Elder Flats? Lawn Geezers? Yard Ornaments? Grammie’s Pad? Okay, enough of that. The question is what do you call those tiny homes that people are putting up in the backyard so that their parents can live close by? Answer: the technical term is accessory dwelling units, hereafter known as A.D.U.s, which have become all the rage. If I was living in someone’s backyard, I would go with the term yardbird.
With housing costs spiraling upward, some boomers (the ones who won’t leave unless you drag them out kicking and screaming) are giving the big house to the offspring and transforming the garage or putting up an ADU in the backyard. That way the grandparents can help out with childcare, and the offspring can eventually serve as caregivers to their aging parents. It’s an especially attractive direction for parents looking on helplessly while their children are locked out of the housing market due to the high cost of entry level housing.
Think of it as something like a she-shed or studio conversion. The parents are close by but have their own space and privacy whenever they want it. Zoning and property taxes are hurdles to be jumped over and you can most likely forget the idea if the base property is located where you’re subject to an HOA. About 80 percent of the nation’s neighborhoods permit only single-family homes, according to AARP, so ADUs just won’t work for many who would like to pursue this option. The pressure to change single-family home zoning will build considerably when we need to figure out where to house all of us aging boomers.
It does have its allure. Think perpetual croquet, pickleball or badminton. If your kids don’t need childcare for their kids, maybe we can mow the lawn, water the plants and weed the garden in return for nesting rights. And when your kids want to take off in the RV for a few weeks or take that trip to Greece, you’ll be right out back to keep an eye on the manse. It’s a win-win situation (a tired phrase to be sure, but sometimes it just fits). You and your children can breathe easy and even more importantly, save a lot of money. And that’s more dough for the kids to inherit if they need any more incentive to give up the yard.
Jay Harrison is a writer and creative consultant for DesignConcept. You can also visit his author page here. His newest mystery novel, Rio Puerco Demise is available on Amazon. His first mystery novel, Head Above Water, is also available on Amazon. But that’s not all. You can also purchase the Best of BoomSpeak on Amazon.