Closer to the kids is OK, but take care

I recently received an email from a reader who was moving out of the area. It sounded like a move many of us have considered at some time in our lives in order to be "closer to our kids." She was clearly full of mixed emotions about it.

At the risk of sounding harsh, I reject the idea — not completely — but almost.

Let me begin by affirming that I adore our three children and their spouses and all the progeny who have resulted from their unions. I even love the grand-dogs. (Except for the Portland-based pooch that ate my favorite leather shoe — him, not so much. Although he left his favorite small, rubber toy in the gummed and mangled toe of my shoe, and I have to admit, it was endearing.)

But let's stay with the topic. Permanently relocating in the immediate vicinity of our adult children beckons me minimally. I have really thought about this and even tested the concept. I can see living in the same city, but not close enough to drop in without calling first.

Maybe we see this differently. This column has been developed to spur discussion on an important topic.

A temporary "helping out" during the baby's first year, or in-residence child care while frustrated parents take a break — of course. Taking select grandchildren into our home for an entire summer — that could work. Having our children or grandchildren move in with us temporarily if their financial situation requires it? As necessary, I would assuredly do that.

But this I know. In preparation for the final decades of life, I want to do everything I can to live independently. And I want it to be a place my family looks forward to visiting. I am more likely to have that option available to me if I start planning now. A recent AARP survey recently done in Southern Oregon emphatically affirms this is what most of us want. See, which offers ideas about this issue.

Whether you share my desire for independence or just want to ensure the best possible living situation and be closer to your oldest daughter and her family, now is the time to think about how that might look and review the choices involved.

The website poses the question: "Should You Move Closer?" Three aging couples talk about their decisions, how they made them and why. The site references a 2002 AARP survey that said 80 percent of grandparents want to be closer to their grandkids.

If I had completed that survey I would have been one of the respondents in the 80 percent category. I want to be "closer," I just don't want to live next door on a forever-and-ever basis.

If you are contemplating a move, here are a few key questions to ask:

  • Is your child or his/her spouse likely to have a job relocation in the near future?
  • Are their frequent moves every two to three years likely?
  • How difficult would the move be in terms of your lost friendships?
  • Do you make new friends easily?

Ask yourself lots of questions. Think through all the options. Make an informed choice and then fully embrace the decision you've made.

Onward. Always.

Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at 541-261-2037 or

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