House Hacking?

I recently blogged about going back to work post-FIRE and mentioned consolidating households. I didn’t realize the strong response I’d get about that. I thought I’d get a stronger reaction to going back to work. Because of the response I thought it appropriate to write a little about us moving in with my mother-in-law.

First I’ll tell you more about why we decided to do this and then a little about the process. When we started on this path to FIRE we had no idea what the end goal would look like. At the time all I knew was that I hated my job and the economy was wrecked due to the Great Recession. So in talking to Jeff about our why for doing it, a few things came out of that talk. We didn’t want to continue working jobs we hated; we didn’t want to feel financially insecure; we wanted to travel more; and we wanted to spend more time with family.

Most of the goals we stated started to come true before we hit FI. Like halfway I quit a job that made me unhappy because we had enough F-you money set aside. Then as time has passed and our savings grew the financial insecurity subsided. This feeling of stability and security allowed us to start traveling more. But because we were still working we didn’t have a lot of free time to spend with family.

The lack of free time to spend with family really hit home when Jeff’s father wasn’t doing so well. We wanted more than anything to be able to help his mom more and just simply be available more. Even though we were so close to FIRE we just weren’t close enough to offer as much help as we’d liked to. His father has since passed and that’s time we can’t get back. But that doesn’t have to be the case now and we can use our freedom to be there to help his mom. This is the why we are doing this.

The how or the process of combining our households is a journey unto itself. I feel like nothing about our transition to FIRE has been smooth. We didn’t have a set date to hit FIRE nor a concrete plan on how we’d transition either. Honestly our transition has been a hot mess. Our loosely thought out plan was to retire closer to the same time in the middle of this year. But then I unexpectedly retired in February and Jeff’s retirement was pushed back to September of this year. During this time the economy has declined enough to indicate a possible recession and I personally decided that I wanted to work again.

I knew our end goal was to be in Boone where Jeff’s mom lives and a position that caught my interest in Boone opened up so I applied. What I didn’t expect was such a quick response from them. It felt like I applied then a week later I was hired. I am now living in Boone and Jeff is still back home working, which is about a hour and half away. We’ll continue to live separately for the next month or so until he can move up here. This part of the process sucks… a lot.

We are not under any illusion that combining households will be easy. I mean you are taking two different familial units and creating a new one. A few things that make our situation easier are both units want to live together, both are financially independent, and the house has enough room for everyone to have privacy. There will be things that come up that we’ll need to work through but being together is more important than any issues that come up.

I’ve also been asked what we’ll do about our house in Mount Holly. Honestly we still don’t know what the long term plan is for that house. In the short term we have a friend that’s a flight attendant who suggested we open one of the bedrooms as a crash pad. So beginning this weekend we have two people who will be sharing a bedroom as a crash pad for $750 per month. They both live in different cities and they commute to Charlotte for work. They will use one of the guest rooms as a crash pad between flight segments. This arrangement is month to month and also pays half of our expenses for maintaining the house. This gives us time to figure out what to do with the house and access to it without the full expense.

I hope this answers some questions about why and how we are doing this. I will be sure to give updates along the way. It will be interesting to see if emotions or privacy issues will come up that affect the mutual benefits of the arrangement and how we handle them.

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