Mother in Law Wants to Move into a Potential Granny Flat to Be Built at Our Place

I don’t know if she’s serious but she has asked the question. She said she will retire soon and can’t afford to live alone. She said the reason she has no savings was because she was a single mother?

I hate this lady. What is my obligation? Or what can I say?


  • I think if it did actually happen your wife would regret it in the long term as well, sure its nice to be close to family but there are certain boundaries required to keep a healthy relationship with your parents and with your husband/wife. Granny flat or same house, both just as bad. Hope its just a joke…

    • +2

      Once MIL is in it will be impossible to get her out

  • Public/Community Housing 25 percent of her income (pension etc). The following link is SA, similar Australia wide.

    Anyway, who is potentially paying for the building of this 'potential' granny flat??

  • +3

    Divorce brother. Run for the hills.

  • +1

    Do everything in your power to get council to reject your plans to build a granny flat in your backyard. Heck, put in complaints on your neighbors behalf!

  • You need to keep this between you and your partner. Why does OzB's collective opinion matter?

    And get relationship counselling. If you can't talk about this sort of thing, you guys need help from a professional.

    • +2

      Why does OzB's collective opinion matter?

      You clearly underestimate the collective knowledge the ozb community have. In no small part to discounted use my courses.


      • +1

        Exactly! I learnt so much from everyone’s posts and it didn’t cost me anything.

  • +2

    Build the granny flat cough future man cave

    She doesn't cook?, Perfect, you'll cook perfectly safe food every day for your beloved MIL right….?

  • +1

    Take care of her. It's the right thing to do.

    • +2

      MIL doesnt need any care
      She is still working and only 60

  • +2

    Tell the wife that your parents are splitting up and your mum needs a place to stay and see if she says no and then tell her no to her mum moving in

    • +1

      That’s a good one

    • +1

      Just say OPs parents want to move into the granny flat and see what OPs wife says.
      That will put some balance back into the equation

  • +5
  • -2

    Well if she wants to finance the granny flat build under your title then who are you to stop her…. If she doesn't you don't have the money to build a granny flat anyway……!

    If the bank's paying the money for the build someone will have to repay the bank. If she's volunteering to repay the bank in her own name on your behalf, who're you to stop her……!

    • +3

      The bank will want security over OPs property
      So Op becomes ultimately responsible for the repayments
      Therein lies the problem

    • "who are you to stop her" wot??

  • +4

    The long term implications are pretty clear. It really doesn't mean that she'll be minding her own business if she has her own granny flat. She'd expect you guys to provide care for her in every other way such as providing meals, chauffeuring her if she needs to get somewhere, hell even chilling in the main house because she needs company (no privacy for you). All this especially since she will be in very close proximity.

    • +4

      Exactly!!! That’s what’s running through my head.

      • Thats not all that will be running!!!!

  • +4


  • +1

    Out of curiosity , if you and the missus were renting and the MIL had a huge backyard , would you have ever considered asking her if you could build in her backyard?

    • +4

      No way and she would charge us market value rent. That’s the problem. She would never do anything to help us.

      • +8

        Well there is your answer

        • +2

          But the wife can’t see this.

          • +2

            @Tomstars241: Bang! And there is your problem.

            Nothing to do with granny flat. Nothing to do with money. Not even anything to do with MIL.

            If, after your years of being together your wife is not attuned enough to your feelings in this regard… and on the other hand, if you are not communicative enough to be able to articulate your own feelings to her…

            One would expect that the mutual commitment to your relationship (and the upbringing of your kids) would take precedence over a newly-arisen external factor. But it seems not.

            There are many reasons that a huge minority of relationships ultimately fail (possibly a major reason being that long term monogamy is inherently 'unstable' for human great apes); lack of effective communications is near the top of the list.

  • +3

    Buy a caravan.

    You and your wife then get in and get as far away from her as possible

    • +2

      Now that's some funnysht 😂

  • +2

    You're in a really tough spot.

    On the one hand I hate how we discard our old people these days. On the other hand you have very strong feelings about your MIL and living with her in your face every day is going to be terrible for your mental health and your marriage. It doesn't help that you think in your shoes she wouldn't help you. (Wether that is true or not hardly matters. That's how you feel it is.)

