Five Tips for Buying a Cottage in Ontario


Whether you enjoy the serenity of the forest or love the idea of living on the water, cottages in Ontario are certainly picturesque and peaceful. You can feel your troubles melt away on the drive, headed to a place where you and your family can make countless memories. There are almost always new cottage properties available, so you’re likely to have plenty of options at your disposal by the time you start looking.

Without further ado, here are my top five tips for buying a cottage in Ontario.

Plan Ahead for the Down-Payment

One of the most significant factors in deciding to buy a cottage should be how much you can afford. Mortgage lending for a cottage in Ontario follows a similar process to that of a regular home. When it comes to the down payment, you’ll still need to come up with between 5% and 10% of the purchase price. Lenders will also factor in other specifics, such as how you will use the space. 

Decide Where to Buy

The northern parts of Ontario are dotted with lakes filled with crystal clear water, deep brush that means plenty of privacy from the neighbours (if you even have any), and a connection to nature that makes a walk in a city park pale in comparison. It’s all beautiful, which means you could spend a long time searching for the perfect place. 

I encourage buyers to consider the commute, community, and setting when choosing an area to buy in. I’ve found that many people prefer driving about two hours or less to get to their home away from home. You will also need to decide if community connections, such as being close to a grocery store, are important to you. Lastly, the setting you want to be in is important. Waterfront properties are a hot commodity, for instance.

Define the Purpose of the Property

It is not uncommon for buyers to purchase cottages, at least in part, for their potential rental income. It’s a great way to jumpstart your ROI but can come with quite a bit of responsibility. Other individuals may prefer a permanent getaway where they can enjoy the summer months, especially if your office allows for working from home. In that case, you’ll need to consider the strength of your cell service and a data or Wi-Fi connection. 

Alternatively, perhaps you want to buy a cottage as a place for enjoyment in your retirement years, one that can be renovated or expanded to your heart’s content. Depending on the cottage’s use, you will want to consider accessibility as well. This factor can affect the feasibility of getting a mortgage for a cottage in Ontario, as some lenders need the property to be accessible year-round. Setting out these specifics ahead of time can also ensure that your insurance broker knows what kind of policy you will need for this property.

Consider Total Costs

One of the fun yet challenging aspects of cottages is that there are few cookie-cutter options. Each property you visit is likely to be unique, possibly even built by hand, and comes with its own set of features that you need to consider. Plumbing, heating, hydro, and electricity might be in various states of disrepair if present at all, and fixing any of these can be costly. You may also want to invest in a generator in the event of a substantial storm that could cause a power outage. Building permits and coding can vary through townships, so if you would like a boathouse, garage, or even a shed, it could be a lengthy process before you get to build.

Expect to Compromise

Similar to buying your first house, it is unlikely that you will find a space that checks off everything on your list. Inventory could be minimal where you are looking, for instance, forcing you to buy elsewhere. Alternatively, the places you’re looking at might have smaller bedrooms and dated kitchen appliances, or you might not end up with that longed-for view of the water from the living room window. I recommend that all potential cottage buyers go into tours and listings with an open mind, as well as the sense that they may need to compromise on something in order to get into a place they will grow to love. Like with house hunting, creating a list of needs and “nice to haves” can be a helpful guide when you are overwhelmed and not sure which property is right for you.

Getting a mortgage for a cottage in Ontario can be a unique process. Just like when you are searching for a house, I suggest using an experienced mortgage broker who can walk you through the process, and all of its possibilities. I have been working with clients for more than 15 years, finding ideal solutions even when it comes to buying a cottage. If you are ready to apply, contact me today for your free consultation. I’m happy to help!

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About Andrew Thake

Andrew Thake is a seasoned mortgage broker with over 15 years of industry experience. He’s assisted more than 2,200 clients in finding their ideal mortgage solutions. Recognized for his excellence, Andrew has received high honours and awards, including the National Rookie of the Year from TD Canada Trust and recognition as a Top 10 Ottawa Mortgage Broker in 2023. He has also been inducted into the Hall of Fame at Dominion Lending Centres and has consistently received their Platinum Award during his tenure as a mortgage broker.

Andrew’s dedication lies in serving his clients and prioritizing their needs with an empathetic approach. Throughout the application process, he provides tailored, informed, and efficient services to ensure the best mortgage solutions for his client’s unique circumstances. The best part of Andrew’s job is when he gets to see the joy on his clients’ faces following their mortgage approval.

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