Cottages

The topic of cottages came up the other day at the office. The question was asked. “What would you rather do, travel or buy your own cottage?” The consensus was that most would rather travel than have their own cottage; only one person chose otherwise (me). Ironically, I am the only person to not have their own home. Maybe I am a bit naïve about the work and costs that come with buying your own home. It’s not like everyone said they didn’t like cottages. They love cottages (except Lara), but would rather it be someone else’s cottage so they can enjoy themselves, without the headache of cost and maintenance. Can you blame them?

I will list some pros, cons, and important information to be aware of when looking for a cottage. It is important to know I am not stating whether or not you should buy one. This is to make sure you are aware of what to expect when considering buying your own cottage. You must remember a cottage is a luxury item and is a want not a need. If you decide that a cottage is right for you, make sure you can afford it and you will have no problems budgeting for all the additional costs that come with it.

­Pros­

– It is a great getaway, which can help you escape from the “real world” for a period of time

– You gain an asset (Should not be bought for that reason though)

– You may have it year round

– Great way for the family to spend some quality time together

– Can be passed on in the family to leave a legacy

Cons

– Maintenance costs can be roughly $5,000 a year (Cottage tune-up, roofing, fixing the dock, weather damage, etc.)

– Traffic to and from cottage country we all hear about and sometimes experience.

– Extra expenses (mortgage, utilities, property taxes), could cost you roughly $12,000 a year

– Can be hard to re-sell a cottage as it is subject to real estate and economic market swings

– Investing in a cottage at the expense of saving for retirement

– The cost of furnishing the cottage when it is first purchased

– The cost of additional “toys” that you may want to acquire (boat, sea-doo, canoes, kayak, ATV, snowmobile…..)

– These toys may be expensive and depreciate in value quickly

– Future costs may conflict with other financial requirements such as the purchase of a new car, education costs, travel, etc.

Important to know and think about

Renting– If you will not use a cottage often, consider renting instead of buying. This way you have options of staying at different locations and have different scenery every time. Also you could be the one renting your cottage in order to help pay for your cottage. You should not be dependent on rental income in order to afford your own cottage, although rental income could help defray some costs.

– Ask your realtor about renovation or building by-laws in your area, if that is in your plan.

– Do you want a winterized cottage for year round usage? If so, is there road maintenance to your cottage so you can access your cottage in the winter? What are the heating costs for year round usage?

– Make sure there are no rules against fishing, hunting, or motorized boating if you would like to indulge in those types of activities.

– Understanding the water services in your area is vital. For example, is your drinking source well water or filtered lake water and whether you are on a septic system or sewage system.

I know there seem to be more cons than pros, but I still personally think the joys of cottage ownership, outweigh the cons. There is nothing more relaxing to me, than sitting in a Muskoka Chair staring out on the open lake or river, while forgetting about the real world. Hopefully one day I will be able to purchase my own cottage and enjoy that lifestyle! But first, I have some other financial priorities.


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