Should Parents Help Pay for a House?

It’s hypocritical of me to cringe when my boyfriend suggests that one day his mother might help us purchase a house. After all, my parents put me through college and didn’t require I pay back one cent. But, based on what they taught me, once college was done I was on my own. Want to go to grad school? That’s all on me. Want to go on a shopping spree and put myself into massive debt? My problem. Want to buy a house? Good luck and good riddance!

That’s why my nose chinches up when, in response to my commonly voiced concern — how are we ever going to afford a house to live in here — my boyfriend said “my mom will help.”

His mom — who lives in her own mother’s house and has never owned a car or paid for rent in her life — has accumulated a sizable savings. I’m not sure how much exactly, but it’s enough to pay for my boyfriend’s college, grad school and… perhaps the downpayment on our future home. That whole scenario makes me feel awkward. First of all, she should actually be spending her own money to improve her personal living situation. Secondly, we should, as adults, be working towards being able to support ourselves without the help of anyone else.

Of course with both of our parents… one day… in the long, distant future, they would pass on their inheritances to us and any money remaining would be ours anyway (and he’s a single child or parents who were never married so there’s no question of who the funds would go to) — I just want us to be able to make it on our own without help. I mean, it’s great to have help as a backup plan should we be desperate. But I don’t want it to be the plan.

I love my boyfriend more than anything in the world and he makes me incredibly happy. The part of the scenario where I get nervous about him being in his 30s now and just now planning to return to graduate school to obtain a career in the low-paid profession of teaching should be offset by the reality that his mother could maybe help us afford one of these $1.5M starter homes when we want to have a family in a few years. I should see that as a plus.

In fact, about one-fourth of all first-time home buyers receive some down-payment assistance from relatives, most commonly, parents, according to a National Association of Realtors survey of people who purchased homes from July 2011 to June 2012.

But it just feels like a cop out. Like all of my work to be independent FINALLY and have my own savings would be reversed. And, as much as I appreciate a man who offers to help his mom out every now and again, he’d be forever indebted to her, versus fully independent. I move 3000 miles away from my parents so I could prove to myself that I could make it on my own, as an adult. I do not want to revert.

Then again, life isn’t at all fair and it is what it is. Some people are born into money. Some people aren’t. Some marry for love. Some for money. Others manage to find both or none. You can’t buy happiness but you can be sure not being able to pay the bills won’t bring contentment. And here I am, trying so hard to figure out how to have some sort of stable, happy, independent life, and all I get from my partner is the answer that he’s not worried because his mom will help us out.

Ok, so if he really becomes a teacher – where the starting salary here is $53k, it seems – I should accept all the help we can get. Sure, I make $110k now but that probably won’t last. With my mental illness issues I’ll be extremely lucky if I can maintain this until I have kids. And then what? How am I going to be able to handle the stress of being a mother, the primary breadwinner, and just the daily existence of bipolarity? The answer is I probably won’t. Something will give.

Now, we can definitely move out of the bay area and afford a reasonable life with him as a teacher and me as some mid-level marketing executive somewhere. We’ve briefly talked about moving to another city, really any other city, to afford a decent life and home. It’s not out of the question.

Still, that doesn’t change how I am bothered by his lack of concern over accepting the funds from his mother to buy a house, versus wanting to earn this money himself. It isn’t the actual accomplishment or lack thereof that bothers me, it’s the lack of desire to do so. That’s what bothers me most. I’ve saved $250k faking my way through life, convincing people that I add value for long enough to add to my investment accounts in stretches between depression and depression. Yes, I’ve been privileged and got out of school with no debts but so did he. And he graduated from a much more prestigious school.

I’m trying really hard to not care about him and to focus on myself right now. It’s not my place to judge him or his choices. I can also refuse to accept help from his mother for a home in the future, but that might be stupid. In any case, I’m supposed to stop worrying about the future, but it’s really challenging right now as I’m 30 and if my boyfriend does go to graduate school next year I’ll be 33 by the time he finishes. If we want to have a kid… or more than one kid… well, it’s going to be harder then. And he’ll just be starting out at the entry-level teaching salary. It’s fine, people make these types of arrangements work all the time. I just can’t figure out how to balance being practical and planning versus being overly neurotic, anxious, and freaked out about the next 10 years of my life.

 

 

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7 comments

  1. hereverycentcounts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    The difference is that an inheritance is what is left over after our parents have lived their lives. It’s up to them how much they want to spend during this time. One never knows if a parent will live a long and healthy life or not, but regardless this money should always be there for them in case they need it. I don’t think it’s appropriate to be gifted this money in advance unless you come from a very wealthy family where it’s clear the parents will always have enough to live on. I could see borrowing money from the parent and paying it back with interest, I’m more open to that then accepting the money as a gift.

    1. TJ says:

      You seem to be judging your boyfriend’s mother’s lifestyle and spending habits. if she wants to help her son, future daughter-in-law, and future grandchildren, that is her choice, and for you to be too proud to reject it, when you are obsessed with the upper middle class lifestyle, is completely illogical. Wouldn’t you rather help your children while you are alive rather than have them wait for you to croak? Wouldn’t you rather help your grandchildren while you are alive? If his mother ends up needing financial support later on in life, then you can worry about that then and figure that out as a family. Furthermore, if she needed support and didn’t help you out, wouldn’t you feel just as obligated to help?

      There’s no shame in taking advantage of opportunities available to you

      1. hereverycentcounts ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

        I’m not sure. I certainly see your point. She needn’t be living an extravagant lifestyle now. But the woman is miserable. She lives in a house that is falling apart and stuffed with trash. She needs mental health help so she can move out and to take any money from her that prevents her from doing this feels wrong. Even if she wants to do this.

        On the other hand, I feel like when you have an easy out you’re less motivated to make money yourself. There is no reason we can’t be making more money and afford the home on our own. I’d be ok with his mother buying a place and us paying her rent, not her gifting it to us.

  2. The thing I’d be concerned about is that you and he would not be able to do the same for your future children. The wealth basically disappears in one generation.. although the saying says in 3 generations it is gone.

    *shrug* If my parents wanted to help me with a home I wouldn’t say no if they were well off and actually truly wanted to do it.

    Otherwise I am good either way, with or without their money, and that’s the key.

  3. eemusings (NZMuse) says:

    You know, I also cringed when my mum suggested they buy a house and rent it to us (rent to buy kinda thing). I’m pretty proud and independent – but I also really want a house of my own, and the Auckland market is almost as insane as the SF one, so really, I’m not too proud to accept her help if that’s an option. I know, it feels like a copout, but that’s how badly I want this. And yeah, everyone else I know has had parental help getting into their first houses.

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