Many of us are feeling the pinch of caring for elderly loved ones. Between the cost of long-term care, the longer lifespan we’re experiencing thanks to modern medicine and healthier lifestyles, and the desire for intergenerational families to remain intact, entrepreneurs are trying to figure out ways for people to age in place and continue to be part of their families and communities long into their golden years. (See also: A Simple Guide to Planning For a Loved One’s Long-Term Care)
One option on the table is affectionately known as a “granny pod.” While some have criticized it as putting Grandma into a shed in the backyard, granny pods are far from this characterization. As with most real estate, it’s all about location, location, location. Think of granny pods as part of the tiny house movement, but outfitted specifically for a senior’s needs. They let our elderly parents stay close to us while providing them with their own self-contained, private space. And let’s be clear: I’ve spent the majority of my adult life living in a studio apartment in New York City that is the same size as a granny pod, so it’s not an unlivable housing option. (See also: 5 Money Strategies for the Sandwich Generation)
Below are three manufacturers who are designing, building, and distributing granny pods around the globe. Given the growing senior demographic and the growth of the population, we should continue to keep our eyes open for new companies in this niche and in the sustainable housing industry as a whole. (See also: 6 Financial Steps to Take When Your Aging Parents Move In)
Based in Blacksburg, Virginia, MEDCottages prices their granny pods at $85,000 to $125,000. They have three different styles and some are available as kits that can be assembled as units that can be leased rather than purchased outright. It’s also possible to just purchase the architectural plans from MEDCottage and hire your own contractor to build it for you. The MEDCottage products are equipped like hospital rooms with hand rails, lighted floorboards, hospital beds, large bathrooms, first aid kits, and defibrillators.
Manufactured by U.K. company Swift Group, the S-Pod illustrates the possibilities that this kind of living structure offers. Though only available in the U.K. at the moment (keep an eye out for U.S. expansions!), it’s easy to see how this option can be used for seniors who want to stay close to their families, but maintain their independence. These are currently priced at £22,145, which is about $28,690.
Unlike MEDCottages, these aren’t specifically outfitted for seniors. However, just as we outfit our own homes to help aging family members, they could also be altered as needed.
Hopping over to New Zealand, we find Breezepod. Like the S-Pod, this product is marketed to a wide demographic, including seniors. What makes their marketing message unique is that they are designing these units from an environmental sustainability perspective. Energy efficient, easy-to-assemble with just two people, and having the ability to add features like solar panels, Breezepods don’t require any timber, so they don’t cause any deforestation. The polymer materials used to create them are recyclable, and their designs are both earthquake-proof and wind-resistant.
Currently, the cost of a granny pod is the responsibility of the land owner. However, MEDCottage is laying the groundwork in the U.S. to push to have the construction of granny pods receive assistance from Medicare. Given that the cost of a granny pod is roughly the same as the cost of long-term care in a nursing facility for two years, and the need to reduce the strain on existing nursing facilities, granny pods make economical and societal sense for those seniors who can live independently with some assistance on an as-needed basis. Aging in place is coming of age thanks to this innovation. (See also: 6 Ways to Ease Your Parents Into Assisted Living)