The Evolving future of the Jackson Hole Guest Home
Accessory residential units enhance housing stock and property values.
by Staff Writers
As property values continue to rise across the Mountain West and available housing inventory declines, homeowners are exploring additional ways to maximize the potential of their real estate investments for personal—and community— benefit alike. One increasingly popular option among communities in the Jackson Hole region is the incorporation of accessory residential units (ARUs) within a property.
Property owners have the option to re-imagine the traditional guest home paradigm towards uses that favor housing diversity, sustainable community development, and additional income potential.
While ARUs undeniably enhance property values, their secondary impact lies in their ability to enrich the broader community by helping to augment housing opportunities throughout region. By providing unique housing inventory, ARUs are able to accommodate diverse living arrangements, and are ideally suited to multi-generational families, young professionals, retirees, and others.
“In-law suites” are among the more commonly accepted uses of ARUs within Teton County, Wyoming. Multi-generational housing is often permitted in areas of the county that would otherwise prohibit multi-family use—as in the leasing of a guest home. These apartment-style suites are typically attached to a primary residence and often provide a separate entrance. In-law suites offer opportunities for expanded living arrangements, allowing families to stay connected while maintaining independence—a benefit that can be especially valuable in elder care situations.
In a region where conservation is a community priority and additional development opportunities are limited, ARUs can promote limited and sustainable community development by utilizing existing infrastructure and aiding in the minimization of overall environmental impact. By repurposing underutilized spaces within residential properties—especially in the town of Jackson—thoughtful ARU implementation can contribute to smart density, with the added benefits of walkable neighborhoods and reduced developmental sprawl.
In addition to their cultural and environmental benefits, ARUs play a vital role in addressing housing affordability challenges in Jackson Hole. The scarcity of available housing options has been a prominent theme in the area for decades. In areas of the county that allow long-term rentals, ARUs provide a practical solution by offering alternative housing options that are accessible to a broader range of income levels and individual needs. This opportunity for affordable and varied housing stock not only benefits owners and residents, but also contributes to the economic diversity and vitality of Jackson Hole’s broader community. The “caretaker’s home” concept that has long been established on larger properties now has more scalable opportunities for year-round housing that can be implemented more broadly within the region.
The economic value provided by incorporating ARUs is obviously not limited to the community impact alone. Homeowners often enhance their property values and generate additional income through implementation of these less-traditional rental opportunities, which can help to offset mortgage expenses and property taxes.
Despite these benefits, owners must navigate regulatory requirements and zoning ordinances that govern ARU construction and operation. Size, design, and occupancy are subject to varying degrees of regulation depending on the property’s location, specific land use regulations, and any additional neighborhood restrictions. Homeowners should consult with a real estate professional, planner, architect, and real estate attorney to successfully navigate the nuances of any particular property’s ability to utilize an ARU.
These varied and unique residential units play an increased role in enhancing a property’s versatility and value, promoting sustainable development, and helping to address community housing challenges on a micro scale. Through thoughtful planning and implementation, ARUs can contribute a pathway to a more vibrant and sustainable future for residents of Jackson Hole.