As your parents grow older, conversations come up about if they would downsize, move into a retirement community, or move in with you. While some households can welcome one or two new members, other households can have a much harder time. This can become a dilemma because you care about your parent’s health and safety, but also feel that having them move in will be invasive, cramped, overwhelming, and even burdensome.
If you have a decent size backyard in your house, one solution for you and your parents is a tiny home!
Tiny homes are homes that are only about 100 to 500 square feet. While being small, these homes can have a small kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, laundry & dryer, and living space. They are fairly inexpensive and can cost between $40,000 to $70,000. They became more popular during the 2008 financial crisis and you may have seen them now being built on HGTV shows or the Netflix show, “Tiny House Nation”. IKEA’s Tiny Home Project created a 187-square feet tiny home that looks amazing and is eco-friendly.
Tiny homes are a great opportunity for older adults who want to be closer to their children. They offer the ability for your parents to stay close to you, but also maintain privacy and independence. Tiny houses are easier to clean, maintain, and affordable. You can even customize a tiny home to be accessible for needs like bathroom, lighting, railings, and fall-detection systems. The best part is that your parents will be so close to you that you will worry less about them and they can come over for dinner whenever!
When looking at tiny homes to purchase, it is key to look at the floor plan. A lot of tiny homes try to reduce square footage by putting the bed loft-style, requiring you to climb steps or ladder to get into bed, that is not safe or realistic for your parents for the long term. Make sure the tiny home is only one level.
Granny pods or accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are tiny homes that are specifically designed for older adults with an accessible floor plan and optional added safety features. They have an open floor plan that is 28’ x 28’ with a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and living room. These types of tiny homes are often a little larger averaging about 300 to 400 square feet and cost about $80K to $100K with installation.
While this may seem like a large upfront cost, it does not compared to assisted living costing upwards of $50K per year and nursing homes costing around $90-100K per year. Not only would you be saving money by moving your parents into your backyard, you also remain in charge of your parents' care and give them independence and space they need.
Before installing a tiny home, make sure to check your city and county’s zoning laws to make sure you can add another structure, potentially with power, sewer, and water, on your property.
Having a tiny home in your backyard can sound much more appealing than giving up a spare bedroom or moving them to an assisted living community. You can easily be inspired by the simple floor plans and beautiful designs for tiny homes from Pinterest or a Google search. I hope this article gives you a new perspective on aging and opens up a new living option for your parents!