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Selling the Family House, part 2

Whether to sell the family home and how to handle the adult children’s reaction are a much-discussed issues among aging baby boomers. Two friends recently took different approaches. One friend with three adult children sold her suburban family home and moved to a two-bedroom apartment in the city. The message to the adult children was clear: We are moving onto the next chapter in our lives and while you are welcome to visit, your home is now elsewhere. Another friend with two adult children also sold his suburban home and moved to a three-bedroom apartment in the city.  The message to his emerging adult children: Come join us in our adventure.  

In “One Door Opens, Another Closes” New York Times columnist Michelle Slatalla relates how she downsized to a two-bedroom house to cut expenses.  Her three daughters, including one living at home, did not exactly cheer the decision. Slatalla writes,

They say it’s a natural part of becoming an adult, when you start to realize—gradually—that the house where you grew up isn’t where you live anymore.  You begin to understand that the phrase “childhood home” actually means the place where people tried their best to prepare you for your own life.

That might have been the strategy with previous generations.  But Gen Y emerging adults take a long time to leave and when they do there’s not much room in that fifth floor walkup for all the “stuff” accumulated during their childhood. Plus going “home” on the occasional weekend is like going on vacation complete with a stocked refrigerator, clean towels and deck chairs in the backyard.

Many friends have opted to wait hoping that by the time the housing market rebounds, at least one or two of the “kids” will be married with their own “real” homes with a few babies crawling around. The only problem when the time comes to sell it dealing with all the memorabilia in the attic. But that’s another story.

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