Dear Lacie: Purchasing a Cottage

As promised I said while I was off I would do more blogging. I thought I would start by answering some of the emails I have received. So let’s start with a few about purchasing a cottage.


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Dear Lacie, we have been reading your blog for a few years now and you have inspired us to start looking for a cottage of our own. What advice would you give to a first-time cottage buyer?

Buying a cottage is buying a second home. With it comes all the reasonability and pleasures. There are three things I would say are the most important.

  • Buy it for yourself. Guests will come once or twice each Cottage Season. The novelty of driving up to someone else’s cottage wears off fast for visitors. The people who will spend most of the time there is your immediate family. Plan for visitors but purchase for yourself.
  • Before you buy, decide what you plan to use it for. If you are planning to be there every weekend, take into consideration driving time. If you are a water person, how close to the water can you get, and how fast? If you are a Winter person who likes to ski or snowmobile, how close are trails to you? If you like quiet time, how close are you to your nearest neighbor. Knowing what you want to do when you are there makes buying much easier and saves you time and disappointment later.
  • Know your limits. If you are not a handy person, do not buy a place that needs a lot of repairs. If you don’t like to garden or mow lawns, don’t take on a big property. If budget is an issue know what you can afford to do before taking on a property that will need as much if not more care than your home. Remember what I said about visitors and the novelty of driving up to the cottage? That also goes with hands to help repair and maintaining the cottage.


Dear Lacie, we just bought our first cottage and I don’t know where to begin. What will we need the most at the cottage?

I’m hoping for you that you start off with hydro, running water, and heat, unlike us. If you are starting off with a functioning cottage then what you need next is to concentrate on the bedrooms, the kitchen, and the bathroom. Going away for a week or two and ruffing it is fun when going on an adventure. Doing it every weekend is a lot of work and the fun of the adventure runs out after a few trips.  Make sure you can cook, sleep, and use your bathroom properly, and don’t forget what you will entertain yourself between sleeping and eating.

After five years of cottaging, we are still adding things to the cottage all the time. Each item makes life at the cottage a little easier. Things I swore I would never add like satellite and a vacuum cleaner have been added. As time passes you will discover those things you said you never needed at the cottage, make life easier, and give you more time to enjoy the cottage. Those things can wait. Sleeping, eating, and being clean can not.


Dear Lacie, how do you feel about joint ownership of a cottage?

Joint ownership is not for everyone. It wouldn’t work for us as we are both strong-headed and self-driven. We have our own style and I hate other people in my kitchen for more than a day and a hand.

For others, it works. I see cottages near us that are family owned and they seem to work out well. They have their own way of dividing costs and time shared. I have been told that it’s more affordable to share the cost which allows you to be able to purchase a larger property.  What I am also told is one person must be able to run the show managing payments, repair cost, and collecting from the co-owners. It sounds to me like a business adventure and as we know they work out well or destroy relationships.  I would strongly advise before making a joint purchase you come to an agreement in writing what is each person’s responsibilities and how decisions will be made.

I also encourage you to get a lawyer and get everything in writing. Life changes. Marital status change. Health conditions happen. Financial situation change. And unfortunately but it happens, family and friends have falling outs. When these things happen your lovely vacation home can be caught in the middle. Make a plan for the what-ifs.

Dear Lacie after buying the cottage and getting to where you are what wouldn’t you do again?

I wouldn’t change buying the cottage, but if I was to do it again, I would take with me someone who knew cottages and cottage life. For example the water system. We never checked it when we bought it and had no idea that getting one running was going to cost over $10,000 and leave us without water for almost a whole season.

We knew nothing about building permits for that area and how many trips I had to make to get them approved which included getting a variance and having to sit in a courtroom and wait for them to get approved. We also learned that we couldn’t put up a fully enclosed back porch after the purchase. Expert advice is the one thing I wish we had and that’s with being married to a contractor.

The other piece of advice I wish someone had given me was to buy what you need as you need it. We had a lot of fun shopping for the cottage. It also turned my home into a storage bin for a few years. That’s something I can live without and try now to only purchase when I’m heading to the cottage to take it up.

I’m sure there are other things we wouldn’t do again, but learning is also part of the adventure and we are still learning.

As always, I thank you for your questions and ask that you keep them coming. It’s your interaction that keeps blogging interesting and enjoyable for me.  I love hearing from you, and I hope my answers were helpful.














Thank you again for your questions.  I love receiving the emails, the feedback, and the questions.