7 Ways Renting Cottages Beat Owning One - and it's NOT just money

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by Robin and Ed

We are mourning a loss this summer. Our favourite rental cottage - one we've been going to since our daughter was 6 months old - was sold to a new owner. Will they rent it? We don't know.

It was a good run of years and we've lost count of how many summers we've spent anywhere from a full week to a few days there. Family, friends and pets have got to enjoy the beauty of Whitestone Lake and the joys of renting a cottage.

But, while we're a bit sad - we think our next rental outside Old Quebec City will help us get over it quite nicely.

Owning a cottage or vacation property is a savings goal for many. We can also admit to being tempted. But our years of cottage renting have shown us that there are many rewards - both financial and lifestyle – that can be realized by not buying a cottage.

For your consideration: our list of reasons why it is so much better to rent a cottage than to own one.

  1. Location, Location, Location! 
Ownership means buying in your budget and most of us will never afford the $8million+ Muskoka area luxury cottages. But if you plan your vacation budget right, you just might finagle one week rental of one.  If that's what floats your boat.

Bonus cottage shot featuring a cute puppy.

  1. Freedom to Explore. 
Owning a cottage means coming back to the same spot every year, which for lots of people is a draw. But renting allows you to explore a different locations any time you like.

Your cottage can be on an inland lake, a secluded woodland lot or next to an ocean. (We've done all of these!)  It could be in any province or state (or country!) you feel like visiting.

And if you do find a spot you like, what's to stop you from coming back to it every summer like you own the place?

  1. Invest your money at a higher return

Owning a cottage, for most, will mean another mortgage, another set of property taxes and utility bills not to mention all the upkeep. All of this, conservatively, could easily total $15,000/year.

And while it may grow in value, when you do sell, the capital gain is taxable, as the cottage isn’t likely your primary residence. With the money you save you could easily rent you a few different cottages each summer and still have leftover money to pour into an RRSP for tax-free growth.

Thanks to renting, we now know about great board games like "You Might be a Redneck..." and "Ouija".  
And, thankfully, didn't pay a cent for them.

  1. Less Risk.
Life is full of many surprises and if you find yourself facing a bad one (major illness, job loss, etc) looking after a cottage is the last thing you’ll want to have to juggle. Renting allows you to cottage more when you can and less (or not at all) when you can’t.

Also, we discovered the little known festival "Flarvest Thyme"!

  1. Don’t Spend Your Time (or money) on Maintenance and Repairs.
When we rent, one of the things we always talk about is all the little projects and upkeep that we would be doing if we were the owners. But, as renters, we don’t have to lift a pinky – in fact if we did do some  home improvements on our cottage vacation - we’d get in a lot of trouble.

All we can do is sit back, enjoy the view and have a cold drink - perhaps followed by a nap. The painting, new water pump and deck boards that could use replacing are someone else’s problem.

  1. Get the right place for you at your life stage.
Some cottages are small, one bedroom things perfect for a couple. Others have room for several families in outbuildings and bunkies. When you rent, you get to pick what you want to have.

Just starting a family? Get a 2 bedroom. Family Reunion or cottaging with friends this year? Find a place that sleeps 12 and has a double kitchen.

You only need to pay for what you’ll actually use that week you choose to rent.

This family of Loons could rent a cottage for 22 this year and a smaller one when the kids leave the nest (groan).

  1. Toys Included.  
Cottage life has many “hidden costs”, and a big one is all the little toys you end up adding to make it even more fun. Canoes, inflatables, docks, rowboats, beach toys all add up. Every cottage we’ve ever rented has been well outfitted with all this stuff already – we just show up and use it.

We don't own a rowboat, but we row like we do. 
Actually we kinda suck at it, but hey, not our boat.

So yeah, are we sad that our favourite place isn't ours to rent anymore? Yes, yes we are. But are we excited to explore new areas, swim in different lakes and find a new favourite? Absolutely.

Do you have a cottage rental habit? Or are you convinced that ownership is the way to go?  Tell us about it!

1 comment

  1. Cane and I just got back from a few days on the Oregon coast, and THIS is the post I've been thinking of writing ever since. At first I drooled over the cabin we stayed in and wished it were mine. Then I started thinking of all the costs involved in owning and decided that renting is definitely the better deal--for all the reasons you listed here.


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