Buying a cottage is completely different than buying a home in the city. The process is the same, but what you look for and how you decide if the property is right for you couldn’t be more different. You are no longer thinking about “are there good schools nearby?” or “how long will it take me to drive to work?”. You now need to think about the drive, do you want to access it all year long and the cost of property upkeep. So if you are thinking about buying a cottage, consider these 6 things when looking at properties.
In the suburbs, you probably don’t mind sharing a front lawn with neighbours (as long as they keep their half mowed!). But at a cottage, the amount of privacy you have can make all the difference. You might prefer being more secluded from your neighbours, after all this is your vacation home. You might also prefer your cottage to not be visible from the lake, especially if you are on a busy one. Trees will help block noise and any nosey onlookers.
The size of the lake will often determine what kind of activities can take place on it. Large lakes are typically free to do all water activities, whereas small lakes discourage any large, motorized boats. The last thing you want is to be hated and hounded by your neighbours because your boat’s horsepower is too much for the lake to handle.
Buyers often envision every lake being accessible by a dock, and for the most part that’s true. However, some cottages are situated in the more marshy parts of the lake, which requires a very long dock to reach a weedless area. At the same time, there are properties where you can dive off an 8x8 dock and never touch the bottom. You need to decide what type of water access you would ideally want or if it even matters to you. It's also important to note if your cottage sits on a high rock, how far is the walk down to the lake? Is this a hike you could see yourself doing in the long-term?
What Is Around You
When shopping around for cottages, be mindful of what is nearby. How far is the nearest hospital, grocery store, gas station or hardware shop? Your real estate agent can help you discover what’s around and weigh your priorities.
How far do you want to go? Most cottagers will travel 2-3 hours out of the city for their vacation spot, but others have been known to travel farther to get a better deal or a better location. For example, Parry Sound is about a 3-hour drive from Toronto with properties starting from $500,000. Temagami is about a 6-hour drive out of Toronto with properties starting from $300,000 but with some of the best sunsets, Ontario has. You also need to think about how you get to your property. Are the roads paved all year long? Do you need to take a boat?
Unlike suburbia or the city, cottages are not necessarily on any grids or water mains. You need to ask yourself if you want to dig a well or connect to the lake water. How will you maintain the septic system? How will you heat your cottage? Do you get cell service at your property? Remember things are a little different in cottage country and you need to be prepared for the change.
Buying a cottage is a huge but exciting investment into your future. It promises a place of fun, memories and escape. It can be a family home you pass down through the generations. If you need help finding the right place that checks all your boxes, please get in touch. We would be glad to help you find your perfect place.
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