Moving in with family or friends is a common choice for older adults who no longer can or want to live on their own. And while these types of living arrangements may be convenient and affordable, they need to be given careful thought and consideration. 

An Accessory Dwelling Unit, also referred to as an in-law suite or “granny flat,” is a popular option that helps you maintain independence, close to those who will care for you. It requires an additional living space with a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom on the property of your family or friend. ADUs can be inside the home (modify a basement), attached to the home (convert a garage), or detached (a separate unit in the yard). 

Before you choose this kind of living arrangement, find out if your family or friend’s home is in a “single-family zone.” An ADU cannot be created without an ordinance or special exception from the municipality. Unfortunately, there is no consistent standard for ADUs across York County’s 72 municipalities and many of the municipalities do not have ordinances in place to support ADUs. 

If your municipality does not have an ordinance in place, they may be willing to add one, but it will take time. If it does have an ordinance in place, it may have restrictions — such as needing to tear down the ADU after the older adult passes. 

Proactively Set Boundaries

It’s not uncommon for people — you and your family or friend — to feel like they are being taken advantage of. Or that they have to conform to a particular way of living that negatively impacts their overall health.

But moving in with them doesn’t mean a loss of personal space, boundaries, or independence. 

Before you make the move, set clear boundaries. Talk about expectations, things that bother you, or things that need to change. Respect each other’s space, schedule, and needs. These things may seem insignificant now, but they will make a big difference later. 


Find the joy: Changes to one’s environment are sure to bring on stress and challenges. And that’s okay! When you find yourself experiencing moments of frustration or miscommunication, find a reason to smile. There is good behind every door — even if that door is in someone else’s home.

Before You Move

Depending on where you decide to move, you may have less space.  Determining what to take and not take can be a difficult one.  Use these four questions to guide you:

  1. Do I need it or want it?
  2. Does it have sentimental value?
  3. Do I use it often?
  4. Is it the only item I have that performs the function?

You may be tempted to say “yes” to all these questions for every item in your home.  Be realistic.  If you haven’t used the fondue pot for the past five years, is it an item you really need, even if it was a gift from your son?

A tip to help let go of sentimental items – take a photo of the item.  Put the photo in a scrap book and include notes about it, like who bought it, when/why was it given, and some top memories associated with it.  The scrap book makes a great family heirloom to pass down through the generations.

TroveStreet is Here to Help

If you haven’t already, create an online profile with TroveStreet where you can jot down things you want to keep handy based on what you read or save this article for easy access. TroveStreet offers a Quick-Start Planning Tool with four questions to facilitate your planning. If you have questions or want to connect with a Planning Navigator, call TroveStreet at 717-363-1129.

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