Dream of moving to the cottage?

So that idyllic holiday at the cottage left you dreaming of a permanent move to the country. But is it the right move?

You could say it’s a booming market: more Toronto boomers are looking to prepare nests away from the city as they edge toward full or semi-retirement.

And its not just cottage country. Southern and central Ontario, for example, have seen a surge in new retirement and adult lifestyle communities aimed at boomers looking to cash in the family home and escape the hustle-bustle of city life. Catering to this desire for a simpler life, some residential developments are more like self-contained towns complete with golf course, shopping, restaurants and theatres.

And as reported by the Toronto Star, a recent Royal LePage report indicated that waterfront property has increased in value by 13 per cent last year, which represents more than twice the average gain in Toronto.

Is it for you?
For many of us, being able to actually live in “cottage country” is a lifelong dream. However experts warn that such a lifestyle transition comes with both rewards and challenges.

“Each year, more and more Canadians are retiring to cottage country – and loving it,” says Christine van Cauwenberghe, a financial planning expert at Investors Group.
“Cottage living can be a fulfilling and rewarding way to spend retirement, living life at a slower pace,” she says. “But Canadians should make this type of life transition with their eyes open, and a strong understanding of the financial and lifestyle factors involved.”

There are a wide range of factors that should be taken into account before making the move, according to Van Cauwenberghe. Consider the following:

Accessibility. How accessible is your property? If it’s remote in the summer, it could be completely inaccessible in the winter. This is especially important for those who may need access to specialized medical care.

Social lifestyle. Many cottagers enjoy large lots or even acres and acres of property — but will this treasured privacy eventually make you feel isolated and vulnerable? How much access will you have to your social network?

Operating costs. Maintaining a property in a rural environment can be more expensive than you think. Factor in the cost of maintaining private water and sewage systems as well as the costs of property maintenance (summer and winter, including snow removal). You’ll also want to take into account the cost of upgrades necessary to add the convenience of year-round living to a summer cottage. Property taxes may be higher as well.

Be realistic
For some people, the idyllic holiday in the countryside doesn’t always translate to the realities of full-time living. Take the case of Philip Howe who decided to take early retirement from a career in public service back in 1998. Fulfilling a lifelong dream, he moved to a cottage on Kushog Lake in Haliburton, Ontario.

Before long, however, Howe found himself disillusioned and bored. “I had a million dollar view, my own dock, sailboat and motorboat,” says Howe. “But time dragged for months at a time, especially during the spring and winter ‘melt down’ and ‘freeze up’ periods. It wasn’t exactly what I envisioned.”