According to realtor Shirley Rule, who specializes in Ontario cottage country properties, the most popular areas to buy a cottage are affordable, have clean lakes and plenty of amenities, and are easily accessible from major urban centres.
“It’s a tall order,” says Rule.
This isn’t helped by the fact that many regions are becoming prohibitively expensive—especially if they’re a short drive from a major urban centre. Rule says that increasingly, buyers are willing to drive further to get the most bang for their buck. “The availability near good lakes is limited, so people are going beyond the two-hour radius.”
Which brings us to these 10 regions. Some may be familiar to you, some you may never have heard of, but they may one day be the next Muskoka.
If you’re looking to purchase in a trendy area—or just curious about what markets are hot right now—here are ten communities to keep an eye on.
1. Haliburton, Ontario
Let’s kick things off with one of the more obvious choices: Haliburton. While Muskoka will arguably always be what Rule calls the “crown jewel” of Ontario’s cottage country, Haliburton has become increasingly popular.
“Haliburton is touted as the ‘next Muskoka,’ but it has a different vibe. It’s more laid-back and a place to come to ‘chill out,’ whereas Muskoka is more dynamic and active,” says Rule. With ample amenities, Haliburton is currently a hot spot for buyers who can’t afford Muskoka prices.
2. Bancroft, Ontario
In the current seller’s market, Rule says that Ontario buyers will have to look further away from Toronto, which includes communities like Bancroft. Located in the Ontario Highlands midway between Ottawa and Toronto, the area features smaller lakes and more affordable properties.
3. Prince Edward County, Ontario
With new boutique hotels, nearly 50 wineries and easy access to Sandbanks Provincial Park, there’s no doubt that Prince Edward Country is having a “moment.” However, most cottages have a price to match—anything listed for under $500,000 results in multiple offers.
4. North Kawartha, Ontario
Again, a further driving distance from Toronto means that this area is attractive to first-time buyers. However, with nearby communities such as Bobcaygeon offering social activities, the Kawarthas are also becoming increasingly popular with retirees who want to embrace the cottage country lifestyle year-round.
5. Falcon Lake, Manitoba
If you’re looking to invest in an affordable new build, construction is currently underway on properties near Falcon Lake, which is located on the southern edge of Whiteshell Provincial Park.
6. Lake of the Woods, Ontario & Manitoba
Less than a three-hour drive from Winnipeg is Lake of the Woods, a thriving recreational area. Fed by several smaller lakes, the massive body of water boasts over 14,500 islands—some of which are for sale.
7. Ucluelet, B.C.
If you want to buy on Vancouver Island, but aren’t interested in the crowds at Tofino, look no further than Ucluelet. A fishing port, the community is located at the edge of the Pacific Rim National Park, providing ample opportunities for exploring.
8. Invermere, B.C.
Kelowna might be the top choice for many Albertans looking for a holiday getaway, but Invermere offers affordable vacation properties right on the edges of Lake Windermere. At just three hours from Calgary, it’s an picturesque destination nestled between the Rockies and the Purcell range.
9. Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan
Just an hour away from both Regina and Saskatoon, Manitou Beach has been a resort village for city dwellers since the early 20th century. During the hot summer months, the population grows to about 2,000 visitors, with entry-level cottage properties starting from as low as $50,000.
10. Prince Edward Island
Can we justifiably consider an entire province “cottage country”? With oceanfront cottages starting at less than $200,000—yes, yes we can. However, buying here if you’re not an “Islander” may be easier said than done. Due to strict regulations to prevent absentee landownership, out-of-province buyers may have to apply for special permits.