With summer upon us, many families are considering buying a summer getaway. A cabin can be a great way to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy cottage country. Buying a cabin doesn’t come cheap though – that’s why you will want to ask yourself these questions to make sure it is the right time and right decision.
Location, location, location – that is the most important aspect of real estate. This goes for a cabin as well because location plays a big part of how your summers will be spent and what will and will not be available to you. You want a cabin that is far enough away from the city that you get that “cottage-country” feel. That being said, you also want a cabin that is close enough that you don’t waste half your weekend getting to and from it!
A big aspect of this is renting before you buy. Some people end up shopping around a few summers before they buy a cabin as they want to see different areas and get a feel for each of them. A good way to do this is to rent a cabin for a week or so in one of the areas you can see yourself and get a feel for the area. There are so many good cabin areas in Manitoba/Northeast Ontario it makes it hard to decide – if you spend time in each location you are interested in I can guarantee that will make this decision easier.
People often refer to their cabin as their “home away from home”. Depending on what you want to be able to do at your cabin, you will want to make sure you have access to certain amenities. When you think about a cabin – what are the activities you see yourself doing? Big into fishing, water sports, or getting up on that SUP? You will probably want a lakefront cabin. More into lounging, hiking, and relaxing? A waterfront cabin may not be a necessity for you. Is it important that there is a town site close by? Are you ok bringing everything you need for your stay or will you want to run to a store? These are all questions you will need to ask yourself.
Canadian summers are short (they feel even shorter) and schedules are busy. How much will the cabin actually be used? You will need to take into account how many weekends you may actually be able to get up to the cabin and whether the costs are worth it. You may want to table the idea of renting out the cottage if you know you won’t be there specific dates. Earnings from renting your cabin will be considered taxable income but applicable expenses can be claimed to offset income.
Before buying a cabin it is important to look at the big picture and consider how it will affect your overall finances. Can you afford the monthly carrying cost that come with owning a cabin? You may be able to earn some extra income using short term rental services such as Airbnb, but are you ready for the extra responsibilities that come with those? It is important to be aware of the ongoing costs associated with owning a cabin as well such as utilities, home insurance, property taxes, repairs and maintenance, and even the cost of gas from getting to and from the cabin.
Doing your homework before signing on the dotted line can protect you from the financial burden of unexpected expenses and help you determine if cabin ownership is the right fit for you. Whether it's a financial choice or a lifestyle choice, a vacation property won't be a restful retreat if you're struggling to keep up with the bills or regretting your decision.
Cabin season is here; time to take full advantage of it.
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