Lots of us do it--we rent a big vacation house with lots of bedrooms and access to entertaining things to do and we fill it with our grown children and their families or significant others or important friends.
The idea is always the same: to relax and enjoy down time with our nearest and dearest. For those of us whose grown children live further away than a quick visit any day of the week, the week or two away together is a special time to reconnect.
Always sounds better than it works out. Sibling rivalry has an ugly way of breaking out; the young cousins don't get along or leave one of their own out. Or siblings reconnect and you feel left out or irrelevant. And then there's the question of who's paying the bill. And how does that affect who gets the master bedroom suite.
NextAvenue, the new PBS website for those over 50, had a recent piece it dubbed, "How to Share a Vacation Villa and Remain Friends." If you don't want to read the original piece, here are highlights of questions the author suggests you ask before you book a shared holiday home with friends or family. I've culled or rewritten them for relevancy to sharing a vacation retreat with grown children.
Talk about cleaning. Even in paradise, there are dishes to be washed, laundry to be done, beds to be made and floors to be swept.
Determine in advance how to split rental fees. Two couples in two master suites can easily halve the cost. But if one set of grown kids takes two smaller bedrooms for himself and his kids; the other shares a big one with his baby and you take a third but teeny tiny room, it becomes a math problem: How much should each family pay?
Establish how you’ll share food and liquor costs. If one family wants interesting, sophisticated food but you and your other grown child prefer spaghetti and meatballs, will you grouse at splitting the food bills evenly? Likewise, if one son drinks just one glass of wine a night but your daughters have 5 p.m. cocktails every evening followed by a bottle of wine with dinner, how do you divide up the liquor bill? Beyond those costs, you need to divvy up responsibilities of food shopping and preparation.
Discuss your vacation rhythms. Do some of you get up 7 a.m. and head to the beach or do all of you envision sleeping in and enjoy a late brunch before bringing out the beach towels or going sightseeing? Differences in this department are a recipe for holiday disaster, unless you agree beforehand that you'll be going your own way.
Consider how to share a rental car. If everyone had to fly to the location, you and your grown kids are never going to want to go everywhere together and at the same time. [see above] Think about sharing the car for one or two days of a week’s stay and then apportion the remainder of time. To eliminate problems, you might want to rent more than one car.