Too close for comfort? Most Americans prefer a ‘buffer zone” from family, in-laws

May 30, 2019

How close are you to your family—not only emotionally, but physically?  A new survey of 2,000 U.S. adults sponsored by Ally Home has found that, while you can’t choose your family, you can choose how nearby you live to them.

Indeed, consumers across all age demographics say keeping some healthy boundaries between where they live and where parents and in-laws are based makes for a happier family relationship.  

According to the survey respondents, a little distance between families goes a long way. More than half (57%) say there should be at least some driving distance between where their parents and/or in-laws live and their own homes. An even greater percentage of Gen Z (63%) and Millennial respondents (62%) believe some distance is healthy. Specifically, most respondents (27%) homed in on between 15 minutes and 45 minutes as the ideal distance range 

Among the other findings of the survey on preferences in family geography and relationships are the following:

  • Call first before popping in! More than one-third of respondents (37%) agree that family should not live close enough to just “pop in” and say hi. An even greater number of Millennials (42%) say they don’t like unannounced drop-ins.
  • Adults need their own space. Almost two-thirds of Americans (64%) say that, while they love their adult children, they don’t want them living with them. Millennials don’t like how things are trending, either. They worry more than any other age group that, at some point, they will have their adult children, and their parents or in-laws living with them (33% vs. 21% of the general population).
  • My family’s okay, but yours can keep their distance. When asked about their preferences for which family members could live nearby, respondents said my siblings (30%), my adult children (30%), my parents (29%), my in-law parents (25%), or my in-law siblings (24%).

The survey also presented respondents with a number of stress points and asked which ones ranked top when dealing with family. The top five responses included:

  1. Road trip with parents or in-laws, but no radio (52%),
  2. Dealing with a father or father-in-law whose political views oppose your own (40%),
  3. Living within five minutes of parents or in-laws (38%),
  4. Cooking a complicated meal for a mother or mother-in-law (31%), or
  5. Hosting family for the holidays (27%).

The online survey was conducted by Regina Corso Consulting on behalf of Ally Financial between April 17 and April 22.

Research contact:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *