Two people relaxing by the water
Photo by Ditty_about_summer/

The biggest myths about owning a cottage

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Like being a parent, owning a cottage is fantastic, but it can come with unforeseen challenges. If you’re thinking of buying a cottage, take a look at these common myths—just to make sure you’re prepared for what happens once your dream becomes a reality.

Owning a cottage is relaxing

The myth: You’ll be spending your weekends at the cottage sleeping in, sitting on the deck reading, and recharging from all the work you have to do in the city all week.

The reality: Life at the cottage can be relaxing — if you get your dose of “serenity now” by spending your weekends puttering around doing maintenance. Whether it’s getting the dock in the water, sealing the deck, getting the outboard serviced, clearing the shed of red squirrels and a winter’s worth of acorns, trimming the weeds, or doing one more load of guest-created laundry, keeping your cottage well maintained is an ongoing chore—and it’s one that’s never really done. You’d think that a building that’s unoccupied for much of the week (and potentially all winter) would take less work, but, in fact, the opposite is true.

The cottage is the perfect place to get some peace and quiet

The myth: You’ll climb out of your car at the cottage, and feel your shoulders drop as the silence envelopes you. Your sleep will be noiseless and undisturbed.

The reality: Sure, things are quiet — until your neighbour fires up his jet ski, a chipmunk starts squeaking (those suckers are loud), and you realize you have endless weed trimming ahead of you. It can be quiet in cottage country, but if you have neighbours close by or are on a busy lake, you may not get quite as much silence as you’d like.

A cottage is a great financial investment

The myth: Sinking your money into a cottage offers a great return-on-investment.

The reality: Owning a cottage isn’t a decision you should make for strictly financial reasons. Although cottages tend to retain their value over time, they’re still considered luxury items, which means their value can fluctuate more than other types of real estate. Plus, selling a vacation home tends to take longer than a city house, so you may see your assets tied up for longer than you anticipate. Mortgage rates tend to be higher as well. Unless you’re deciding to buy a cottage for the emotional pay-offs—which can be considerable—you might be better off renting.

The summer is the best time to be at the cottage

The myth: Cottages are best in the summer — and if you can’t go in the summer, you might as well not go.

The reality: You might find that summer isn’t your favourite time to chill at the cottage. In fact, lots of cottagers prefer spring and fall because they tend to be quieter and therefore more relaxing than summer. Think about it: less traffic, fewer people on the lake, potentially fewer bugs (in the fall, anyway). And taking your main time at the cottage in shoulder seasons means you can  rent out your place during peak season to offset the costs.

The traffic isn’t that bad

The myth: How bad could the traffic possibly be? Those traffic reports must be exaggerated.

The reality: It’s a good thing the days are longer in the summer, because if you cottage in Ontario and are trying to leave the Greater Toronto Area on a Friday night, it’s going to be a lot of stop-and-go frustration. Not only are there more people traveling highways to and from cottage country, a lot of construction projects take place during prime cottaging season. And according to reports, quite a few are already planned for major highways like the 400 and 401. So think very hard about whether you want to spend each Friday night stuck in traffic or leaving at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning, only to turn around the next day and repeat the whole mess again.