Five years ago I tried to convince my in-laws to buy the house next door to us. It would’ve been perfect. Small, inexpensive and a stone’s throw from my front door.
I know what you’re thinking:
In-laws living next door sounds horrific, but I genuinely like my in-laws, even with their eccentricities and less-than-lovable dogs. After years of getting to know one another, my in-laws have grown accustomed to my divergent thinking, opinionated nature and directness, and I have warmed up considerably to their idiosyncrasies and quirks.
I think of Barbara and Gerry as my parents, and I honestly never thought that would happen.
Even more important, my daughter loves her grandparents more than any child I’ve ever seen, and I expect that my son will feel the same when he is old enough to express his feelings. I knew that having them next door would mean a great deal to the kids and to my wife.
Don’t get me wrong. I was also prepared for the potential problems that in-laws living next door could bring. I had already devised a flag system, for example, to protect my privacy when necessary.
Red flag: Don’t even think about coming over.
Blue flag: Feel free to come over if you’d like.
White flag: Get your ass over here pronto.
Unfortunately, my in-laws rejected my idea of buying the house next door and continue to split their time between New York City and the Berkshires. We see them quite often, but not often enough for my daughter’s liking.
Not to mention the missed opportunity for next door babysitting on almost any night of the week.
But there may be a solution to our in-law housing needs:
Officially known as a MED Cottage, these are 288-square-foot self-contained miniature houses that fit in most backyards, with a bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom. What sets them apart from other portable, yard-friendly houses are the Granny Pod’s "smart robotic features" that monitor the inhabitant's vital signs, filter contaminants from the air, and allow the inhabitants to easily communicate with the main house.
While my in-laws don’t require any of the medical features that Granny Pods offer, a small house in the backyard might be the perfect way to keep my in-law’s close by but not underfoot.
Sort of like an elaborate doghouse or a backyard shed with amenities.
With my flag system, of course.