Is it a good idea for a teenager to move in with a relative in order to stay in the same school?

irina1997 asks: I’m 17, in high school. My parents want to move away from the city. Partly because they want peace and quiet but also because it’s cheaper there. The house they found is really far away from my school and I would take very long bus rides every day. I have another choice. I could move in with a cousin. She’s about 30 and lives alone in a big apartment, which is very close to my school. I don’t want to move away from the city but I’m kind of sad/scared to live without my parent and with a person I don’t really know. What should I do?

Hi irina1997 –

This is a really tough question.  If you were much younger, I’d say that it’s probably worth more to stay with your parents, as you’ll just get used to your new school and it’ll be fine.  If you were an adult, I’d say you should definitely move out, just for the adventure.  But you’re right on the tightrope between the two.

So I think either one could be fine.  The difference between the two is in the risk you take.  Moving with your parents sets up a risk that you might not like your new school, or make many friends, before you’re done there.  Moving in with your cousin sets up a risk that you might not get along that well with her.

But the difference between these two risks is that one of them offers you a chance to learn something about it first.  And that is your cousin.

Why not spend a weekend with her, right now?  Why not have dinner with her, go to a movie, and – most importantly – hang out for a few hours and find out what each other is like.  Do you like many of the same things?  Do you like to go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time?  Do you like the same amount of quiet in the house?  Do you like the same amount of cleanliness (this one tends to be the biggest issue when people living together don’t get along!)?

My suggestions might sound a little odd.  They might sound almost romantic, like you’re going on a date and finding out about how far to take the relationship.  Well, there’s a reason why:  even though it’s not romantic, you’re suggesting having the most commitment you’ve ever had with a person other than your parents – with this cousin!

And unlike when Handsome brought me home from the pound, this isn’t a case where one of you is going to “train” the other to live with them the rest of your life.  No, this is just an issue of whether or not you two can get along well enough to make this school year work for you.

Now there’s another interesting aspect to this, irina1997.  Are you planning on going away to a college or university when you’re done with high school?  If so, you’re probably going to be getting a roommate.  And most college students have a big learning curve, when they first live with someone outside their immediate family.  Well, wouldn’t it be great to have had that experience already?  To know what you are willing to compromise on and what not (Handsome, for example, had a roommate who was a lot messier than he was, but they agreed on a line that went down the middle of their room, where his roommate could be as messy as he wanted, as long as the mess was on his side of the line!).

But again, my big suggestion is to go out with that cousin and find out all about her.  Many high schoolers would love to live with a 30-year-old instead of their parents.  But if she and you are a bad fit, it could be like living in a pound (which, believe me, you don’t want!).

So go check her out.  See her place.  Find out everything you can think of.  And encourage her to do the same, with everything about you.

And if, after that, you’re still undecided…  then write me back, and maybe we can figure the best solution out!



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