I last interviewed Cindy and Gary Smith and their daughter and son-in-law Katy and Keith Hewson, about a year and a half ago, while I was researching a story on how adult kids increasingly rely on their parents for financial support. In the Smith and Hewsons' case, the financial benefit goes both ways: At the time, both couples lived together in the Smiths' Houston townhouse, where the Smiths covered the mortgage and the Hewsons paid for the utilities, cable, and other bills. Plus, they enjoyed each other's company, so it was a win-win situation. At the time, they expected the arrangement to last another year or so, or until the Hewsons has saved enough money to buy a home of their own.
I recently checked back on them to see if their plans came to pass. They did -- the Hewsons bought their own place, a single-family house, about a year ago. But the big surprise was that the couples are still living together. Keith Hewson, a pilot, asked his in-laws to move into their new house with them so they could continue their inter-generational living arrangement since it had been working out so well. Now, the Hewsons pay the mortgage while the Smiths cover the bills and groceries. In addition to the financial benefits, Keith Hewson likes knowing that his wife isn't alone when he's traveling for his job for much of the workweek.
"I wish more people would consider it," says Cindy Smith. "As long as you have the financial situation worked out and organized, it's not a relationship where one is taking advantage of the other," she says. She and her husband were recently about to pay for a 28-day cruise to western Europe, which cost around $8,000, entirely out of the savings that they had accumulated by their living arrangement.
What do you think -- are the Hewsons and Smiths unique in their ability to make inter-generational living work, or is this the way of the future?