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Meet Your New Next Door Neighbor

This senior housing alternative may be the best of both worlds.

Your parent wants to stay independent, but you’re concerned about their having an accident and you’re not being there. You’ve thought about having them move in with you in your house, but you’re worried that might be too close, and frankly, Mom or Dad may not be that wild about living under your roof either. The right answer for everybody might be an alternative called Next Door Garage Apartments, an innovative concept that turns a standard two-car garage into a self-contained unit that’s right…next door. You and your parent each maintain your privacy, but you’re also close enough to be there in an instant.

Next Door Garage ApartmentsFirst launched in Indiana, Next Door Garage Apartments is the brainchild of Susan Jennings, a former banking executive whose specialty was trusts. Her clients included widows who didn’t want to continue living in a large house, but didn’t want to move far away either, and were looking for the perfect third option. Jennings’ idea delivers an ideal amount of space for one person. There’s a private entry, living room, dining room and bedroom areas, plus a fully equipped kitchen with stove, fridge, microwave, overhead light and double stainless steel sink; the bathroom is complete right down to the light and ceiling fan. Wall coverings, carpet and vinyl flooring are included, too, and handicap-access options are available. Virtually all you need to add are your parent’s furnishings, like a bed, sofa and their personal items.

Working with one of the national home improvement centers, Jennings arranges for delivery and the installation of the modular, prefabricated unit, which is completed in just 10 days. That turnaround time can be very important if you’ve become a caregiver after a crisis and need a housing alternative with no time to lose.

Jennings has thought of everything for her Next Door Garage Apartment. Utilities are designed to hook up to your home’s electricity, water and other utilities. Heating, air conditioning and a hot water heater are provided with the apartment, and your parent is able to fully control the temperature, so there won’t be any arguments over whether it’s too hot or too cold. The unit also comes wired for telephone and cable.

“Working with one of the national home improvement centers, Jennings arranges for delivery and the installation of the modular, prefabricated unit, which is completed in just 10 days.”

The price is less than what just one year at an assisted living facility might cost, and far less than putting an addition on your house. Two-car garages typically measure between 19’ x 19’ and 25’ x 25’, but regardless of size, the company charges the same fee. The cost of everything completed is $35,000 in the Midwest and 15 percent higher on either coastal area or Texas. When the apartment is no longer needed, it can be dismantled, though some have chosen to keep it as a guest apartment for overnight visitors, for a grown child returning home after college or even for a rental unit.

Jennings is currently planning a national rollout and setting up a network of installers with local plumbers and electricians to meet local codes.