    Your marriage is probably in trouble anyway. You're acting like a child that's frightened his parent (not partner) will find out they've gone and asked for advice on a message board. You've also posted this on a bargain site, rather than spoken discretely to someone you trust or had an honest adult conversation with your partner. Your answer is going to be to speak to her and see if you can come up with a plan together you both can live with. If she won't even take your concerns onboard, or you hers, or if you can't find a common ground somewhere, you're in real trouble.

    Welcome to being a patriarch. And you thought patriarchy was just some evil conspiracy feminists complained about when moustache twirling men subjugated them. Here's a context in which you never hear about it these days.

    Good luck.

    • wait Pariachs don't just get to laugh atop a pile of gold ?

  • +1

    If you hate her don't do it.

    You know, back in the stone age, the local sabre tooth came in handy for a reason.

  • Sounds like the MIL may have been abusive/manipulative to your wife growing up. I would explore this a bit with your wife, not necessarily asking if she was abusive directly but perhaps ask about the common signs of manipulation and emotional abuse (look up online), your wife might relate. But may not realise or consider it 'abuse'. Especially since your wife is funny about talking about her mum, she might be scared of her, not wanting to upset her, and have some bad memories etc. May be a long process to get her to open up so will likely have to be patient. But you really do need to discuss this with your wife.

    But if any of that ends up being true then 100% don't build the granny flat.

    Also, for some people its okay for their MIL to live with them/in the back yard, but this sounds like a bad situation.

  • don't worry, she hates you as well, you took what she had

  • If she is 60 she doesn't have to retire yet, she can keep working and adding to her super. She can save, budget and stop spending up on holidays and take away food and plan ahead so she can afford to live on her own on the pension. All of this she should have been doing for the past few years while she has been working just like the rest of us have to do.
    This is her problem, not her children's or your problem.
    Don't build a granny flat.
    Make your spare room into a functioning room for your family not for her to have the option of claiming it.
    All the signs are there that this will not work for you and your family.
    If she is too lazy to clean and cook for herself what's going to happen when she lives with you?
    My own mother has dropped multiple hints that I should put a granny flat in my past 2 homes so she can move in. I got sick of it and told her to drop the subject as it "ain't gonna happen". My mum owns her own unit and is financially sound so she doesn't need our help anyway.

  • +2

    Is she a Karen ?

  • +4

    Build a wall around your house and get your mother in law to pay for it. Tell her it's for her security when she retires. You know what to do after the wall is built, right?

  • -1

    I believe it’s called “ménage à trois

  • +8

    Interesting thread.
    A few questions:
    1. If it was your mother wanting to come live with you, what would you say? ( Ignore what your wife thinks- this is just what you would feel).
    2. Have you considered that the strained relations with MIL is just a misunderstanding?
    3. Have you considered talking with your wife that you are going to discuss the possibility, but get her to note your concerns and agree how you will mitigate any risk by setting clear rules and protocols for behaviour ( don't be too restrictive, but state E what is acceptable and what is not)?
    4. Have you really considered the fact that having grandparents in the home is better for the kids? In terms of discipline, school grades, and relationships.

    Am an Indian-Australian, so the whole concept of not having your parents live with you is strange/ alien to how we have been brought up with.

    Of course my parents or my wife parents are more than welcome to live with us- not in granny house, but in the same house as us, as a family.
    We feel blessed to have them in our lives.
    But it is quite interesting in reading about the various comments.

    • aussies are different bro. going dutch is like the norm.

      remember ryan's mum?

      not sure why people are down voting you though.

    • Thank you for typing all of that. My family is not Aussie and I agree with what your saying. They cook, clean and look after our kids for free while we work. They own their own house.

      MIL is different. No helping out. Going Dutch is the norm for her but in saying that my Aussie friend looks after her grand kids for free and helps with cooking etc. It might be a culture thing on average.

  • Are you sure it isn't actually a running joke between them? I have a running joke with my folks about moving back into the place but would never actually do so. Perhaps it is you who is being over sensitive.

    That said, if it is true I wouldn't do it. She could live for another 30+ years relatively easily. What if you wanted to move house, would you be expected to stay put unless you can find somewhere with a granny flat?

    Also, as many others have said,try having a chat with your wife. If she has tried to dismiss it as a joke previously, you can acknowledge that and just say you want to discuss it anyway to make sure you are on the same page.

    • She went out of her way to ask me, that’s when I thought it wasn’t a joke. How could I find that funny.

