More than 65 million people in the U.S. are caring for an aging, disabled, or chronically ill family member or close friend.

While doing so is never easy, it is always rewarding. After all, we all want to give back to the family and friends who have been there for us, especially when they need it the most.

One way that some families are choosing to help out is by adding a mother-in-law suite to their home. Keep reading to learn what this means and why adding one to your home might make sense for you.

What is a Mother-in-Law Suite?

A mother-in-law suite or mother-in-law house is an addition to your home or property that is designed to allow aging loved one to live close to you and your family while still have a separate space.

Sometimes mother-in-law suites are built right into the home, such as in a basement or as a wing that is added onto the home. Other times, a mother-in-law house, which is a separate outbuilding, is added instead.

Property restrictions, space, and budget all have an impact on how a mother-in-law suite is added to a home. The needs of an aging family member who will be living in the space may also be a factor.

The size of a mother-in-law suite may vary as well. Sometimes the suite features only a bedroom and bathroom, while other times it may include a kitchen, living area, laundry room, and other features

Why a Mother-in-Law Suite Makes Sense

There are many reasons why a mother-in-law suite may make sense for you and your family. The following are far from the only reasons. It really comes down to your personal needs and that of your aging family member, your relationship with that person, and your finances.

A Separate Space

Taking in an aging family member is always a special decision. 

Sometimes a family member needs some help and care and can’t live on his or her own anymore. Others may need financial help. Still more simply want more company after the passing of their spouse.

Even if you have room for them in your home, though, moving them into existing bedrooms isn’t always a great choice. It can put a strain on your relationship, as your family member may feel as though he or she is a burden on your family. 

If your mother-in-law or other family member is still able to care for themselves, they may feel as though their freedom is restricted. They no longer have their own kitchen or living space to use as they choose.

A mother-in-law suite gives him or her their own area to use and take care of as they please.


If your mother-in-law has health or physical conditions that she is dealing with, your current home could be a danger.

Stairs can be difficult, or even downright dangerous, for older individuals to navigate. Showers or bathtubs that aren’t equipped with rails and other accessibility features can put your loved one at risk every time they bathe. Narrow hallways may be impossible to navigate in a wheelchair or using a walker.

You could try to outfit your home to make it more accessible. But you can’t alter the layout of your current space.

When you add a mother-in-law suite, you can design it to fit your family member’s individual needs and demands, making it as safe and user-friendly as possible.

Quiet Escape

Odds are that your mother-in-law or other aging family member isn’t as active as he or she was in their youth.

If you have children or just a young, active family, that can mean a lot of noise and activity all hours of the day. This can be a lot for a family member who needs peace and quiet to stay relaxed and healthy.

By adding a separate mother-in-law suite, you’ll give your family member somewhere that they can go to escape the hustle and bustle of your home whenever they need to.

Long-term Plans

Just because you have space in your home for your family member right now doesn’t mean that it will always make sense for you.

You may decide to have another child. Or the children you have who may be sharing a room now will grow and want their own space.

Down the line, you may also decide that you want an office, craft room, or other use for your space.

Adding a mother-in-law suite or home will allow you to keep your space free for any future, long-term plans while still providing for your loved one. 

Cost-Savings and Convenience

On average, nursing home facilities cost more than $90,000 a year for a private room, or just over $82,000 for a shared space.

If your loved one is going into a nursing facility early enough that he or she may spend even just a couple of years there, you could actually save money by adding a mother-in-law suite to your home.

Another cost you need to consider is what you would spend to visit your loved one. If you are close to him or her, you may choose to visit several times a week. Not only will this cost you travel expenses, but it will also take up a chunk of your time.

Having your loved one in your home will eliminate this, allowing you to visit with him or her as often as you choose.

Investing in Your Home

Adding a mother-in-law suite isn’t free. But the value that it will add to your home may just make up for your costs.

A mother-in-law suite or home is a great addition to your property because it increases your home’s value and maybe a huge asset if you ever choose to sell.

Designing a Mother-in-Law Suite for Your Home

When you choose to add a mother-in-law suite or home to your property, you’re not only saving money on nursing facility costs, increasing your home value, and giving your loved one space of their own. You’re also giving your family the special, priceless ability to spend time with their aging loved one before it’s too late.

Now that you know why they’re such a great idea, it’s time to start designing your own mother-in-law suite. Check out these tips next to learn what you should look for in a set of mother-in-law design plans.