Dear Miriam,

I hope that you can advise me on my situation. I am from a farm myself, but have been working and living in Dublin for the last few years. I have been going out with a farmer from the Kilkenny/Carlow region for the last two years and we have decided that it’s time to take things to the next stage.

As the farm can’t move, that means that I am upping sticks. Fortunately, I’m in a position that I can work remotely, so I will be able to work from home three days a week and come up to the office for two. It will be a big change for me – leaving behind my friends in Dublin etc – but obviously our relationship cannot continue long distance forever, and if we are to make a go of things properly, we need to be together.

Initially we had discussed renting a house in the nearby town and then, longer term, applying for planning permission to build on the family farm. However, his mother has now suggested that we move into a granny flat that they built on to the main farmhouse a number of years ago. She thinks it’s mad that we should be paying rent when we could live there and save up for a mortgage.

My boyfriend thinks it’s a great idea. Of course, I can see why it might be a practical solution and I do appreciate the offer, genuinely.

However, while it has its own entrance, the flat is quite small and outdated. This isn’t a huge problem, but I will have to work from home and I’m afraid that it’s going to feel claustrophobic.

Ultimately though, I just feel that it’s a bit too close for comfort. I get on fine with my boyfriend’s parents, but you never know how these things will go. I just don’t really like the idea of living that close together and having my comings and goings observed. I just don’t feel comfortable with it.

What do you think Miriam? Am I making a mountain out of a molehill?


Dear Yvonne,

Thank you for your email. This is an exciting new chapter in your life and, of course, there is much to look forward to.

I think it’s also important to acknowledge, however, that you have agreed to make some very big changes in how you live your day-to-day life, such as leaving your own social circle. So, in that sense, I think it’s important that you feel comfortable with the new living arrangements and that your boyfriend realises that he has to meet you half way if you have concerns.

Of course, on paper, it might make perfect sense to move into the granny flat and it is generous of your in-laws to offer that opportunity. I’m sure that they mean well and that this is a genuine offer. However, I don’t think it is any harm to establish some healthy boundaries for both parties, especially when farm and family life is so entwined. I think it’s also reasonable that, at this stage of the relationship, you will want space and the opportunity to put your own stamp on a place – in as much as you can with a rental property.

I think the fact that you need space for a home office is compelling on its own, to be honest, and could be a good way to turn down the offer without causing offence. Another option might be to give it a try for a short period, eg two to three months, but that you agree in advance with your boyfriend that if it’s not working for whatever reason, that you move to town then. But perhaps the best policy is to start as you mean to go on.

Either way, I think it’s important to have an open conversation with your boyfriend sooner rather than later about how you feel. If readers would like to share their advice or experience on this matter, I would be happy to publish their responses too, if helpful.

Wishing you the best of luck and every happiness in this new chapter.