In the edition of 2 September, we heard from a reader called Yvonne, who was due to leave her life in Dublin to move in with her boyfriend in the countryside. While they had originally planned to rent a house in a nearby town while building their own home on the family farm, Yvonne was now feeling pressured to move into a granny flat beside her boyfriend’s parents to save money.

As part of my response, I invited our readers to share their own experiences or advice for Yvonne. These are just two of the thoughtful letters that we received.

Sincere thanks for taking the time to get in touch,


Hi Miriam,

I fully agree with your advice to Yvonne.

Starting as she means to go on is always good thinking. If she and her boyfriend were to try it out for a while and decide it was not working, it would be so much more complicated to move out after two-three months, causing, perhaps, disappointment and bad feelings that might be difficult to repair.

I think the boyfriend should be very happy to meet her on this issue; after all, she has sacrificed so much for him, so he can continue with the life that is familiar to him.

One small suggestion I would make, and this might not go down well, but, if the mother is concerned about saving money, which is reasonable, might she be willing to have the young couple do up the granny flat, let it out and use the income to subsidise the rent of their new accommodation?

The main negative, as I would see it, would be that it may be a stranger, as opposed to family, living next door to the parents. However, if the tenant is carefully chosen, it could work out very well and be a win-win-win situation, for everyone.

Yvonne’s thoughts and concerns are very real and fair, and I wish her the best in the next phase of her life.


Hi Miriam

The letter from Yvonne about the proposed move to the granny flat at her boyfriend’s farm really struck a chord with me.

It is nearly 20 years since I too encountered pressure from my now-parents-in-law to move into the original farm house and do it up and make our home there. I really didn’t want to do that, as the older couple were moving into the granny flat and we were starting out on our lives together living right beside them. Both my now-husband and his family thought it was a great idea.

I, too, like Yvonne, had moved from my own life to be with my partner, and this does involve a big sacrifice. After all these years, I still regret that I gave in to that pressure and agreed to live in the family home.

It has never felt like my own home, despite spending the equivalent of two mortgages renovating our part of the house and the granny flat. I know it is hard for a farmer to move away from his home and business, especially if there is milking, etc, but I would firmly say to this lady: trust your gut instinct. If you don’t feel it is the right move for you, don’t do it.

I know it is not a permanent move yet, but believe me when I say, if you don’t make a stand now, you will never get that man of yours to see his life as separate from his parents. You have made a big change in your life for him and now he must show his commitment and regard for you by compromising. Thank his mother for her kind offer; don’t feel you should overexplain your reasons.

Believe you me, you’ll be explaining and justifying yourself for years if you start now. Rent a house in town with your partner and enjoy your time together.

Farmer’s wife

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