Thinking of Buying a Cottage – Things to Consider

By: Sylvia Smith

Thinking of Buying a Cottage – Things to Consider

Tags: Cottage, Vacation home, Muskoka, Parry Sound, Seasonal cottage, Winterized Cottage, Year Round Cottage, Chalet, Country Home, Hobby Farm, realestatewithsylvia, Buying a Cottage

Do you dream of one day having a family cottage?  Do you dream of creating amazing family memories at your cottage?  Being able to escape life in the city and forget about life's worries and stresses?  Seeing the kids play freely and hearing their joyful squeals as they jump into the lake. Seeing them enjoy and explore the wonders and beauty that nature has to offer, staying up late in wonderment of all the stars, roasting marshmallows around the fire pit.  How about hearing the loon's cry echo across the lake?

Cottage, Muskoka, Muskoka Cottage, Loons

Did you start drifting off and visualizing how amazing it would be to own a cottage?  Once you get the cottage bug it is hard to even imagine not having a cottage.  But before you start actively searching for that dream cottage there are a number of things to consider and be aware of.

Things to Consider When Buying a Cottage

Buying a cottage
So are you ready to start looking for a cottage?  Before you start looking there are many things to consider.  Such as do you want a cottage on a lake or river or simply a country vacation home. 

Where is your ideal location?  The most popular response is Muskoka but do you know that cottages in Muskoka are more expensive and the property taxes tend to be much higher than other locations?  Ontario is blessed with having many pristine lakes.  If you still want to be near Muskoka, Parry Sound is a great option and just a skip and hop away. 

Here are some other things that you should know or want to consider:
 Do you want to be on a municipal road? 
 Many cottages are only accessible by boat?
 Do you know that many cottages that are road accessible are on seasonal roads and the roads are privately maintained?
 Most cottages also do not have garbage pick-up and you need to take your garbage to a local dump?  Depending on location there may be an additional garbage disposable cost.
 Most cottages are also not on municipal sewage or water.  So you will most likely have a septic tank and water from the lake or you may be fortunate to have a well on your property.
 Did you know that there are way more bylaws governing cottage properties than city homes?
 Did you know that cottage country is a great community and most of us lookout for each other and each other’s properties?
 Due to cottages being in the middle of nature and normally near the water they will require more upkeep that your city home.
 Most cottages do not have furnaces – so central heating and air conditioning are normally not available.  Most cottages are heated by electrical baseboard heaters, propane fireplaces, or traditional wood-burning fireplaces (which personally is my favorite source of heat – as there is nothing more calming than smelling and hearing the crackling of the wood in the fireplace.

When Buying a Cottage There are Many Options

1.  Seasonal Cottages

Muskoka Cottage, Country cottage

The largest category of recreational properties is non-winterized cottages used in the spring, summer, and fall months.  Although if a seasonal cottage is well insulated and has newer windows you may be able to go up in the winter for a couple of days assuming you have access or can snowmobile in.
There are still many seasonal properties to be found in Ontario and these properties also tend to have a lower price point.  In many cases, however, terrain, water access only, uncleared road access during the winter, and snow/ice conditions make winterizing unrealistic or quite often impossible.  

2.  Winterized/Year-Round Cottages/Homes

Muskoka Cotttage, Winterized Cottage

Winterized and year-round cottages and homes are all the rage currently but obviously involve a greater investment.  It is becoming more and more common for cottage owners to expand or renovate a cottage to full or part-time year-round use. 

3.  Country Homes 

Country homes for sale

Owning a country home is great for families that are seeking the solitude and tranquility of off-water acreage outside the hectic city life.

What Type of Property to Buy?


Cottage Country, Muskoka


How will you use your vacation home or second property is a big decision and one you will have to give some thought to before taking the big plunge. How you plan to use your second property will significantly impact your finances, the kind of property you purchase and where you buy.

Working with the Right Realtor

When you decide it is time to start looking for a cottage it is important that you are working with a realtor that has first-hand cottage experience.  In addition, do you know that not all Realtors have access to all cottage properties? 

I have dual board membership to The Toronto Real Estate Board and the Lakelands Realtors Association (Muskoka, Halliburton’s, Huntsville, Parry Sound, and Innisfil).  If your Realtor is not a member of the cottage board that you are looking for a cottage in they will have very limited access to specific cottage information.  
If you are considering looking for a cottage in the Muskoka’s, Haliburton’s, Huntsville, Parry Sound, or Innisfil areas please reach out.  It would be my pleasure to help you find your dream cottage.