Should You Move to Be Near Children and Grandchildren?

Of the nearly 70 million grandparents in the United States, 80% of them say that living near their grandchildren is very important to them, according to an AARP study. Yet, further AARP research reveals that over half of grandparents have at least one grandchild who lives more than 200 miles away, and roughly a third live more than 50 miles from their closest grandchild.

Key Questions

Becoming a grandparent can be a game changer. It can be the spark that ignites those who hadn’t previously considered living near their adult children to finally pull up stakes.

But is relocating to be closer to your children and their children a smart move?

As everyone and every situation is different, the answer is, “it depends.” Ultimately, it comes down to the individuals involved, but it’s important to consider the many factors that go into such a monumental decision long before the house goes on the market.

Here are some key questions to ponder before making a move to be closer to your children and grandchildren.

Can You Afford It?

The cost of living in the U.S. (and other countries) varies widely from state to state, even from city to city within each state. Where you live now may be much more, or less, affordable than where your children and grandchildren live. Assuming you will not be moving in with your child’s family (which could incur other, less tangible costs), ask yourself what you are willing to sacrifice to make ends meet in a more expensive area. On the flip side, in a less costly place, what might you gain? A cost calculator can help you compare the cost of living from one area to another.

What Is Your Relationship with Your Adult Child?

This question requires introspection, reflection and total honesty. Your adult child may have been asking you to move closer to them for years, and they’re thrilled that you’re finally considering it! On the other hand, if there has been friction over the years with your adult child, the potential for old wounds and baggage to become magnified in close proximity is high. Adoring your grandchild(ren) may not be enough to sustain an overall healthy family dynamic. As hard as it may be to accept, your child may not want you to live near them. Whatever the case, it is essential to have a candid discussion with all parties involved (including your child’s partner and even older grandchildren) before considering a move to be near them.

Will You Have a Life of Your Own in a New Area?

It’s easy to assume that a move near children and grandchildren will be all you’ll need to fill each day with fun and games. Under the best of circumstances, there will be plenty of that! Nurturing relationships with grandchildren is one of life’s most meaningful endeavors, and many grandparents are happily living near younger ones with whom they have a uniquely special bond. However, as a resident of a new area, you will need – and want – interests and connections outside of your family, and it will likely take some effort to establish a network of your own. Take a good look at the value of the roots you have laid in your current location and ask yourself how willing you are to put them aside for a new adventure.  

What About Your Partner?

If you are not single, it’s crucial that you and your spouse or partner are on the same page about a move to be closer to children. Even if they are as interested in relocating as you are, their health, employment or other needs may require them to remain in your current area. Some couples are able to strike a compromise whereby one person visits family for extended periods of time while the other remains, but regardless of the arrangements you make, it’s important to agree on something that suits you both.

What About Other Children?

Gone are the days when most nuclear and extended family members lived within a few short blocks of one another. Today, it is not uncommon for one’s adult children to live hundreds, if not thousands, of miles apart. If more than one child has children, this can present a dilemma for older parents – whom to live near, and will the choice upset their siblings? Some older adults decide that it’s best to remain where they are and let the children and grandchildren come to them; others have specific reasons for choosing to move near one child over another. Careful consideration of family dynamics, plus open and honest discussions with everyone involved, if possible, are paramount. Ultimately, however, the decision lies with the person(s) making the move, and they should feel free to do what’s best for them without guilt or pressure from others.

How Much Freedom Do You Have to Move Around?

Four in ten grandparents in the U.S. are still working, many of whom are unable to move from their current area. If you remain employed, can you and/or your spouse or partner work remotely from another city? Can you find a new job or retire altogether? Apart from employment considerations, you or your partner may have health or other concerns that limit your ability to adapt to different geography, weather, resources, etc. On the bright side, your child may live in a more temperate, traversable area that would be beneficial to your health and other aspects of daily life.

How Involved Do You Want to Be in Childcare?

Grandparents’ care of grandchildren ranges from full-time care to occasional babysitting while Mom and Dad have a night out to themselves. How involved you wish to be in caring for your grandchildren should be up to you but be honest with yourself and your adult child before you make a move! Some grandparents relish every moment with grandchildren, including the duties of regular childcare, while others prefer less hands-on availability. Adult children should take care not to overtax their parents (after all, they’ve already raised a family!), potentially resulting in feelings of resentment or being taken advantage of. Moving near grandchildren can be a joy for everyone, but expectations and boundaries should be established well in advance.

Is Your Adult Child Likely to Stay Where They Are?

Professionals today are often transferred from job to job, resulting in frequent, sometimes unexpected moves to different locations. Consider Brenda, a widow who followed her younger daughter and grandchildren to North Carolina when her son-in-law was transferred from the family’s hometown of New Orleans. Less than a year later, her son-in-law was transferred to Dubai, which inspired Brenda to move to Orlando, where her older daughter and grandchildren lived. After just a year, her older daughter’s husband was transferred to Dallas, leaving Brenda alone in a strange city for a second time. Her story is a real-life lesson in carefully considering adult children’s career forecasts and long-term prospects before making a move.

What About a Trial Stay or Hybrid Approach?

There are many ways to carve out quality time with faraway children and grandchildren without committing to a permanent move. For some, a mix of staying with children and grandchildren for part of the year and remaining in their own home during the rest is the ideal solution. Others rent or buy an RV and park it near the grandkids with the freedom to come and go as they please. “Skip-gen” trips are popular too, whereby grandparents vacation with grandchildren without their parents. Still others try out an area to sample what living there would be like before committing to a move. Chuck and Lily, for example, spent four months in a Seattle suburb, where their daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons live. Ultimately, they decided the area was too expensive compared to Louisiana, where they both grew up, and they missed their large, extended family back home. For Gerald and Edie, the move from Florida to Colorado required some adjustment, but they remained for the greater reward of developing close bonds with their grandchildren.

What Role Can a Senior Community Play?

“More and more, older adults are looking for a senior living community near their children and grandchildren,” said Maureen Longoria, co-founder of LivNow Relocation, serving senior clients. “Moving into a senior community makes it easy for them to establish new friendships and activities of their own and also be close to family.”

Indeed, a community like Lathrop allows independent singles and couples to live near children and grandchildren and engage with new people and pursuits. In fact, one of the top reasons residents choose Lathrop is because their children and grandchildren live in the area. It’s truly the best of both worlds!

Come live among family, friends and endless possibilities.

Contact us and schedule a tour today!