Want to buy a secluded cottage? Here’s what to look for

Remote cabin

In December, an Australian news site published an article extolling the virtues of Muskoka, referring to the area as “untouched” and “secret.” But for anyone who has ever spent their Friday night stuck on the 400—or waiting in line at Weber’s—the idea of the Muskoka region as being “hidden” is laughable.

Finding a truly secluded cottage in Canada requires a bit more legwork. Here are eight suggestions for how to find a reclusive retreat, perfect for the Ralph Waldo Emersons of the world.

Take a road trip to explore different areas

The further you drive away from the major highways, the closer you’ll get to paradise. While scouring MLS for off-the-beaten track listings is a great start, afternoon side-trips down back roads might be the only way that you’ll find property or cottages for sale by owner.

Check out under-the-radar locals

If you want to meet your neighbours, Muskoka and the Kawarthas are obvious go-tos. But if you’re looking for quiet and are willing to forgo access to the big box amenities of Huntsville, expanding your search to include smaller lakes or hamlets will payoff.

Research private lakes

Imagine spending your morning kayaking or canoeing across a crystal clear lake, with no one else in sight. This could be a reality, if you’re willing to pay the price for privacy.

Choose an un-motorized lake

If a private lake is outside of your budget, an un-motorized lake may be your next best bet. Lakes that don’t allow speedboats attract a particular type of buyer—mainly one that like quiet. If you’re okay with having some like-minded neighbours, this could be your key to serenity.

Find a private island

Yes, boat-in cottages are more difficult to access. But in this case, that’s exactly the point.

Look for cottages that back onto parkland

This will ensure it won’t be developed in the future.

Commit to a longer commute

For example, if you live in Toronto and are willing to travel as far as Sudbury or Sault Ste. Marie, you’ll be in luck. The Sudbury area alone has more than 300 freshwater lakes and lower property prices that reflect their distance from the city. Or, in Western Ontario, you’ll find Lake of the Woods, which has 14,000 islands and more shoreline than Lake Superior. (You will, however, have to start calling your cottage a “camp.”)

Look for a well-treed property

If you can’t get kilometres away from other cottagers, consider ways to create the illusion of privacy. A big lot with trees on all perimeters will make you feel isolated—even if you can still walk across the street to borrow a cup of sugar.