Spoiler alert: a little distance goes a long way.

By Maggie Seaver
Updated: May 30, 2019
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Buying a home? Then you’re probably considering big factors like budget, school district, neighborhood, and—wait for it—proximity to family. Before you move next door to your brother-in-law and his family—or down the street from your parents—you might want to reconsider.

Ally Home, a direct-to-consumer mortgage arm of Ally Bank, surveyed more than 2,000 American adults who made their opinions clear on the matter of living near family, unannounced visits, and too much family time. Not that they don’t love their families—but living a town or two over, versus down the street, allows families to enjoy visits without disrupting each other’s lives.

Younger survey-takers seem to be the most adamant about keeping their distance: 63 percent of GenZ respondents, and 62 percent of millennials declare distance very important. And it’s not just adults who need distance from their older parents: 64 percent of people admitted that, while they obviously adore their grown-up children, they don’t love the idea with living with them.

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So what’s the ideal amount of space to leave between relatives? Overall, 57 percent of respondents agree a solid drive should separate them from their parents or in-laws—with a 15- to 45-minute drive coming in as the sweet-spot interval. There’s something to be said for knowing you’re close to family, but not so close that they could burst through the door at any moment. It sounds harmless, but unsolicited pop-ins are a surprisingly genuine concern for a lot of adults: 38 percent named “living within 5 minutes of parents/in-laws” as their top stressor when dealing with family; 37 percent agree family shouldn’t live close enough to just “pop in and say hi”; and 42 percent of millennials hate the idea of an unannounced visit.

Although it’s not uncommon for people to move homes to be closer to family, Ally’s new survey proves there’s definitely such thing as living too close to relatives. Let’s just say establishing some healthy boundaries between you and your parents and/or in-laws could make for a happier family dynamic.

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