Dear Amy: My sister and I don’t get along well.
In fact, my sister doesn’t get along with most people. (Our mom always says, “You know how she is.”)
I can put up with her behavior only in spurts. Her husband, however, is wonderful.
Here’s the issue: Right now, my widowed mom, my husband and I live a couple of houses apart in a nice retirement community in the South.
My sister (who doesn’t work) and her husband come from their home up North to visit for two to four weeks at a time during the winter. This is great because Mom really enjoys the company and loves being with family.
Now that my brother-in-law is fully retired, they have commented that they plan on staying with mom for two or three months at a time, becoming “snowbirds” and using her home as a free vacation spot.
Mom was looking forward to that.
Yes, these visits were fine when Mom was alone, but now that is all about to change. We are planning to sell our two houses and buy one big house together.
The problem is that we’ve still heard comments about my sister and brother-in-law coming to stay a few weeks or months, even after we move to this bigger house.
A week or two is fine, but longer than that is totally unacceptable to my husband and me, if we will be under one roof.
There are hotels and long-term rentals available nearby to house them, but my very frugal sister will not want to spend the money (even though they have the money).
It was fun for them to have a long-term free “vacation in paradise” with mom, but if these are the terms, it is making us not want to share a house.
We’re wondering what you think we should do.
Dear Reluctant: I agree that it is not a good idea to consolidate your households until you come up with some workable solutions for coping with your “snowbirding” sister.
When your sister and brother-in-law visit and are taking care of your mother, you and your husband might take this opportunity to travel (if you are able) during the bulk of their stay.
Otherwise, you might look for a house that has an additional unit or “mother-in-law suite” with a separate entrance. When the snowbirds come for the winter, they (or you) could stay in the unit; with you renting it out for shorter term stays during the rest of the year. Getting your sister to contribute to the household during her stay might be easier than compelling her to pay for her own separate housing.
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