Buying a Cottage

Question: p

Answer: There are several long term benefits to owning a cottage that extend beyond the simple use and enjoyment of your recreation home. The ultimate goal is also to see your property value increase during the time you own it. 

When determining the best location to purchase a cottage, budget usually becomes the first deciding factor. In Ontario, Muskoka has traditionally been the most coveted location, but it comes at a price. According to the 2013 Royal Lepage Recreational Property Report, waterfront properties in Muskoka average between $525,000 to $625,000. On the other hand, waterfront properties in Kingston/Ganaonoque will run you between $185,000 to $325,000. You can link to a price summary for the entire country from that same report.

After budget constraints have been determined, and you are able to narrow down possible locations based on affordability – I would determine your threshold for traveling from your home to your cottage. We’ve all either experienced or heard about those long weekend drives to the cottage. Nothing kills the momentum and spirit of the weekend like a four-hour drive that should have taken two.

By this point, you should have a pretty good idea of locations that would work for your situation. This is where we can start to determine physical features of your recreational property.

Are you planning to use the cottage year-round or only during warm months? If you are looking for the former, you will need to either purchase a “winterized” property or retrofit it at a later date. A “winterized” cottage means that all the mechanical systems are able to function during cold months. For example, pipes would need to be insulated and water would need to be supplied to the property. Many cottages don’t have insulated walls or any source of heat – yet another key consideration. Finally, road access in some rural areas tend to be limited during winter months. Either they aren’t maintained by the city or there are accessed by dirt roads. I know some owners who access their cottages via snowmobiles from the main road in winter months.

Still interested? Now that you’ve done the proper due diligence you can start to narrow down on some of the fun stuff you would like to have with your cottage. If you plan to use a boat or any other water vessel, you will have to decide if water access will suffice or if you would like to be waterfront. Typically, there is a premium to be waterfront. If your plans don’t include fun in the water, land access properties can be an economical solution

One final piece of advice: when searching for a recreational property it would be wise to work with someone who specialises in your target area. These type of properties are quite different from those in a large urban centre. Water and sewage services are not always provided by the municipality, land use restrictions can be in place to preserve the natural surrounding environment; these are a few of the issues that a local specialist would be aware of.

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