Not a care in the world.

Last year, after having spent a full summer week lounging about at a cottage we had rented with another couple in nearby Notre-dame-de-laus (QC), we returned to Ottawa with a plan: to team up with our friends to buy our own little waterfront property together.

We had taken a drive around the area together and even found a few spots for sale in the immediate vicinity that would suit our needs. And given real estate prices in that area, our plan looked perfectly realizable. We were enthused, to say the least.

We returned with our news, only to be confronted by a few people who had owned cottages in the past. Our enthusiasm was quickly quashed; evidently cottages are a lot more work than they’re worth!

Okay, we knew maintaining a second home wouldn’t be all play and no work – there’s always basic maintenance and repairs to be done on the building itself – but there are other tasks like mowing the lawn, planting and watering the flowers, repairing the dock (and winterizing it before it gets damaged by ice). These were all things that had occurred to us, but that started to sound fairly onerous when you put them all on one big list.

Our advisors also told us that cottages tend to hog your time. You wind up planning all your summer weekends around the cottage to try to maximize your investment. That might result in resentment for people like us, who are already busy with social obligations most weekends.


Evidently, a typical cottage weekend involves trying to get away from work early on Friday so you can get to your property and start to get the cleaning chores done before heading out to the grocery store to stock up for the weekend. And even if you DO get all that done so that you can enjoy your Saturday afternoon, there are invariably houseguests who want to drop by to help you enjoy your little slice of heaven – which means you need to entertain when all you really want to do is read quietly and enjoy a bottle of wine.

Sound like a hassle!

All our summer cottage experience has involved either renting (where all the upkeep is done by someone else) or borrowing (which only requires a bit of clean up before we leave). In those cases, relaxation takes up about 95% of our time. It sounds like owning would result in a lot less down time.

So the plan to buy is on hold for now. If we can get to a point where we can own a cottage AND hire some sort of property manager to look after the work end, then we might reconsider. In the meantime, we’ll continue renting.

For Canada day week, we rented the cottage in Notre-dame-de-laus again. You can see Junkii’s photos of it here. And we’ve just returned from another cottage weekend, this time at our favorite old haunt in Muskoka, which belongs to our friend’s parents. After about 10 years or more of visiting the same place, Junkii is finding it hard to be inspired with his photography – but he’s still managed some great shots, which should be up shortly on our SmugMug page. Keep your eye out.


6 responses »

  1. Muggs says:

    Getalife and I have agreed to never buy a cottage, mainly because we don’t think the cost and work is not worth it. We also love trying new places, until we find a place that is good enough to warrant a return, like a beach hotel in Parksville (on Vancouver Island) where we have stayed probably five times. And I just found a resort hotel in Victoria with a family rate that includes two hours exclusive use of their private movie theatre. We’ve spent a weekend at our friends’ cottage, and did enjoy ourselves, but did not envy the endless DIY list they now have.

    • RoC(k)r says:

      It is tempting to have one – but unless we were wealthy enough to afford someone to take care of it, I don’t see it happening. Maybe if we won the lotto…

  2. Muggs says:

    Aaand don’t forget, next summer you will have friends in Mississauga with a guest room, a pool and a wine fridge.

  3. Krista says:

    I picture having a cottage when Steve and I retire where we’d live year-round and family/friends would come visit us because of the beautiful locale – like my grandparents. For now I like visiting family cottages and renting, where the work (cooking, cleaning, etc) is communal and there’s still ample time for relaxing! Love the photo of you falling into the water. Can’t wait to see more!

    • RoC(k)r says:

      Haven’t figured out where I want to live when I get older. Ideally I would want to stay downtown, but that depends on what city we’re in and how safe it feels downtown 30 years from now. Don’t think I’d want to live entirely away from the cultural centre of a city… like your grandparents… but it would be nice to get up and go for a swim every day. In the summer, anyway.

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