  • This should be your answer: "Yeah nah".

  • I would of said depends on your relationship with her but im gathering from the "i hate this lady" that it isnt great.

    The fact she has no savings is an alarm she sounds like a bit of a leech.

    Does she have assets? does she currently own a property? perhaps she could sell that buy a small place somewhere close to you like NOT on your property….

    • Yes definitely a leech. No assets.

  • Say the council and neighbours object.

    Also it turns out the backyard was a burial ground.

  • Its simple. Get her to live in someone else's granny flat. You pay for it out of the money you get from the other tenants living in your granny flat.

    • +1

      Nek minute MIL say wait up. Why can't I live in ops granny flat instead?

  • Did you hate her before you got married? If you did then why?

    • I didn’t know her that well at the start. The more she comes over the more I know what type of person she is.

      • Oh dang! How about tiny house on wheels and you can drag her out!

        • A caravan?

          • +1

            @Tomstars241: Netflix or Google Tiny house on wheels and you know what I mean.

      • Sounds like my MIL. If I'd have known what she was really like before I moved here, there's a decent chance I wouldn't have got married in the first place. It was fine when we were in another country as we were outside her range of influence, but her emotional blackmail started within hours of landing in the country (similar to your "I can always move in with you" but relating to my handicapped SIL). After a few years we finally cut off all contact with MIL as my wife eventually realised that she was "a nasty piece of work" (wife's words). Then MIL died a few years ago and her awful behaviour just seems to have been adopted by my wife and she's treating our kids the same way her mother treated her.

        Everyone's story is different and I don't really have any advice for you, but just know that you're not alone in a shitty situation and the people acting like you're being unreasonable are rather naive.

  • Make sure you log out of OzBargain so your wife doesn't read this thread.

    • She checks it everyday is my concern! Didn’t think it was make it to the front page!

      • Does she know your account name ?

        • +5

          No she doesn’t but the topic is obvious

      • +2

        Oh no Tomstar. I'd suggest getting an admin to DELETE this thread ASAP.

        • +1

          I suggest OP tests the situation ASAP. He needs to know if he's been compromised and exposed.

          Hit up the wife for a beejay. If she rejects, nuke this thread from orbit before the lawyers get screenshots.

  • +1

    No woman will accept the word "No" especially when it comes to her mother. Dude, you got to accept your fate :)

    If Asian woman it even worst :)

  • Just my 2 cents, I have absolutely no idea of your personal circumstances so please take this with a grain of salt. You need to make the decision that is right for you and your family.

    Put yourself in your mother in law's shoes. If your relationship is strained, then the act of her bringing it up must mean she's more than a little bit worried about her future. What are the values which are important to you and your family. If these family values are important to you, then use it as an opportunity to walk the walk and just not talk. Everyone gets old and it's easy not to have enough saved up for retirement. Your children will see what you do which in turn sets the "norm."

  • You can buy a house in remote area for 50k and ship her out there and she can live of oap.

  • Suggestions

    Get a job overseas - particularly in a country where you MIL cant be your dependent on your visa or a country which you MIL doesn't like or is not suitable
    Get a job interstate - particularly a state or town which your MIL doesn't like or not suitable
    Persuade your mortgage lender - that you do not have the means to support the cost of repaying your Granny flat e.g. exaggerate your outgoing expenses
    Rent out an investment property to her (make sure she receiving some sort of rental assistance to assure income)

    However if she does end up moving in
    Make sure shes signed up for rent assistance - that will help you and your wifes bottom line
    Ozbargain a smart phone and data plan and get you MIL on to online dating Tinder perhaps - so she can meet an old guy who wouldn't mind her company - so she goes off to live with him or go on the big lap
    Have kids - and begin to take your MIL for granted - she may want to leave so that she has her own space
    Move in your own parents
    Relationship counselling with your partner
    Hobbies, friends, work commitments, kids extra-curricular activities (recommended as your misus cant really complain) - minimise your time at home

    • No, just be a man. Say no.

    • In WA you can only get rental assistance if your are renting from a 3rd party, not a family member or relation.

      She could always Air BnB any spare rooms she has and would probably make a decent profit.

  • If you don't want her to live there just tell her straight up, it would be really annoying if she thinks she has chance to live there because you give her false hope.

