More families are taking the option of “in-law” quarters sooner in life than ever before. We work with some buyers looking at “in-law” options when their parents are only in their 60’s. There are many benefits to a “sooner than later” approach including reducing living expenses, sharing home responsibilities, and spending time with family. Your realtor can assist you in prioritizing specific needs for your family situation, but here are 3 general tips to consider.
- Start planning before it is time. Ideally, families will begin the discussion of combining households with ample time to agree on needs and priorities. When buying a home to accommodate the future possibility of an aging parent, be sure that your new home has a minimum of two large bedrooms and two full bathrooms downstairs. The second bedroom can be used as a guest room or office prior to being an “in-law” space. You may also want to consider aging in place features such as wide halls and doorways, easy home entry, and bathrooms that could be handicap accessible.
- Base budget on your income alone. A benefit of combining households is certainly cost savings by sharing expenses, but be certain of affordability for you and your family without using in-law funds. It is attractive to combine households to allow greater affordability of amenities with two income contributors vs. one. However, be sure you can afford the home on your own if it does not work out or if income (or health status) changes.
- Make personal space a priority and be sure gathering spaces are generous. Everyone needs their own personal space even if it is just a bedroom retreat. There has to be an understanding that sharing a home does not result in the loss of independence. Family members must to be able to “do their own thing,” or the arrangement will become burdensome. In addition, gathering spaces, including the kitchen, should be able to accommodate the entire family comfortably.
As with any home search, there is not a “one home fits all” option. Location, floor plans, features, and budget will vary widely based on your family’s situation. Your realtor will be able to help you think through the numerous options that can be made more complicated when combining households.
by Margie Mays, DC Team and Crye-Leike, Realtors Southaven Broker
Margie knows first-hand about the blessings and challenges of combining households. She shares a home with her sister and mother in Olive Branch, which is often filled with extended family for dinners, card games, and grandchildren sleepovers.