Vantage West Home

One Home Is Better Than Two: Guest homes for affordability and family

The past decade has seen a surge in multigenerational living where more than one generation lives in the same home. Perhaps due to the costs of caretaking and the desire to reconnect with family, 1 in 5 Americans now lives in a multigenerational home, according to a Pew Research analysis.

But with Tucson’s median new home price soaring to a record $236,838 in 2017, according to the Tucson Association of Realtors, families are looking for affordable options to accommodate the multigenerational shift. One popular option is to purchase or build a guest house or in-law apartment. Guest quarters provide a great balance of affordability and privacy, while keeping family close. They also serve to add value to the primary home.

While in-law apartments are generally associated with aging parents moving in with their children, the trend has recently shifted in the opposite direction. A Pew Research Poll found that more than 32% of adults ages 18 to 34 now live with their parents.

Regardless of your reasons for needing guest quarters, there are a few issues to think about before you begin your search.

Personal Considerations

The purpose of your guest home should inform the design of the structure. The need for privacy is usually one of the top issues to consider, as young couples or retiring parents tend to desire more privacy, whereas an elderly parent needing round-the-clock care might need a guest home located closer to the primary home.

Interior design should also be considered, as it is important for the occupant to be able to design their home to their preference. Keep this in mind when making decisions like painting walls or employing other aesthetic changes.

Guest homes can also be utilized to take in visitors through Airbnb and other short-term rental services. Last year, Arizona passed a law that bans cities, towns, and counties from restricting short-term rentals, enabling a guest house owner to earn additional income. If this is a route you plan to go, you’ll want to consider using soft, neutral colors instead of making the space too much your own.

Structural Considerations

There are also a number of laws and regulations you’ll need to familiarize yourself with regarding guest homes. Some of the regulations in Pima County may include:

  • A minimum lot size
  • Number of guest houses allowed
  • Number of parking spaces per bedroom
  • Guidelines for access to the guest home and main dwelling
  • Regulations applying to utility meters
  • Limitations on the allowable size of the guest home in relation to the primary home

There are numerous other laws and regulations on guest houses, so be sure to do your research before you begin the guest home search. Pima County’s full list of building codes can be found easily online.

Vantage West: Be Our Guest

With a high concentration of retirees, Tucson boasts a wide variety of guest homes for sale. At any given time, homes with casitas or guest attachments are available all over the city, especially in the east side neighborhoods. Guest accommodations are less common on the south side and in the downtown areas, where there’s more dense housing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find something there, too.

If you’re interested in a home with guest accommodations, contact the Vantage West home loan team at 800-888-7882 or visit And if you want to research the various neighborhoods of Tucson for lifestyle attributes, average home prices, and more, check out our Neighborhood Explorer.

Loans subject to approval. Mortgage options subject to change without notice. Certain restrictions may apply. NMLS #485751.

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