With a change of living arrangements it will be much easier to adjust if everyone concerned has an understanding of what will be involved.

On this page you can find the following series of practicalities that you should consider if you plan to live with a relative:

1. Is your home and the area you in live in suitable for your relative?
2. Is everyone happy with potential compromises on space?
3. Do you and your relative have the same expectations of family life?
4. Are you both prepared for compromises?
5. Are you ready for things to change in the future?
6. How well do you get on with your relative?
7. What happens if plans don't work out?

Is your home and the area you live in suitable for your relative?

Consider how easily your relative will be able to move around the home, for example, if there are steep staircases. Is the home easy for them to get to and from, and are there good facilities nearby? Will they be able to have a social life of their own in the new area?

Is everyone happy with potential compromises on space?

Before you make a decision, consider every room in the house and how it may be affected by your relative moving in. For example, will they have their own bathroom, or share one with everyone else? Will this disrupt anyone’s schedule? If it is feasible, you may think about converting an area of the home into a flat, which would allow all family members their own space while also having the option of being together at times.

Do you and your relative have the same expectations of family life?

Family life often varies from home to home, even within one extended family. Consider how your expectations will match and vary from those of your relative. For example, will everyone eat together at meal times, or is that not the usual way in your home? Will your relative be able to watch all of their favourite TV programmes, or will this compete with the TV your family usually watches? If this is the case, it may be a good idea for your relative to have a TV in their own room.

When you and your relative go on a family holiday, will you include your relative? If you entertain friends in the home, will this be affected by your relative's living arrangements? As well as considering these things individually, it is a good idea to discuss them with the rest of your family so any other concerns and practicalities can be raised. 

You are not the only one making a compromise

You may feel that you are the one being asked to make compromises to your lifestyle, but bear in mind that your relative would also be undertaking a major change to theirs – and perhaps more so. After all, you will carry on living in your own home, whereas they will be giving up theirs (and perhaps also moving away from local friends). Do not underestimate how hard this might be for them; at the very least, it should help to put things into perspective.

Things may change over time

'Having a parent move in with you is a very big step.' Geoff's story

Your relative is likely to undergo changes over the years. These changes may affect their physical or mental wellbeing, or their level of social activity; you may even find that their personality or mood changes.

How will these changes affect your living arrangement? For example, might there come a point when they need a certain level of care that you are not able to give? These changes may seem a long way ahead now, but it is not impossible that they will happen much sooner than you anticipate. Of course, you can't plan ahead for every eventuality, but be prepared to review the arrangement if circumstances change.

How well do you get on with your relative?

While certain TV adverts would have us believe that all families live in a state of ongoing blissful harmony, sadly this isn't always the case. If you have a difficult relationship with your relative at the best of times, it isn’t likely to improve if they come to live with you. Be honest with yourself and realistic in your expectations of how things would, or could, change under the new arrangement.

If you are uncertain about how well things might work out, perhaps you and your relative could agree to a trial period. This would only be appropriate if there were other options readily available, or if your relative is prepared to go back to their previous home in the event that things didn’t work out.

What happens if plans don’t work out?

However carefully you plan and consider this move, and however confident you feel about the arrangements, you cannot discount the possibility that things will not work out. That is unlikely to be anyone’s fault – remember that this will be a new arrangement for everyone, and no one can see the future before it happens.

This situation will be much easier to deal with if you have agreed a back-up plan with your relative from the outset. What would the next step be – for example, would they move into a retirement community or sheltered accommodation? Are these options available in your area or would they need to move further away?

More information

Page last reviewed: 31 January 2016
Next review due: 30 September 2017