What You Should Know Before Buying A Cottage

Marco Pedri | March 8, 2020

After being stuck indoors and trying to stay warm this winter, any glimpse of spring will be sure to cheer you up. You will start to go out for walks, plan for gardening season, or even plan for the cottage. 

But wait, you don’t have a cottage!

In that case, you have probably considered purchasing a cottage and since you’ve clicked on this article, you’ve probably considered joining the cottage lifestyle. Luckily, Ontario has many beautiful towns that offer exceptional cottage lifestyles. Elliot Lake, Blue Mountain, Meaford and Port Colborne are all possible options to get into the cottage real estate market. If so, then here are five things you should know before buying a cottage.  

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1 - Is it winterized? 

Having a cottage is great, but only being able to experience the benefits of a cottage four to six months out of the year might not be enough for you. It is important to see whether the cottage you are interested in is winterized

Having a cottage winterized means whether or not it is fit for habitational use during the winter months. If not, you might have to take some precautions when closing up the cottage during the last weekend of summer. 

You should always keep in mind HIP. The three key areas of concern you should inspect are the following:  

  • Heating
  • Insulation
  • Piping

If your cottage is not winterized and you do not take the proper precautions when leaving the cottage for the winter, you will come back the following year with potentially burst pipes, mold and rodent infestations. 

A great benefit of having a winterized cottage is the ability to use it all year round. Even if you or your family is not big on winter activities, someone else might be interested and you could rent it out for parts of the winter months to offset any expenses  

2 - Access and local amenities 

We tend to only think of bad things as they happen and not beforehand. But planning for the worst is essential when buying a cottage. It is important to keep a tally of how easy it is to gain access to your cottage and the local amenities in your area. 

  • During the winter months, are the roads that lead to your cottage plowed? 
  • Do you plan to buy a cottage on a private island? 
  • How far away is the nearest hospital or medical centre?

These are all important questions one should keep in mind when buying a cottage. These ultimately impact the value of the cottage, property taxes and the insurance you will be paying.  

On the more positive side of the topic, access and local amenities can be great additional features. For example, water access. Does your cottage have riparian rights or beachfront access? What about a local yacht club? 

Enjoying the cottage can be an opportunity to escape the busy world around you and reconnect with nature, but it can also be used as a social opportunity. Having the option to socialize at nearby local amenities will broaden the scope of appeal to all demographics from young to old.  

3 – Insurance 

Unfortunately, there is no escaping insurance. When purchasing a cottage, it is important to get in touch with your insurance broker to see what kind of rate you can get and figure out what property features either raise or lower insurance premiums. 

If your cottage is located in an area known for flooding, seasonal damage or the property itself is not winterized and prone to damage, you might find yourself paying higher insurance premiums. This also goes in hand with how easy it is to gain access to the property and local amenities. In the case of an emergency for example, how close is the nearest fire station? If the fire station is far away, you might be hit with higher insurance premiums due to the increase risk of your property.

Insurance is an added cost many people don't factor in when purchasing a cottage. It is important to understand what raises or lowers insurance premiums and how much you could potentially be paying before finalizing on a deal. 

4 – Water and sewage 

Many of us take for granted that we can walk to our taps, turn on the water and drink it straight from the tap without second guessing the drinkability of the water. This is not the case for many rural communities. For some cottages, water might come from a private well system. In these instances, it is important to get the water tested regularly to ensure it is safe for consumption.  

More often than not, if you’re buying a cottage, it probably runs of a septic system. When purchasing a cottage, you should first make yourself aware of the various septic systems there are and what septic system your future cottage uses. In the Agreement of Purchase and Sale, it should be outlined that you as the buyer will receive all documentation related to the current septic system such as inspections or any recent maintenance work.  

5 – Landscape and environment


Reflect back on why you started reading this article in the first place. What made you want to get a cottage? If you're from the city it was probably to escape the hustle of downtown living and escape to nature and enjoy your summer and winters outdoors.

Create a list and write down what natural features your cottage needs to have. Does it need to be facing west to enjoy the golden orange summer sunset? Does it need to be right on the water or close to a beach to boat and fish on? When viewing cottages, take a moment to stop, reflect and picture yourself there. If deep down it doesn't feel right for you, then don't force yourself to like it. Move on and find the one that naturally feels right to you. 

The finale: picture yourself there

At the end of the day, it is important whether you like the cottage lifestyle or not because it might not be for you. More than likely if you read this article fully, you are seriously considering buying a cottage. There is a lot more work that goes into owning a cottage than just relaxing on the dock working on your tan. It requires maintenance, money and a inherent love for the outdoors.

I have to admit, I'm a city guy at heart. However, if you were to ask me what I’d like to be doing right now, either working inside trying to keep warm or laying on the dock soaking up the sun, I’d pick the cottage life.  

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About the Author

Marco Pedri is a Broker at Shoreline Realty Corp., Brokerage. He brings his expertise in public relations and communications to reach key demographics and audiences. With his sales knowledge in real estate, Marco Pedri is a powerhouse agent bringing exceptional service to both buyers and sellers.