What are in-Law Quarters?

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  • Written By: KD Morgan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 April 2020
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Traditionally, the idea of in-law quarters has existed for thousands of years. In modern times, they are making a comeback due to the necessity to consolidate time and money within families.

In-law quarters also come in the form of accessory living quarters, garage apartments, guesthouses, in-law units, mother-in-law flats and studio apartments. Not all of these areas are reserved specifically for parents. Many people rent out these areas of their homes to supplement their income.

In-law quarters are usually a separate, preferably self-sufficient unit within the main house. This can be a simple remodeling of a bedroom and bath to accommodate a senior citizen’s needs. It can involve a second master suite with bedroom and bath. Ideally, the quarters can be a complex attached studio or a completely separate structure on the grounds of the main house.

Since the early 1900’s, Western society has moved away from multi-generational living. This has brought about the need for supervised living facilities and nursing homes for the senior citizens. This can be an expensive undertaking to consider within the family finances, as most insurance does not cover the expense of supervised care.


By the early 2000s, the concept of an in-law apartment has begun resuming its practicality. Families have appreciated the many benefits the convenience brings. The inclusion of first generation parents living with the family helps financially as the income and expenses of two households can be consolidated and shared. This is much more expedient than maintaining two separate homes. In addition, senior citizens can continue to maintain their self-sufficiency and productivity while living within these arrangements.

With people living longer and healthier lives, the financial burdens of aging first generation parents has become a concern to most families. One in three of the baby boomers generation expects to include a parent moving in with them. This solution is becoming more popular as it also cuts down on time and worry for their parents.

Most Eastern cultures have always included in-law quarters in their family homes. The first generation always played an important role in the household. The Amish also have a tradition of moving their first generation into a smaller retirement quarters within the house. This is called a dawdi haus (daw-dee-hahs). As with the Eastern cultures, the parents were honored and participated as much or as little as appropriate.


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Post 1

Excellent article. Many families are going to ADU for extra living space. Oregon, Washington and Florida lead the was by State Government approvals. Our company provides this accommodation on a turn key basis. A fully equipped 2 bedroom 800 square feet is in the price range of $60,000 to $75,000 installed.

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