“The idea of multigenerational housing is as old as humanity,” says Forbes.  Sharing the same space, I think of Hispanic elders who would never choose a “debilitating” assisted living facility, Navajo grandparents who continue to live on their own with the help of their grandchildren who still live on the Reservation, or the Amish.  In another area, in-law apartments turned into “Granny pods” (backyard homes with medical assistance for frail, elderly relatives) which allow grandparents to be near their beloved, growing grandchildren.

Another more modern and probably more liberating answer is the mother-in-law suite.  They are also called “granny flats,” “casitas,” or “accessory dwelling unit” (ADU). It is a separate space that a homeowner constructs for their parents, relatives, or even an adult child to dwell in, that is either attached to or on the same grounds as the single-family home.

Many aging parents favor living among a younger atmosphere more than an older, dying crowd that can be found in assisted living facilities. They experience desired control and independence with mother-in-law tiny homes which can be decorated with their own things to really make it feel like home.

According to the 2010 Pew Research report, 20% of people 65 and older live in a multigenerational household, and the numbers are growing!  Major developers are getting into the multigenerational act by building homes that are down-sized versions of their previous home with a private entrance, living room, kitchen, bedroom, and bath.  They are often aesthetically pleasing and environmentally conscious. Just make sure to choose the right planning and builders!

Start by making sure that you have a clear understanding of the work involved.  As said earlier, there are two options: attached or detached. Attached can be a converted garage or basement or their own room in the house.  Detached can be a free-standing tiny house that can show up in many themes, seen below. Whichever you choose, be ready for the expense and for the regulations, such as insurance, permits, and compliance with county laws, that will directly affect your decision.  Fortunately, according to Time magazine, “More municipalities, particularly in Western cities, are amending zoning laws to allow for ADUs.”

Give them what they want!  Consider the theme, before picking floor plans and furnishings for your beloved relative’s coziest choice.  What feels like home or a forever vacay for a retiree from a year-round tropical escape or their own quaint, dowager (as the English frequent) cottage?  Click the link above for three other awesome theme ideas.

These days, many homeowners are turning to these separate-but-joined living quarters that can be created with relative ease and can provide benefits.  The pros of this investment can come out to a way to make extra income, a way to improve your relationship, an alternative to a $6,000 a month assisted living facility, a live-in babysitter.   

If you are looking for a safe, efficient, and comfortable place for mom and dad, a way to keep them close but gives both of you privacy, independence, and your own space, the mother-in-law suite tiny home offers this and more from the comfort of your backyard.

Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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