No bigger pleasure and pain, the family beach house!


Great weekend celebrating independence in Maine.  It is SO nice to spend time at the beach on a holiday weekend especially when you are staying at a family house.  Renting a house is nice and hotels are great but nothing compares to spending that time in a place where multiple generations have BBQ’ed and celebrated together.  You can’t fake the character of a family beach house.  It is always a bit run down because everyone that stays there is part of the group and doesn’t need anything fancy.  Besides, if you call to complain you had best be prepared to get an earful from an elder member of the clan proclaiming, “fine….then fix it, paint it, or get a new one if it bothers you so much”.

It’s too bad that most family houses never make it that far, at least from what I’ve seen.  It seems that the house is controlled by one matriarch/patriarch and the house is enjoyed from there for years but the transition never seems to go well to the next generation. There is always infighting and feuds that make it impossible for the house to be “left” to any one person to act as the new anchor.  Unfortunately, I completely get it and it makes sense.  It’s an extremely difficult thing to navigate when there are sons, daughters, grandkids and cousins all involved.  Everyone feels a special bond to the place and has their own memories of spending countless hours as a child playing in the yard and frolicking in the waves.

To me it seems like the ultimate catch-22 because the house is such a valuable asset both tangible and intangible but is also a huge responsibility and expense that would be difficult for any one person to handle if they hadn’t been planning on it for years.  Personally, I would likely find myself stuck in the position of wanted to still be able to take advantage of the use of the house, happy to cut the grass, maybe even paint a little but full responsibility for taxes, insurance and just general upkeep….no thanks.

Luckily for me, this is not a problem I will ever have to face.  As much as I would love to have for my family to have “a place”, the prospect of dealing with that transition down the road is extremely daunting.  I have to wonder if there is a better way to make the transition happy and/or manage it.  There is a tool or app for everything today and very soon every generation will be comfortable enough with technology for it to apply to a wide base of people who are or will struggle with this very real and painful problem.

Generally, when the question is “Is there a better way?” the answer tends to be yes!

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