  • +1

    Starting to wonder if this is one of the more subtle OzB trolls I've seen. OP is scared wife will read this because it hit the front page, but the next day is still happy to elaborate on why he hates his MIL and what makes her a horrible person. OP is either dense, or a troll. Who the hell goes online and publicly trashes their in laws in detail when he knows his wife may be reading it?

    • +1

      The damage would of already been done on the first day I started typing about this. It makes no difference if I keep on responding now.

      • +2

        You're wrong. You've hit rock bottom, and now you're digging with professional tools and dynamite.

    • IMHO OP's hoping (consciously or not) that his wife will read the thread so he doesn't have to drop the bomb in person… just being subtly passive aggressive…

      • I guess that's possible, but if so, it might be quicker and less painful to just find a divorce lawyer.

  • silver lining - free babysitting?

    • She wouldn’t baby sit, maybe an hour max a week.

  • +1

    Start collecting nursing home brochures. Leave them everywhere. MIL is using psychological manipulation. Fight fire with fire :)

  • +1

    Well… You hate this lady… You don't know if she is serious about that, and apparently you don't talk to your partner about that either. Communication is the main issue here…

    The second issue is that you are asking if you should put someone you hate inside your place. I believe you know the answer.

  • Well, Yes you have the right to say no but basically you have thrown your wife under the bus.

    How can your wife live peacefully for the rest of her live??? Knowing her mum is kicked out to the streets.

    You can only say no if there are alternatives acceptable and reasonable.

    Saying NO is easy part.

  • 'a Potential Granny Flat to Be Built at Our Place'

    'I hate this lady. What is my obligation? Or what can I say?'

    Gee - I couldn't get approval to build ! - sorry (not sorry!)

    Like the note in the iPhone brought in to the repair shop - here's $100 to say you can't fix it - I don't want my wife to see what's on my phone …

  • I have rarely seen a mother in law moving in work out well n the long run, 2 of my friends are both divorced because over the years, it grates on the relationship and just makes it worse. I would seriously advise against it, even if the relationship is good to begin with, which in this case it is not.

    The fact is, you have to prioritize your relationship first, and she should understand this. Your wife will end up more miserable in the long run also, being stuck between you and her mother, both being unhappy. If it goes ahead, it will not end well, I guarantee it, I love my mother in law, but after a week straight even she starts to get on nerves.

    • I agree. I’ve heard stories of people breaking up because of their in laws and that’s not even living together!

  • Who is paying to design and build the granny flat (at a minimum you need a draftsman and building surveyor to put together the design and building permit)? does your MIL currently own her own home or renting?

    • Renting but she had super I’m guessing about 100k

      • so you and your wife would be footing the bill for it all….
        if you don't get on with her now it's likely not going to get better with her moving in to a room or the back yard, aside from the financial and emotional pressures being placed on you and your wife (assuming you don't have kids).

        personally I love my MIL and we get on really well. TBH i could live with her, I doubt my wife could live with her again. there's always something that will come up….

  • I'm glad my Outlaws are moving to QLD and not into a granny flat where I live! Be open to your partner, and compromise or else you're better off single if you have no say in the relationship.

  • You need to say no.

    Don't complicate it with justifications that can be argued against. This is the time for an absolutely non-negotiable No.

    • You've said this multiple times yet given no consideration to everything that follows after the "no".

      • What follows that, is no mother-in-law living in the back yard.

        This is non-negotiable so he should just be direct and say so.

        It's far more honest and principled than pretending it's negotiable - and then trying to worm out of every suggested compromise.

        • Honest, yes, but also a massive over-simplification of how life is. It's easy to say "just say no" multiple times, but if you're not being realistic of the repercussions of that then you're not really adding anything of use.

          • +1

            @banana365: There is no repercussion that could outweigh having a mother-in-law you already can't stand living in your backyard for the next 30 years.

            So it really is that simple - this is the hill you want to die on.

  • +12

    Another thing you can try, is go on a family holiday with the MIL, for say 12-15 days. Keep your mouth shut, and stay out of everything, and what can happen (as did in my case) was my wife and MIL drove each other nuts, and the result is that my wife would never let her mum move in with us.

    What your wife will realize is that it was probably a long time ago that she lived with her mum, and she has forgotten many things. After being told what to do, constantly being judged by her mum and clashing for a week or two, her memory will quickly be refreshed and common sense prevail. Sometimes, you have to setup the environment so THEY come to the conclusion, telling em wont work.

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