Another way to find a home in close-in urban neighborhoods is to look for back yard cottages, also known as mother-in-law cottages. More and more cities are allowing these small homes to be built on large urban lots. Homeowners usually rent a backyard cottage out for extra income to pay the mortgage and always appreciate tenants who plan to stay long-term.
If you are looking for a backyard cottage to rent, or plan to build a backyard cottage, check with your local city planning office for zoning information. The planning office will have maps of residential neighborhoods where mother-in-law suites (sometimes called accessory dwelling units) are allowed. Once you locate a cottage to rent it is also a good idea to contact the planning office to make sure that the cottage shows up on the property’s plat map. If it doesn’t, it may not have been officially permitted and may not be built to safe building standards.