My boyfriend’s parents are deceased and left him their house that he wants me to move into with him. Technically, it belongs to his two sisters as well, but they don’t want it for themselves — they have beautiful homes. The problem is the house is a huge museum to his parents, his siblings, a deceased brother, etc. It has great bones, but it hasn’t been remodeled since it was built in the 70s and needs to be completely updated. There are antiques everywhere (some of which are beautiful and we could keep them), artificial flowers, linoleum floors, no bathtubs and old bathrooms and appliances. When I say it needs updating, my boyfriend feels I’m putting down his parents’ taste. He also feels that everything in it has value there’s no reason to get rid of it. There are also the happy memories he has for the house so he likes it the way it is.
The house will also always belong to him and if something happens to him it will go to his children, who also want this house someday. So, this house will never be my home. I’m scared to move in because I want to feel a sense of belonging when I live in a home and that the home is a reflection of me, too. We have a house that we have lived in for three years that I love but now it has been sold. We have to move out by October. I think we should move into a home that can belong to both of us, and not just one of us, but he has already decided that he wants to move into his parents’ home. He talks about how we will fix it up a little but doesn’t want to spend a lot because it won’t be worth it for the value. I, however, believe that any remodeling we do is only an asset for his children or other relatives who may inherit the house. What do you think? — Ghosts in the Attic
I think you should absolutely not move into your boyfriend’s dead parents’ house under the current conditions he’s provided. Relationships are all about compromise and nowhere are the compromises bigger than in a couple’s home — where they live, where they put down roots. If your boyfriend is unable to make some compromises when it comes to living in his parents’ house — and I mean bigger ones than just swapping a couple throw pillows or changing the hardware on the kitchen cabinets — you should find your own place to live. You will be much, much better off living alone — even if that means ending your relationship — than setting a precedent with your boyfriend that his way is the law.
If you do move in with him under the current conditions, there’s the issue that you’ll be living in a home that your boyfriend’s two sisters have 2/3 ownership of. Do they have as much interest in keeping it in the family as your boyfriend? What happens if they suddenly decide they want to sell the place and split the profits? Or, what if one or both of them want to sell the place but your boyfriend refuses? Is your boyfriend in a financial position to buy them out? All of these questions could potentially lead to a family feud, which you would be in the dead-center of if you lived in that house. And what if the sisters are perfectly fine with their brother (and you) living in the house as long as you want and you are somehow able to convince your boyfriend to upgrade the place to your liking? The sisters still will own 2/3 of that home while you have zero ownership. Would you be willing to essentially pay thousands of dollars to increase the value of someone else’s property?
Even if you worked out the legalities of property ownership and investment — and you’d have to bring in a lawyer to help you with that; don’t even think about doing it on your own — you still have the issue of the decor to deal with. It’s ridiculous to expect you to live in a museum to your boyfriend’s past. It isn’t the least bit fair to you or to your future together. Again, he and his sisters have equal ownership of everything in that home, so if you could convince your boyfriend to move out everything — or at least most — of the stuff you object to (remember, if you’re compromising, you also have to accept some things that you don’t love, like maybe keeping your boyfriend’s dad’s favorite old recliner, or his mother’s seashell collection), the three of them would have to decide together what to do with it. They could have an estate sale and sell the stuff none of them care to hang on to (though something tells me that would be a very small amount), or they could house some of the items in the sisters’ “beautiful homes.” Or, they could rent a storage unit for the bulk of it.
You don’t mention marriage and whether that’s something either of you want. If it is something you’ve considered and talked about, now would be the time to talk about it a little more seriously. If you truly are concerned about moving into and potentially investing money in this house you literally have no ownership of, marriage could be one way to partially solve that issue. Of course, don’t get married for that reason alone! And don’t overlook the other issues marriage would create (or simply not solve). Marriage has a way of taking whatever issues existed before and magnifying them by a thousand, so make sure you’re on the same page before tying any knots.
October — the date you need to move out of your current place — isn’t that far off, though, and my advice is if you can’t come to a very satisfactory agreement/conclusion by, say, mid-August at the latest, start looking for a bachelorette pad for yourself. You need to look out for numero uno and moving into a house where so many ghosts live probably isn’t really the safest thing to do.
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