In today's New York Times there's an article called "The Ultimate Amenity: Grandparents." It examines the lives of a few young New Yorkers who recently purchased apartments, not for themselves, but for their parents.
The piece features subjects like "two brothers in their 30s who helped buy a $505,000 Lincoln Towers co-op for their retired parents," an Upper West Sider that spent two years and $899,000 searching for an apartment suitable for his mother, and Barbara Yastine who splurged $875,000 for a "sun-filled co-op with a terrace." And one can't forget Melissa Sawyer and her husband, Eric Kaplan, who foot the monthly $3,300 rent on her mother's brand new Jersey City apartment.
Esther Rein, Ms. Yastine's agent, provides the piece's money quote: "The win-win is to have the grandparents live close, but not live with." Because there's nothing worse than having old people smell in your apartment.
It all comes through without using the phrase "helicopter parents" or identifying the reason for the trend as "lazy 30-somethings who can't take care of their new children by themselves." This should be applauded.
The biggest reason that these kids want to live so close to their parents is to get rid of the need for a nanny. If you're a successful young person with child, there's now no reason to let your kid ruin your career — just buy your mom a nanny's quarters down the street and you're good to go apparently.
After reading the article, I asked my mom (hypothetically) if she wanted me to buy her an apartment so that we could live closer to each other. She said yes of course and then explained to me that she thinks this is a return to a way things used to be. "People used to stay close together because they didn't want to break up their families," my mom said.
And thinking about it for a bit, it would be kind of fun to have your mom at arm's length to help you do stuff that you don't want to do.
She then accurately described answering questions for me "just like that new movie with Seth Rogan and Barbra Streisand, but on the Internet" and said that we wouldn't even have to go on a roadtrip. That would be way too close for comfort.