Because of not otherwise specified circumstances I started to live together with my Hong Kong boyfriend, Mr. Panda, while he was still living with his parents. While we four only planned to share the apartment for a few months, the complicated housing situation in Vienna forced us to look for an apartment far longer than expected – 63 months to be exactly.
For more than 5 years, we lived together on 63 m² (678 ft²/ 75 yd²), Chinese parents, Mr. Panda and me. Of course we could have moved out sooner, but time just flew by too fast without us realizing. And let’s face the fact: at some point, Mr. Panda and I just got lacy to find a new place.
While I living together with his parents for long proves beyond doubt that I really truly love him, I can now unintentionally give first hand advice to anyone who plans to live together with their (future) in-laws. That means, if they are strange and stubborn, but deep inside just want the best for one, just like mine. Before I really go to the bone, I want to share my top 10 advantages to you when living together with the Chinese parents of your partner.
1. There is no rent to pay
This especially comes in handy when you are a poor student like me or want to save some money. Out of courtesy I asked them more than once if I should contribute to living expenses, but they always refused me. There I tried to compensate their generosity otherwise, like with helping them at home, and am still helping them now every time I am needed.
2. There is almost always someone at home to watch the house
It is no secret, but I am paranoid. Although Austria is a rather safe country, Vienna’s living space has a magical force of attraction for shady individuals who like to rob unwatched places. So if it is lively at home it hopefully discourages those people to try to rob you. Rob for example my old desktop computer or my even older notebook. Not to mention Chinese parents’ tube TV, which would be quite fit for Technical museums’ old-timer section.
3. Thanks to different wake-up times, you live almost alone
If you wake up at different times, work, go to sleep at different times, you do not have too much time to spend together. Chinese parents got up at six and went to work, we got up at eight o’clock. They went to sleep at nine, we always made it past midnight. On weekdays it was almost as we lived alone, we just saw each other for dinner. And sometimes we met at the toilet around midnight.
4. You do not have to cook, awesome home cooked Chinese meals will be provided every dinnertime
When I asked Mr. Panda about what he liked best when we were living together with his parents, he only answered ‘Good Chinese food!’. I also found it quite comfortable that I did not have to cook every day, and when I came back home late after my part-time job, I did not have to get busy in the kitchen myself. I also could request dished one day in advance.
5. You do not have to go grocery shopping
When someone other does the cooking, you normally do not have to do the grocery shopping. The only time I went to the supermarket was to buy lunch or some snacks. It really saved me a lot of time, and thanks to bargain-loving Chinese mom I always got the best price possible for what I asked her to buy for me.
6. Free cooking classes for traditional Chinese dishes
Of course your new Chinese mom will be more than happy to teach you all her secrets about Chinese traditional cooking. You just have to tell her what you want to learn.
7. Someone helps you with the housework
Double the people unfortunately also mean double cleaning too. At least you can share the work and it takes longer until it is your time to clean the toilet again.
8. Get your private Chinese teacher for free
This might come in handy if you want to learn Chinese or Cantonese. They can practice to have conversations with you, or help you with your grammar problems. But if you are like me, who has no interest in learning it, it can only be called ‘to cast pearls before swine’. ‘Maybe later!’ is what I always say, but really, let’s face the truth: I’ll probably never come down to learn it, ever.
9. Master the art of self-control
Of course there are many points of frictions if you live together with people
impervious to advice from another cultural background. As it only causes more stress if we fight, I sometimes just held back and ignored conversations about topics which make me too emotional. And although I sometimes really wanted to teach them when they were so wrong about something, I just held back because they wouldn’t believe me anyway. Because I was younger than them anyway and therefore couldn’t know better. I am really happy that I got the opportunity to master the art of cultivated self-control.
10. Learn a lot about Chinese culture and experience it first-hand
Last but not least I am happy that I could (and still can) learn a lot about Chinese culture. I was always interested in different countries and people and am therefore quite happy to be able to experience another culture from close by.
Have you ever lived together with your in-laws? Which advantages do/did you enjoy the most?