Choose Your City
Change City

Cottage life can be available to everybody


Thank goodness for summer, and full-on cottage season.

Don’t roll your eyes just because you don’t own one or have easy access to one. The fact is, there are so many available for rent, all across Canada, that you could spend years getting a taste of different locations, lakes, and styles of cottage.

The key is in knowing what you want, what you need, doing your research, and speaking to the owner or management company at length. If they can’t be bothered to take the time to answer your questions, then you don’t want to rent from them.

Knowing what you want and what you need are two very different things. For example, you may want a cottage that’s remote and far away from any civilization, but you may need a cottage that’s only a two-hour drive from home with road access because you have small children.

The best idea is to make a wish list of all the things that are important to you, and then put them in descending order. Some examples are: distance from home; number of beds; proximity to a body of water; amenities like television, DVD, telephone, Internet; cellphone reception; pets; etc.

Of course, cost is a deciding factor. And, as with all real estate, it’s about location, location, location. In Ontario’s Muskoka region alone, there are areas that are considered more tony than others and are, therefore, more pricey. And most areas across the country bump up their prices during peak summer season, so if you have any flexibility in your schedule, you could save now by choosing the lovely, tranquil week right after summer officially ends.

Although we’re already at the end of June, and the pickings will now be slim, it’s not too, too late to find a cottage that suits your needs. However, I do advise being more prepared for next summer by starting your search much earlier in the year.

From my experience, people start reserving by mid-March, with the crush following in May.

It’s also from my personal experience that although many cottages are bought as income properties and solely rented throughout the year, others are truly someone’s home that they are loaning out for a fee. Remember that when you get there, and treat the place as you would want someone to treat your home.

Finally, here are some tips for what to bring with you no matter how well-equipped the cottage supposedly is advertised:

  • a personal first-aid kit for you and your family

  • favourite bath towels

  • a cooler for taking picnic foods down to the water

  • water safety toys and devices that you know fit your children

  • favourite books and age-appropriate toys

  • bug sprays, anti-itch, antihistamines, and suntan lotions — yes, of course, bugs and sunburns are a sidebar to cottage life, but so is nature’s beauty and the opportunity for outdoor recreation.