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Practicalities of living with a friend or family member

There are many practical issues to consider, such as space, expectations of family life and the need for compromise when considering sharing your home.
4 min read
In this article
Is your home and the area you live in suitable? Is everyone happy with potential compromises on space? Do you both have the same expectations? You're not the only one making a compromise
Things may change over time How well do you get on? What happens if it doesn't work? Downsizing checklists

Is your home and the area you live in suitable?

Consider how easily your loved one will be able to move around your 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 friend or family member moving in. For example, will they have their own bathroom, or share one with everyone else? Will this disrupt anyone’s schedule? If it’s feasible, you may think about converting an area of the home into a flat, which would allow everyone to have their own space while also having the option of being together at times.

Do you both have the same expectations?

Daily life often varies from home to home, and can vary according to whether you’re sharing a home with extended family or with friends. Consider if your expectations of day-to-day life match those of your loved one. For example, will everyone eat together at meal times or is that not the usual way in your home? Will they be able to watch their favourite TV programmes at the times they want to or will this compete with the times you usually sit down to watch TV? If this is the case, it may be a good idea for your loved one to have a TV in their own room.


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

You're not the only one making a compromise

You may feel that you’re the one being asked to make compromises to your lifestyle, but bear in mind that your loved one 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.

Having a parent move in with you is a very big step.

Things may change over time


The person you’re supporting 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’re not able to give? These changes may seem a long way ahead now, but it’s 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.

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How well do you get on?

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

What happens if it doesn't work?

However carefully you plan and consider this move, and however confident you feel about the arrangements, you can’t discount the possibility that things won’t 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 loved one from the outset. What would the next step be – for example, would they move into a retirement village or sheltered housing? Are these options available in your area or would they need to move further away?

Downsizing checklists

Moving to live with family or a friend might mean that you're downsizing and maybe also moving to another area. Download our downsizing checklists for ideas about what to consider.

Downsizing checklists
(pdf 49 Kb)

Further reading


We explain what cohousing is, how communities work and the pros and cons for older people living in such a community.

Last updated: 06 Sep 2019