For retirees caring for parents, in-law suites are favored Many retired or soon-to-be-retired people are thinking about how they will care for a parent safely but not as expensively as assisted living, a nursing home or a retirement community. "In-law" apartments have been around for years, but they are becoming increasingly popular. Though they require an initial investment, the cost of watching over a loved one is fairly low after that. It could be as simple as a sitting room attached to a bedroom. More than 3.6 million parents lived with their adult children in 2007, a 67 percent increase from 2000, says the Census Bureau. The 500- to 700-square foot additions to a home (or repurposing of existing rooms) include a bedroom, bathroom and living area. Some have a kitchenette and some offer access to the home's main kitchen. It depends on how agile the parent is. Those who have built the in-law quarters say they are very pleased with the arrangement. Both the parent and the family have their privacy, and if the parent needs help, they are on the premises to give it. While the goal for such arrangements is to keep loved ones close, Angie Hicks of Angie's List says homeowners can also consider the future use of the space. It could be rented out, used to house boomerang kids or friends between jobs. Done correctly the apartment will add to the home's value at resale time, especially now when many home buyers want the in-law apartment feature. When constructing, be sure to follow zoning ordinances. Have doors and aisles that are wide enough for wheelchair access and plenty of grab bars in the bathroom.