Family proximity affects Americans’ decision in buying their homes

by Candyd Mendoza31 May 2019

American home buyers preferred to keep some “healthy boundaries” between them and their parents and in-laws to maintain a happier family relationship, according to a recent survey from Ally Home.

Ally Home, the direct-to-consumer mortgage arm of Ally Bank, surveyed 2,000 adults in the US about their preferred proximity from the homes of their family members. More than half (57%) of the respondents said there should be at least some driving distance between their place and where their parents and in-laws live.

The distance was even more important for Gen-Zers (63%) and millennials (62%). Twenty-seven percent of the respondents said 15-54 minutes is the ideal distance range.

"We're deep into the homebuying season, and at Ally Home, we see firsthand how excited consumers are to find and then be able to afford the home of their dreams," said Glenn Brunker, head of Ally Home. "But as we go through that homebuying journey with them, it's clear there's more than just the house and yard that go into their decision-making. Consumers need to think through things like the neighborhood, school system, access to good hospitals, and just how near (or far) they prefer to be to family. All of those things go into making a home the right fit, and we're here to help consumers when it comes to their specific loan needs." 

More than a third of respondents (37%) agreed that family should not live close enough just to come in and say hi. Even more millennials were not fond of the idea of the unannounced pop-in.

Meanwhile, 64% of the respondents said they don’t want their children living with them. Thirty-three percent of millennials were stressing about having their adult children, their parents, or in-laws living with them, more than other age groups (21%).

The respondents said they could live near their siblings (30%), their adult children (30%), and their parents (29%); but fewer wanted to live near their parents-in-law parents (25%).

The respondents also ranked their stress points when dealing with family and their top five answers included:

  • Road trip with parents or in-laws, but no radio (52%)
  • Dealing with a father/father-in-law whose views are on the opposite side of the political spectrum from yours (40%). Gen-Z and millennial respondents were even more bothered by this (53% and 44%, respectively)
  • Living within five minutes of parents or in-laws (38%)
  • Cooking a complicated meal for a mother or mother-in-law (31%)
  • Hosting family for the holidays (27%)

"Much of a person's preference regarding location has to do with cultural norms since extended families living together or nearby one another is common in certain cultures," said William Kelly, a licensed mental health counselor and licensed alcohol and drug counselor. “But more often, having some physical distance between family can help create a natural and healthy boundary. Ultimately, it's up to family members to be open and honest about their own boundaries and what makes them most comfortable.”