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Should you move closer to your grandchildren?

3 couples discuss their decision

Ruth and Joe Bodycott had lived in Pitman, N.J., most of their adult lives. When their son-in-law, Scott Hornung, and their daughter, Janyne, decided to purchase a home just outside Pitman, they invited the Bodycotts to join them in living there.

A year later, their granddaughter, Mikaela, was born.

After sharing the home for seven years, Hornung made an announcement. He was being transferred to a different state. Before the Bodycotts could react, their son-in-law asked, "Why don't you come with us?" It was a simple question... with a complex answer.

Going Often, Hosting Often

Whether to relocate from Highland Ranch, Colo. to Lawrenceville, Ga., where their 2-year-old granddaughter was living, was a tough decision for Ronda and Brian Olson. Ultimately, the Olsons (both extremely active in their community) decided that Colorado was a home they could not leave.

So they visit with their granddaughter once a month, paying for airfare out-of-pocket. Some months, they fly to Atlanta. Other months, they help their adult children buy plane tickets to Colorado. "Yes, there's a high cost involved," says 58-year-old Brian. "But maintaining the strong emotional bond our granddaughter has with her 'Papa' and 'Mama' is priceless."

Relocation Checklist

Considering moving to be closer to your grandchild? Before putting the house on the market, Susan Newman, Ph.D., a social psychologist and author of 13 nonfiction books about issues affecting family life, suggests first going through this list of questions. "Having your grandchildren move away is hard," says Dr. Newman. "Giving up the life you know can be hard, too."

  • Is your child or his/her spouse likely to have job relocations in the near future? Are frequent moves, every two or three years, likely?
  • How jarring would the move be in terms of your own social network? Do you make new friends easily? Can you give up the friends you currently have?
  • Remember that your adult children will have a life of their own and commitments that won't always include you. Will you feel cut off?
  • If you're still working, what are the job prospects at the new location?
  • If you're single, what activities will be available to you? Would you be able to pursue the same activities you currently enjoy?

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