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Whether you buy or rent a cottage depends on your personal situation

If you want to escape your everyday hectic life for some rest and relaxation at the cottage, you’re not alone. Heading out of the city for a few days to an oasis of fresh air, cool water and fun with family and friends is one of the true rites of summer for many Canadians. Let’s look at three different ways to participate in cottage life to see which one suits you best.

The obvious benefit of owning a cottage is that you can go whenever you want, be it for a one-month summer vacation, a winter weekend of cross-country skiing or any other purpose. It’s your cottage and you can do with it as you wish. It may also grow in value while you own it. Then again, because it’s your cottage you will be responsible for the upkeep of the property and all maintenance/repair costs, utility bills and everything else associated with home ownership. Of course you also need to pay for the cottage and property taxes, which entails a large financial commitment and likely a mortgage. Renting out the cottage when you don’t plan to use it can help cover costs, but being a landlord has its challenges as well.

An alternative to buying is to rent a cottage, which frees you from the costs and responsibilities of ownership, while offering the flexibility to pay as you go. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll likely be competing with others who covet the same prime renting periods, so you may have to book far in advance to secure the timeslot you want. If you have a future goal of owning a cottage, renting can also serve as a test run to see which cottages and areas you prefer. Be sure to take plenty of notes and photos each time you rent, to serve as reminders of what you like and dislike about each cottage.

Another option available to you is a timeshare, which combines characteristics of ownership and renting. Much like buying a cottage, with a timeshare you have the opportunity to build up some equity in the property. Timeshare (or “fractional ownership”) resembles renting because you do not have full control regarding when you can use the cottage, so you might not always get the timeslots you want. If you’re flexible about when you can visit the cottage and would like to put your money towards part-ownership instead of renting, a timeshare could be right for you.


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