The Cottage lifestyle in Canada is more popular than ever

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The cottage lifestyle has soared in popularity over the past two years, with a real estate boom linked to the newly‑established remote work model that emerged as a result of pandemic, coupled with the desire to escape the rising costs of city living. The demand for a cottage escape has caused record‑breaking property sales, extreme low inventory and an increased demand for cottage rentals this summer.

Offering a tranquil escape featuring stunning waterside views, the cottage vacation is expected to remain a popular trend for 2022, but rising prices and a scarcity of listings on the market could mean greater competition for available properties.

With the May 24 long weekend kick‑off to cottage season just around the corner, prospective cottagers will need to act early to enjoy a cottage rental or ownership. To help those seeking a cottage escape this summer, Cottage Life magazine editor, Michelle Kelly, and the Cottage Life Show are sharing some tips and strategies to navigate the ever‑popular market.

Cottage Sharing: Pooling resources with family or friends can help turn a cottage dream into a reality. More and more people are opting for sharing as a way to get into the market. It may seem obvious, but you must consider who it is you’re joining forces with. Before even beginning to look for a cottage with another party, first explore all the issues that may come up between co‑owners. That’s where a sharing agreement comes into play. It’s in everyone’s best interests to agree beforehand on how to use the cottage, on dividing up duties and responsibilities, and on general practices. Be as detailed as possible with the agreement, and remember to ask all the “what if” questions (“what if someone dies?”, “what if one of us remarries?”, “what if one of us wishes to sell?”).

Build a Bunkie: For those with some basic building skills or who know a great handyman, a bunkie – a small, cabin‑like structure that comes in a DIY kit – can offer a more affordable solution. Consider buying a plot of land to build on. It’s important to note that research is essential to ensure that the land is suitable for a cottage escape – consider zoning, local bylaws, floodplains and more with the help of an experienced local realtor. 

Bunkies can also serve as an expansion, offering space for the next generation at the family cottage. However, because they aren’t a part of the main building, these structures aren’t automatically covered in some basic cottage insurance packages, and when they are, that coverage is limited. Be sure to speak with an insurance provider to understand the options.

Buy a Fractional: Here’s how fractional ownership works: a development company or resort builds the cottage and the ownership is divided into shares, most commonly 10, which includes a deed to the property. Each of the 10 shares is entitled to five weeks: one fixed week in the summer, and the other four spread throughout the year. The other owners also get five weeks and the leftover two weeks are for property maintenance. An annual maintenance fee covers cleaning and upkeep, utilities, property taxes, insurance, and the services of a property manager.

Look Beyond the Popular Cottage Regions: Canada has no shortage of lakes and rivers. While listings are scarce and current prices might be too high for many in some of the most popular cottage regions, those with the ability to work remotely should consider looking further afield. If working remotely is the plan, be sure to check for a suitable internet connection before making an offer.

Province Hop: A faraway place may be an alternative solution, but be sure to factor in travel costs and the time commitment. When it comes to buying out of province, realtors are noticing the trend: some are buying traditional homes to use as recreational properties while others are purchasing actual cottages.

Rent in Different Regions: With limited listings, getting into the market this year might be tough. Renting may prove to be a more accessible option for those looking to break into the cottage lifestyle. Plus, it’s a great way to research different areas and discover which ones you love the most before taking the plunge into ownership.

To learn more about the cottage industry, including more information on getting into the market, best practices for investment rentals, succession planning, realtors, builders and contractors, small structures and eco‑friendly solutions as well as to discover the latest in watercraft, docks, water toys, outdoor furniture, and décor, visit the Cottage Life Show. The Ottawa Cottage Life and Backyard Show will take place April 22‑24 at EY Centre. Tickets are on sale at cottagelife.com/shows. 

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