Ask Someone Else's Mom by Susan Writer

Parents Heading Overseas Debate Charging Rent to Kids

DEAR SOMEONE ELSE’S MOM: Starting in April, my wife and I will be living in Paris for 18 months for a project we’re working on for our business. It’s a tremendous opportunity, and our oldest son and his wife, who have an infant, have offered to move into the house as house sitters to help save themselves rent and bank the savings toward a down payment for a house.

My wife is fine with them living rent-free, but I’m not so thrilled with it. We’ll have extra expenses while we’re abroad, and I’ve heard from coworkers that they’ve charged family members something to stay in their homes in similar circumstances. Why shouldn’t we? --- NO FREE RIDES

DEAR NO FREE RIDES: At the very least, your son and his family should be responsible for all the costs involved in keeping the house going, such as the utilities and any routine maintenance fees. Beyond that, the question of what, or if, to charge is something you and your wife have to settle first between the two of you, and then make very clear to your son and daughter-in-law.

As you’ve probably already done, bear in mind you’ll still have your taxes and homeowner’s insurance to stay on top of, as well as a mortgage, if you have one. Those things add up and need to be taken into consideration.

Even if you and your wife end up charging a modest rent, the young couple should still be saving something, and hopefully you’ll get peace of mind knowing the house is not sitting empty.

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