitchen in his area.  If that is too difficult, you may need to settle for the cost of a one bedroom apartment comparable in quality to that of your father’s home, subtracting a little bit.  Agree to pay for the increased utility costs that your father will incur. (Believe me, there will be increases in his costs.)

Then determine what care or services you are going to provide for your father, and estimate the time conservatively.  (People tend to exaggerate, so be realistic.) For instance, if you are going to help him with a weekly bath, count thirty minutes of time for that.  For tasks that you do for both your father and yourself (e.g., laundry, meal preparation, and cleaning), allow thirty minutes for laundry, maybe an hour for the extra meal preparation, and an hour for cleaning.  You can verify these estimates by timing yourself.  

Be honest. 

If Dad is preparing the meals for the two of you, I suggest subtracting time for his service.  It works both ways, you know.  If you are sharing food and Dad is paying, factor in your monthly spend at the grocery store. 

Before you meet, type the list, or print a spreadsheet.  I suggest $15 per hour for your service and the same for your father’s tasks.  Include the rent you would be paying, and total it up.  See where you land.  When you have the tasks listed and totaled on paper, share with a trusted, objective individual for a "reality test."

Now you are ready for the conversation with the family. I realize that it sounds very business-like, and it is.  Whenever money is involved, emotions escalate, so this is the time to be business-like. 

I wish you success.