Investing in a cottage
Buying a cottage
You can debate the question of whether a cottage is a luxury splurge or a smart real estate investment. Truthfully, it’s a bit of both. If you were lucky enough to inherit or buy lakefront property decades ago, you’d likely do well if you were to sell tomorrow.
A winterized property may be a wiser investment than a summer home with no insulation and limited access. Cottage prices will range depending on a number of factors. Being less than a two-hour drive from the city on a larger lake is the most desirable but also the most expensive option. There are more-affordable alternatives if you’re willing to drive a little farther or settle on a smaller lake.
Everyone must put a little work into their cottage, as it will require regular maintenance. Be sure to choose a property that’s manageable and leaves room in your finances for you to put in a dock and buy a boat so that you can enjoy the full potential of the cottage lifestyle.
Sharing a cottage
In the past few years, there has been a big surge in new properties with all of the bells and whistles priced well under $100,000. The catch? You only own a few weeks a year. Be prepared to share your dream getaway with other owners when you’re not there. Fractional ownership may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly something to consider if it suits your needs and wallet. Check to see if the association or property management company allows you to rent out the weeks you might not use like when the kids are in school. While it’s a great way to pool resources and leverage your buying power, it’s important to have a lawyer draw up an agreement that clearly states who is allowed to use the cottage when, and outlines other expectations, such as upkeep, mortgage payments and property taxes. Consider sharing a summer rental to test how the arrangement will work before you take the financial leap of faith.
Renting a cottage
If you like to get away every summer but you don’t want the expense or commitment of owning your own place, rent someone else’s! There are tons of property rental companies that showcase cottages at a variety of price points. This is a terrific choice if you want to explore a new area each summer, as there are properties available from coast to coast. Most cottage rentals are rented months in advance, so plan early because the best places are in high demand. July, August and long weekends are the most expensive and difficult to book. If you can take your holidays in June or September and are willing to take a chance on the weather, you can get an incredible deal. If you’re an owner and don’t mind the idea of sharing your family cottage retreat, you could cover your taxes, the cost of a new dock or even a new bunkhouse with what you might earn in renting your property for part of the season.