Points to Consider Before Buying a Cottage

Points to Consider Before Buying a Cottage

The appeal of owning a secondary residence is strong. As a favourite relaxation spot for the whole family, it can become the perfect place for everyone to get together and break free from the daily routine.

And yet, you must exercise proper precautions to ensure the transaction goes smoothly and that the cottage you do buy meets everybody’s needs.  

1.   Your Lifestyle

It’s a nice dream, but you should make sure your cottage actually corresponds to your reality. For example, don’t buy a fixer-upper if you know you’re too busy to carry out renovations. Likewise, you might be disenchanted by a very far or not easily accessible property if you enjoy hosting your family and friends regularly.

2.   Municipal Bylaws Regarding Short-Term Rental

Is buying a second property part of your long- or medium-term investment plans? Do you believe you can make your purchase pay for itself through short-term rental? Avoid unpleasant surprises by checking existing laws. Several municipalities have recently tightened their bylaws or are about to do so.

You must equally look up zoning bylaws if, conversely, if you don’t want to be bothered by temporary renters. If your immediate neighbours rent out their cottages on a short-term basis, you may see new faces every weekend… and have to endure their rowdy behaviour!

3.   The Comfort Level 

Are you more the rustic cabin type or five-star hotel type? To guarantee your new little nest is sufficiently welcoming and cozy, according to your expectations, check the water supply, insulation level, mobile cellular coverage, and internet connection.

4.   Lake Access

Quite a few stories of conflicts between neighbours concerning lake access have made headlines lately. If your lot doesn’t provide you with direct access to the water, make certain it includes a notarized right of way to avoid being greatly disappointed.

Just as importantly: is the cottage by an ecological lake? Are you allowed to moor a large motorboat there? Or would you prefer a calm lake, where only non-motorized boats are authorized?

5.   Your Long-Term Budget

There is more to consider than just the interest rates and monthly mortgage payments. Usually, people who are looking for a cottage to buy already own a main residence. If this is also the case for you, be aware that you will need to put down at least 20% of the purchase price. Furthermore, if the cottage you have in mind isn’t habitable year-round, your lender may ask for a larger downpayment. Make sure you understand the mortgage requirements for a cottage, as they differ from those for a main residence.

6.   Additional Short-Term Costs

Can you afford the daily expenses such a purchase entails? There isn’t just the property and furnishings to pay for. Insuring a dwelling that remains empty for extended periods is quite pricey. Remember to factor this into your budget. There are also all the related real estate transaction fees, such as the welcome tax, as well as municipal and school taxes, as applicable.


In short, acquiring a vacation home is an exciting project, but not one that should be embarked upon hastily.  

RE/MAX Québec

By RE/MAX Québec

By RE/MAX Québec

A leader in the real estate industry since 1982, the RE/MAX network brings together the most efficient brokers.