September 2, 2020 | Buying

Rural Real Estate

The COVID-19 Pandemic has all of us thinking in new ways, including our purchasing habits. Take a moment to rewind to January of 2020. There is no way any of us figured we could go into lockdown, be masked in indoor public spaces, homeschooling for many parents, elevators restricted of two people in an elevator at a time, let along working from home for the foreseeable future. Some tech companies are stating that they will have their employees work from home forever. We are looking at how we live and where we live in a whole new way and rural real estate is gaining popularity as people want peace and quiet  .

Rural Real Estate Market

We are finding that many clients are now turning their attention to rural homes, cottages and chalets. For some buyers, this is a long-held goal that they have accelerated. In comparison, others are reacting to the pandemic without a clear sense of what the realities hold for them and their families. We have compiled several questions and insights to consider before you buy. And if you do decide that a cottage or rural real estate property as best we can help ensure that you make a wise decision, we work with some excellent local professionals who will look out for your best interests as well.

Before You Buy That Cottage Or Rural Property:

Drive Time

Remember when commuting times were long and arduous? Well, cottage country has its version of the commute. The drive time from the city to your recreational property can be significantly impacted when business returns to a new normal, possibly quite similar to our previous experience of normalcy. Typically rural real estate is relatively affordable within an hour’s drive of Toronto. Cottages are less financially accessible within the 2 hour drive time from Toronto. The reason being that this has long been the “reasonable” cut-off time for people working Monday-Friday then jumping in the car for the weekend. The distance at which people will drive to be out of the city has increased due to the higher desire to have outdoor space in nature. Keep in mind that the commute time will grow once people return to working from the office.

How Often Do You Plan To Use The Property?

It is essential to ask yourself how often you will be able to use the property, both during the short-term (i.e. work-from-home period) versus years from now. Most cottage users considered themselves fortunate to get 12 weekends up north, pre-COVID-19. Keep in mind that that is between 24-36 days out of 365. Having a winterized cottage would impact usability – keep in mind the below topic of “isolation” in some regions of Ontario. In contrast, chalet and country homeowners in Blue Mountain and Grey County see their ability to use their rural real estate property as a year-round option.

Expense Budgeting

If you haven’t owned a cottage or rural property before, it is essential to consider your annual budget costs for small items. As much as visiting a cottage or country home is terrific, some realities require a great deal of effort and responsibility for upkeep. Here are some key considerations:

  • Snow removal
  • Lawn care – many townships require lawn cutting – is this something that you have time or capital to put towards the upkeep?
  • Septic maintenance and emptying
  • Dock building and repairs
  • Annual winterizing costs
  • Insurance considerations – more insurers require frequent visits of more than 24 hours at a time to maintain coverage.  Possibly security surveillance in the off-season
  • Cell signal strength – does your carrier service the area?
  • Internet – especially with the work-from-home times, this is a significant consideration. Some carriers do not offer high speed in the less inhabited regions of Ontario. That being said, if you have a clear view, it is possible to get satellite internet – the cost to install is substantially higher as a tower may be required. More often than not, there is a solution; it’s just a matter of “at what cost.”
  • The Trades – keep in mind that trade workers may not be as prevalent, and depending on the region, possibly quite expensive to get work done. Some clients have had issues with finding professional tradesperson in areas outside fo the city. Especially in what have historically been the season or recreational areas. Many of these trades have previously chosen just to work the busy season and take time off during the remainder of the year.
  • Know your township building rules before you purchase – this can be a massive hassle for people who want to add an outbuilding, garage or extend the footprint fo the existing living space.


What we can all say from this experience of working from home during the pandemic is that we have experienced a new level of isolation. It’s no wonder that once the lockdown restrictions were slowly lifted that we rushed outside to move, to interact at a social distance to friends and family, and we increased our bubbles. Now it’s worth feathering the breaks when it comes to quickly purchase a property outside of the city – be sure to ask yourself how isolated you are willing to be. Many country homes and cottages do not have a metropolis nearby. There may only be a general store thirty minutes away. Do you know anyone in the region? Does that matter to you? Keep in mind that it’s worth thinking through your options ahead of time.


Toronto has myriad quality schools. We Torontonians have it great compared to many large cities in North America. We can typically choose which local schools we want our children to go to, and there are private or independent schools to select from as well. Should you decide to move full-time to an area outside of the city, it’s essential to consider what the local school option is. Typically it’s one school, and there is often a school bus pick-up and drop-off offering. It’s integral to think through the potential impact of the local school system for your children in an educational and friend sphere sense.

Before purchasing a cottage, rural property or chalet, it is incredibly important to consider your options in detail. We have had a large number of clients buy rural real estate properties outside of the city as an escape, lifestyle change or an accelerated long-term goal since the COVID-19 pandemic kicked-in. All of these have been great for them as we were able to discuss the many aspects to ensure that this is a wise decision for the short and long term.

We are here to help should you like to purchaser a fantastic getaway property. Contact us here, and we will walk through your options and help ensure that you get exactly what you want with professional, honest and wise advice.

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