Why renting an apartment makes sense for visiting the grands.

“I love coming to your apartment!” said Charlotte, grinning ear to ear as she accesses the code to open the front door to our rented apartment. 

For years, every time we have visited our son and his family at their home in Washington state, we stayed in a spare bedroom in their basement. That worked out fine and the family “hosted” us well!


  • Maximum time with the kids.
  • No cost.
  • No need to rent a car.


  • Hard to find enough time to rest … and when we do rest, we feel guilty.
  • We have a tendency to overdo helping with meals, laundry, etc. and living under their roof encourages this.

But things change …

Our son started working from home about a year ago and the spare bedroom became a home office. Each of us could maybe sleep in one of the grandkids’ rooms and they would be on the floor in a sleeping bag. But we knew that would be a strain on everyone involved.

A hotel might have been an option but since our visits are usually a few weeks, we searched on websites such as VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owners) and Airbnb. We looked for an apartment  to rent for the length of our stay. We selected a place close to their house so going back and forth would not be a big deal. Our son and his wife said we could use one of their cars.

The result? A great idea!

After staying in an apartment on trips for the last year, we can positively say this has turned out to be a terrific change.

Time to rest — without guilt. We used to take rest breaks in our basement guest room but felt guilty hearing the activity of the house upstairs. Driving away is hard, but it’s like taking off a band-aid. We do it … go back to our apartment and put up our feet. One glass of wine, please! And oh, the quiet cup of morning coffee. When we arrive at their home, we are energized!

We get precious one-on-one time. With their growing family, we never were able to create one-on-one time except in very small chunks. But with our apartment, we have overnight stays for the children one at a time. What a joy! We pamper the visitor, fuss over everything, cook their favorite items, focus on him or her alone — all those advantages of being an only grandchild. “I just love it here!” Fiona will say every fifteen minutes. Sebastian is too little for an overnight stay, but we host him alone often, so the Big Kids can do an activity or outing with their parents.

Anderson and Grandpa get some quality, quiet time
on the balcony of our apartment.

Our son and his wife have a getaway place. While we are at their house with the grands, our son and our daughter-in-law sometimes come over to our apartment for a peaceful getaway place, even for an afternoon.

We feel more like “in-town” grandparents! We do things like baking brownies in the evening at our apartment to surprise the kids the next day … having our daughter-in-law drop the kids at our apartment, at our request, so she can have tea with a girlfriend.

I remember helping my grandmother clean, way back when.
Fiona said “Sure!” when we asked her if she wanted to sweep. She loved our style of
sweeper so much she said, “When I have my own house, I’m going to get one of these vacuums.”

The only disadvantage of having our own place? The cost. Ouch. Nothing about the Pacific Northwest is cheap.


My article on Following the House Rules offers suggestions for visiting grandparents. Check it out!

Have you ever rented a place instead of staying with your kids? How did it work out? Please share in the Comments section below.



11 thoughts on “Why renting an apartment makes sense for visiting the grands.”

  1. Now you’ve got me wondering. Maybe a separate place is a better idea especially for longer visits. We’ve always stayed with our daughter but now with three grandkids and us getting older, we get so worn out so fast.

  2. My husband and I tried this same idea out on our September visit to celebrate our granddaughter’s fifth birthday. We are 600 miles from their Florida home, and found a simple Airbnb apartment about two miles from our son’s house. It was such a great way to give everybody some time apart. When our grandson, age 2, would go down for a nap, we slipped out and rested at our own place. Their guest room has also become a home office. The grands enjoyed visiting at our apartment as well. Next time, I plan to look for a spot that’s more kid friendly, but we definitely enjoyed some quiet coffee mornings, middle of the day rest breaks.

    • Donna, you and I are cut from the same cloth! I’m glad it worked out for you as it’s working out for us.

      Our place happens to be kid friendly, but we weren’t searching for that. Just dumb luck that we got it.

      Thanks for sharing. Isn’t it nice to find a kindred spirit!


  3. I totally recommend from our experience. We are indeed faraways living in Melbourne Australia ourselves and visiting Copenhagen in Denmark.On our 2 visits there(2 girls 6 and 8) and their 2 visits to Australia we have used other accommodation- Danish apartments are tiny, daughter in law needs her space, we need rest time!
    We have organised as follows- swapped our place with Dane wanting to visit Australia, seeking out a neighbour going on holidays and leaving an empty apartment through a letter drop, and using airbnb, son finding accomm for us through a work colleague. Very happy memories may not be repeated for ages sadly!

    • Nice to hear from you, Kerry.

      My goodness, your trips are far from simple to arrange! But worth it when you wrap your arms around your granddaughters.

      My husband and I were wondering just the other day about swapping homes. How did you find someone? Was it a service or website you used? I’d love to know.


  4. Thanks Jane. My daughter, SIL and 2 young kids are moving into our house for a 3 months while they wait for their new build to be ready. My SIL is now working from home so that takes up another room. I am thinking of renting an apartment close by for my husband and I for a month or two so we can all have some space; while it may be expensive I suspect it will be worth every penny. And I know if I stay in the house I’ll feel guilty if I’m not helping every moment! And we are not getting any younger and need our down time. Your comments have confirmed for me that having a separate place close by is the way to go!


Leave a comment (your email address will not be shared)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.