Lots of cooks, a mortgage. Multigenerational homes take off in Calgary | Radio-Canada News

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Calgary has seen a mini-boom in homes purpose-built for multi-generational living, primarily led by the Indian community.

At first these were concentrated in the new northeast communities of Cornerbrook and Homestead. But Trico Homes sales area manager Akshat Mathur says demand is also growing in the southeast community of Pine Creek.

Trico is one of many builders building these new models in many communities around the city, and Mathur is even building one for himself.

“I love it,” Mathur said. “The secondary suite – it’s amazing.”

What sets multigenerational homes apart is that they either have a basement suite with a full kitchen and separate entrance, or a downstairs bedroom and bathroom instead of a den. and a bathroom.

Akshat Mathur, Sales Area Manager for Trico Homes. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Mathur says the average price for an 1,800 square foot home with a downstairs bedroom and full bath is around $500.

Mathur says that since Trico made the plans available in 2019, demand has grown from two to three sales per month to more than 10 per month, almost exclusively to South Asian buyers.

Families living in these homes say multigenerational living can be a boon for all family members, especially as inflation, rent and childcare costs make living apart more expensive.

CBC Calgary met with two families living in these homes to see how they operate.

Back row, left to right: Sajja’s mother-in-law, Usha Rani Sunkara; Sajja’s mother, Venkata Durga Lakshmi; Sajja’s father, Venkateswara Rao Sajja. Front row, left to right: Sajja’s husband, Alok Sagar Aetukuri; Bhavya Sajja with her daughter, Akshara Aetukuri; Sajja’s brother, Rakesh Sajja. (Bhavya Sajja)

Bhavya Sajj: “They kicked us out of the kitchen”

For Bhavya Sajja, multigenerational living is more about emotional support than saving money.

“It feels really good to have parents who stay with us,” says Sajja, who immigrated to Calgary from India in 2018. “My mental health improved after my mother arrived. It’s a different kind of happiness.

She and her husband, Alok Aetukuri, recently moved into their new four-bedroom home in northeast Calgary, which was specifically designed to be multi-generational. They live with their daughter, her younger brother, her parents and her mother.

“The house is perfect,” Aetukuri said, noting the downstairs bedroom and bathroom for her mother, who has difficulty climbing stairs.

My mental health improved after my mother arrived. It is a different kind of happiness.​​​​​​-Bhavya Sajja

Sajja and her husband work full time. They say the extra helping hands relieve the stress of everyday life.

Sajja says she hasn’t had to cook meals since her mother and mother-in-law moved in.

Neither will let her or her husband help.

“They kick us out of the kitchen and don’t let us do anything,” Sajja said. “All we do is take care of our work… I don’t have to worry about where we leave our daughter or when I’m going to finish my cooking. ‘spirit.”

It goes both ways. Aetukuri says it’s also easier to take care of her aging parents when they live together.

“If you leave your parents at home [in India], you always think of them,” Aetukuri explained. ” They are old. No one is there to take care of them. It’s easier if they’re there. We can take care of them if anything is needed.”

A portrait of a woman
Manjot Dhillon lives with her husband, daughter and in-laws in a purpose-built, multi-generational home in northeast Calgary. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

Manjot Dhillon: “I sent my daughter with them”

Manjot Dhillon trusts her in-laws so much that she once sent her 16-month-old baby home with them to India while she and her husband worked several jobs in British Columbia.

“I sent my daughter with them…for about five months,” Dhillon said. “And even now she sleeps with them.”

It’s the kind of bond she has with her in-laws who she barely knew when they moved in together two years ago.

All three generations now live in a new home in Calgary, in the model with a downstairs bedroom and bathroom so grandparents don’t have to climb stairs.

“There is no way we can let our parents live alone, especially in their old age.”

And caregiving goes both ways. With another baby on the way, the in-laws have been very supportive.

A brand new modern looking kitchen next to a house specifically designed to accommodate multiple generations.
One of the kitchens inside a house specifically designed for multi-generational living, which is becoming more and more common in Calgary. (Dan McGarvey/CBC)

“We help each other. Especially since my mother-in-law was so helpful with my first baby,” Dhillon said. “She was the one who cooked for us, cleaned for us, even did the laundry for us.”

She says living without parents is not an option in their culture.

“It’s like that,” said Dhillon, who also grew up with her grandparents. “That’s how we were brought up. We don’t have any other way of thinking.”

She says having such close relationships means family members also have to take time for themselves. For her, she will take the time to watch TV. But the benefits are clear, and Dhillon recommends those unaccustomed to multi-generational living at least think about it.

“I would say go for it,” Dhillon said. “The older generation can take care of the younger generation and pass on mores, traditions and that can also pay off in terms of childcare. [And] instead of paying two mortgages, they just have to split one.”

Her mother-in-law, Satvir Dhillon, says she takes walks when she needs more space and does her own religious rituals early every morning. But she cannot imagine living apart from her family, especially her granddaughter.

“She loves him more than us,” Manjot Dhillon said with a laugh.

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