Real Estate

Buy the Way: These parents downsized to be able to purchase a cottage

Inside of Kim Madill and Graeme Skinner's cottage, which they bought when they downsized from their Mississuaga home Photo by Kim Madill

The search
Kim Madill and Graeme Skinner had dreamed of buying a cottage for decades. But it wasn’t until the Mississauga, Ont.-based couple downsized from a four-bedroom detached house into a three-bedroom townhouse in February 2021 that their dream became a reality. “Our kids were getting older,” Kim says—they have two daughters who were 14 and 16 years old at the time. “We didn’t really need the space anymore because they were involved in competitive sports and not home all that much.” Plus, their daughters would be starting university in a few years; that made even more sense for the family to scale down. Their Mississauga home ended up selling for $300,000 more than they anticipated, netting them a sizeable down payment for their future cottage.

The couple initially set their sights on Muskoka and the Kawarthas. They were hoping to get a three-bedroom waterfront property with at least two bathrooms and good swimming conditions off the dock for less than $1 million. “We quickly found that what we wanted was out of our budget,” Kim says. By March 2021, they had submitted two offers on properties—one on Wood Lake in Muskoka and the other on Mississauga Lake in the Kawarthas, but they were outbid by 20 to 30 per cent each time.

The compromise
In April 2021, Graeme and Kim expanded their search east. Their Muskoka realtor introduced them to Bancroft-based agent Cheryl Easton, who showed them a four-season, three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom A-frame cottage on Long Lake, 10 minutes east of Haliburton.

Photo of Kim Madill and Graeme Skinner on a dock in front of a lake
Photo by Kim Madill

“Immediately, we fell in love with the floor-to-ceiling windows,” says Kim. They also loved the interior with its pine walls and a large screened-in porch. “It felt lived in—like a place you could relax without worrying about spilling coffee, which I do often,” she says. The cottage was listed at $900,000; the sellers were accepting offers 10 days later.

The silver lining
Based on their history of being outbid, they went over budget and bid $1.2 million—and won. They knew the cottage was already listed on Airbnb, with multiple repeat renters. “We liked that we’d have some income when we couldn’t use the place ourselves,” Kim says. Kim says that having a cottage still feels surreal to her. The family spends their time swimming in Long Lake, sitting on the dock, and playing dominoes on the screened-in porch. “Sometimes, I can’t believe we own it,” she says.

Average price of waterfront recreational properties in Haliburton

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