How to Turn Your Cottage into Your Forever Home
Whether it’s waking up to the sound of the waves or spending afternoons relaxing in a hammock, more and more retirees are fleeing to the cottage as their year-round home. Nothing beats the laid back cottage lifestyle! And while your cottage is the perfect summer getaway, does it have the potential to be your forever home as retirement approaches? Before you pack your bags, these are some things to consider first:
Ontario has the tendency to present us with some pretty harsh winters. Snow, sleet, and freezing rain will affect travel plans which can change things when you live in a rural area. Roads may not be plowed (if you can make it out of your driveway!), leaving you stuck at home. You may need to invest in an “Ontario winter-friendly” vehicle like a pickup truck or SUV with four wheel drive and a snow plow or snow blower.
The cottage itself may not be suited for colder and more damper weather as well. Ensure the home has adequate insulation for the walls and roof and vapour barriers to combat condensation.
Space for Family to Stay
Living at the cottage year-round means you’ll hopefully have family and friends come visit. Ensure you’ve got at least two extra bedrooms for guests as well as a second washroom.
If the cottage was typically only a summer getaway, you likely spent very little on utilities. But as you transition the home into a year-round living space, you may need to make some energy efficiency upgrades in order to keep the utility bill wake up call to a minimum (especially if you invest in HVAC to bear the summer heat). Here are a few ways to keep your utility bills down as you move to the cottage:
- Add a wood stove. If the cottage relies on an expensive heat source like oil, add a wood stove to keep costs down.
- Switch to solar energy by installing panels on the roof.
- Hang your laundry to dry instead of using the dryer.
How accessible is your home? Are there many stairs to get inside or a steep hill to climb? If everyday tasks like bringing in groceries are going to be troublesome, you may want to consider hiring a contractor to make some changes to the property and home layout. It’s also important to consider the likelihood of a family member which needs a walker or wheelchair.
Your Social Life
When we envision retirement, we typically see ourselves playing tennis in the mornings, golfing in the afternoons, going to dinner in the evening, and relaxing on the dock with friends at night. But realistically, the joy of retirement may wear off quickly, especially if the residents in your neighbourhood do not use their cottage as a year-round home. You may even find yourself bored! Here are a few things you can do to prep your home for retirement:
- Keep busy. Build a room into the cottage for your hobby. Whether it’s painting, woodworking, or yoga, dedicate a space to something you enjoy.
- Build a library. Not everyday will bring nice weather. Prep for rainy (and snowy!) days with a nook for curling up with a book.
- Make friends with neighbours. Some cottages can be isolating. Make the effort to build relationships with neighbours by hosting a housewarming party!
Larger Septic Tank
The size of your septic tank may be based on fewer residents using the system and for only parts of the year. Moving to the cottage may mean you need to invest in a larger system.
Dial-up is ok for a few weekends out of the year when you’re more concerned about boating and swimming, but slow internet speeds can get frustrating on an everyday basis. If high-speed isn’t available in your area, try looking into satellite internet, cable or DSL.
You deserve to truly enjoy your golden years without sacrifices. Talk to a contractor about turning your family cottage into your dream retirement paradise!