Downsizing and Real Estate

11/2/2021 | By Terri L. Jones

Maybe your mom or dad recently fell, has left the stove on repeatedly, or keeps forgetting to take their medications. While they obviously need a little extra help now, your parents are resisting assisted living because of the cost or the loss of independence. They’re equally hesitant about moving into your guestroom. Granny pods as creative solutions for seniors are essentially in-law suites turned tiny homes.

Also known as an ADU or accessory dwelling unit, these prefab, stick-built, or customized (such as a shed or garage) structures are built on your property and range in size from around 300 to 500 square feet. While this separate residence is close enough that you can lend a hand to your loved ones, a granny pod is detached from your home for improved privacy.

This living arrangement is a great solution for many older people who need a little extra support, but as with anything, it has both advantages and disadvantages. We’ve laid out some of the pros and cons to consider:


  1. Peace of mind. Because your parent(s) is literally right in your backyard, you can be there in seconds should they need help. You can also check in on them on a regular basis. The proximity of an ADU not only gives you peace of mind, but also saves you time compared to traveling back and forth to a more distant home.
  2. Independence/privacy. Your loved ones want to maintain their independence, but you and your family probably also want your privacy (it’s been a long time since you and your parents lived under the same roof!). Granny pods give you both your own space.
  3. Long-term cost. The upfront cost is high ($40,000 to $125,000 according to many of the sources we consulted); however, long term, it’s much less expensive than an assisted living community or nursing home.
  4. Home resale value. With the extra square footage, your property value may increase with potential buyers viewing the structure as a great guest cottage, permanent or temporary residence for grown kids, or even rental property (be sure to check zoning regulations). Some granny pods are mobile, which means they can be resold when you no longer need them.


  1. No care included. Granny pods cannot be compared, apples to apples, with care facilities. If your parent needs more care than you can provide, you will still need to pay for home care on top of the cost of the structure itself.
  2. Utility upgrades. The ADU is designed to be connected to your existing utilities, potentially requiring that you upgrade your electric, water or, sewer system to accommodate the extra load. Your utility bills will also increase.
  3. Zoning regulations. Be sure the zoning laws in your area allow you to build a separate residence on your property.
  4. Property taxes. Along with an increase in property values comes an increase in property taxes. Also confirm that your homeowner’s insurance will cover this addition to your property in case of any damage, etc.

As baby boomers and their parents age, residential choices are increasing. With careful research and weighing the benefits and disadvantages of each, you can find an option that works for you. Granny pods as creative solutions for seniors might be your family’s best answer.

Terri L. Jones

Terri L. Jones has been writing educational and informative topics for the senior industry for over ten years, and is a frequent and longtime contributor to Seniors Guide.

Terri Jones