Bocce ball courts in a 55+ master planned community in Tucson Arizona

Helping Aging Parents with a Place to Live

Last Updated on October 31, 2022 by Kim Labriola

We’re getting to an age where our clients, friends, and ourselves are having to think about helping an aging parent. An important consideration is housing. I know we’re not the only ones facing this dilemma, since we’ve had several friends and clients ask us about this topic. Hopefully this gives you some insight to some options and things to think about.

4 Housing Options for Helping Aging Parents

1) Rent a house or apartment

2) Buy a house (or townhouse or condo)

3) Buy a house for yourself with a guest house

4) Build a guest house on your existing property

If you’d like to build a guest house (also known as an ADU – Accessory Dwelling Unit) on your existing property, there are additional items to think about. First of all, is this an option in your area? What are the zoning regulations in your municipality? The City of Tucson recently changed the regulations allowing for more ADUs to be built. However, if you live within a HOA, the neighborhood association may not allow a guest home to be built on your property.

Does the location make sense?

Is your home located near amenities and healthcare. Will the location be a good fit for your parent?

Does it make financial sense to built an ADU in your area/neighborhood? Will your home be over-improved compared to others nearby? If so, you may not recoup the funds you spent when you eventually sell.

Studio guest house interior with a kitchenette, an option for helping aging parents
Studio guest house interior with a kitchenette

Have questions about purchasing a home?

Other Items to Consider

Time frame

How long do you anticipate needing the property for your family member? What is their current health like? What is their long-term health prognosis? Will they need more hands-on help sooner than later?

It makes more financial sense to purchase a home when you’ll be keeping it for a longer period of time. That way you can ride out any future dips in the real estate market. I usually advise folks to rent if they don’t plan on owning the property for at least 5 years.

Example of a recently built ADU guest house built adjacent to the main home shown on the right.
Example of a recently built ADU guest house built adjacent to the main home shown on the right.

Need more information?

How’s your relationship?

Do you and your family members get along enough with your parent to live in close proximity to each other? This is an especially important consideration if you’re thinking about a guest house.

What will you do with the property afterwards?

Hopefully your parent will live a long happy life. However, it’s okay to plan for the future without them. After they get full use of the property, do you prefer to sell the home, keep as an investment property, or would you use it for yourself? Note: using it yourself is more applicable if it’s a guest house.

Condo located in Tucson Arizona
Condos are more affordable and require less maintenance than a home, which makes it popular with older folks.

Want to discuss your situation further?


How are you planning on financing the home or guest house? Does your parent have a home with equity to sell? Or do they have other savings? Could they qualify for a loan? If not, will your family member need your monetary help to purchase?

Loan Programs

If you’re purchasing the property for your parent to live in, there are special programs that allow you to purchase a second home and allow a low-income family member to live in it, where you would not be considered an investor to qualify for a mortgage. This will help you by lowering the interest rate (mortgages for second homes have higher interest rates than a mortgage for a primary home). I’m happy to help you find a local lender who is knowledgeable about these types of loan programs.

exterior of a home in a 55+ master planned community in Tucson Arizona. 55+ communities are another option for helping aging parents.
Exterior of a home in a 55+ master planned community in Tucson Arizona

We’re here to help!

Homes currently for sale for Tucson area with a guest house

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