1. Built in baby sitter that loves the work.
Save $25/month – Since being in China, we got used to our Ayi who watched our children. We probably went on more dates in China than we have in our whole marriage. It was just so easy to get up and go out. Back in Bothell, we have great baby sitters, but we’re always mindful about getting home early enough, and that it costs us money every time we want to go on a date. With mom in the house (and sometimes Grandma (my mom’s mom)), it’s much easier to head out for an evening spontaneously, or attend some events that we normally wouldn’t because we can’t justify paying someone to watch our kids.
2. Great Korean Food, the way it was intended.
Save $25/month– Every time I sit down at a Korean restaurant and pop open the menu, I ask myself what I’m doing there. I get better food for free at my mom’s house. And usually, mom won’t let me leave the table until I need to roll out of my chair like a blimp.
3. Mom can teach the kids Korean
Save $50/week – Our experience in China has definitely taught us that being multi-lingual is a special skill. It draws you closer to nations of people as you understand them and are able to express yourself in their native tongue. Tenille and I have both agonized about how we will teach our kids Korean as we are both not very good. But living with mom, I think our kids will get more exposure to Korean, and it will likely force Tenille and I to both speak more Korean which also will in turn help our kids. There are classes that we can enroll them in, but typically they are on the weekend, and yet another bill to pay. Can’t ask for a better teacher than mom, and best of all, she’ll cut us the mom discount.
4. Rent out the other house and share the utilities.
Save $25,000/year – This was an eye opener for us. We never really seriously considered moving out of our house, but when you start calculating the rental income, utilities such as phone, cable, Internet, water, sewer, garbage, etc…. it adds up very quick. As a family, this move will cut our expenses by more than half. In most of the world, this is probably one of the driving reasons that most households are multi-generational. Whether you like it or not, it makes eye-popping economic sense.
5. Share our lives with a family member we love dearly
Priceless – As we’ve mentioned that we’re planning on moving in with my mom, we’ve found that many families don’t have spectacular relations with their parents. Typically, either the wife or the husband will quickly chime in and say, “Hmm… yeah… we couldn’t do that… “ We feel fortunate that we have a great relationship with my mom. She has always been welcoming to us and supportive of us. Sure, there’s a small concern that living together might create new problems, but for now we’re naive enough to think that the good times we’ll have spending our days and evenings with each other will outweigh any issues that may crop up as a result of living together.
Ask in a months how it’s working out for us. We’ll see if the actual results are as good as the theoretical….
But, perhaps you’re already convinced that maybe this might be the right thing for you and your family also. You might be asking – how does one pull off such a feat? How in the name of all that is good, do you convince your wife that this might actually be a remotely sane idea?! I think the only way this can really be done is to live outside of US/Canada/Europe for an extended period of time. Living in China for 6 months, a few things quickly got deprogrammed out of us.
1. We need a bigger house! – In the U.S., when you’re about to have another baby, it’s not uncommon to hear, “we need more space… another room… etc” In much of the world, children sleep in the same room as their parents until they’re almost teenagers. Many homes are single room shelters that are really only used for sleeping. Also, living in a 900 sq ft apartment in Beijing, we figured out quickly that living in a place that is less than half of the size of our home is not so bad. Moving into my mom’s house will actually give us more space than in Beijing. Not that we need it, but we know we certainly don’t need 500 sq ft per family member. I’m not one that really needs much privacy from my family, and I enjoy all of us being together in the same room.
2. We’ll be losers still living with our parents! – I’m not sure where this mentality came from, but again, most of the world lives in multi-generational households. I don’t mind throwing my lot in with the majority of the population. And it may be because I’m getting older, but I’ve stopped caring what other people think. Frankly, if I could be even “more of loser” for another $25k/year, sign me up. Sign me up a couple times, and I’ll even wear a hat… I have a feeling that this propaganda might have its origins in the real estate industry. I can’t believe our government is paying people to buy their first homes. Despite what your real estate agent tells you, despite what the government tells you, the secret is that most of the world does not feel they need to pay tens of thousands of dollars per year to live away from their parents or risk being labeled a loser.
3. I need my own stuff! – I can certainly understand why we might want our own room… but a rice cooker? a refrigerator? a dining room table? Again, most of the world live in tight communities where people pool in to buy things together and share it within the community. You can sometimes see glimpses of that in the poorer communities in the States, where neighbors have informal agreements and various necessities and conveniences are shared and/or borrowed. We’ve seen one end of the spectrum where bathrooms and faucets are shared within a community. As we get wealthier, we lose a lot of that interdependency as we can pretty much afford anything we need or want. We end up buying things that we use 4 or 5 times a year like boats and swimming pools. (This is an illustrative statement rather than a commentary against those who own boats and swimming pools. Our family also has plenty of things in this category like an Xbox, camper, gardening tools… )
4. I need my privacy! – This was an interesting issue. Tenille ended up finding out that she actually very much enjoyed the company of other adults during the day. Luo, our Ayi, had become a wonderful friend to us and Tenille looked forward to her visit and enjoyed talking with her throughout the day. She much preferred it to her life in the States where she often kept busy, but didn’t always have social contact with friends. She mentioned that if she wouldn’t have had this experience, she wouldn’t have realized that living with another adult during the day could add a different kind of richness to her life. For my mother, my dad passed away 3 years ago, and we hope that having our family in her home will contribute to the richness of her life.
These are not the things we thought we’d learn in China… but we can’t always choose what we want to learn… we just choose what to do with what was given us. We’re looking forward with hope to the next chapter in our lives.
With all that said, one down side is that we’ll be leaving our very good friends in Bothell. We have developed many good friendships through worshipping together, serving together, and just through fellowship. Federal Way is a mere 45-minute drive, so hopefully we’ll have an opportunity to pop in occasionally. And we should note the disclaimer that we’re renting out our house not selling it, so in case our party boat starts taking on water, we still have one foot on the shore…