But when they decided to buy a vacation home of their own, they looked not to cottage country in the Muskokas but instead to Collingwood and its ski hills. Cox and Munshaw are among Ontarians choosing second abodes in ski country — and not simply because of the slopes.
Cox’s family loves to ski and has been going to Collingwood for three years and she says the town — with its vibrant downtown, growing culinary and craft beer scene and many activities — has become “like a second home to us.”
“We love being there all four seasons,” says Cox. “You don’t get four seasons at Bala, as the cottage is water-access only. We can get to Collingwood from our home in Burlington in two hours door-to-door and it’s not the same heavy traffic as heading to the Muskokas.”
Their townhouse purchase closes in May and Cox anticipates they’ll spend much of the summer there and most weekends in winter. Her husband is a teacher and has summers off; her job as a vice president of human resources allows her the flexibility to work some of the time from home.
The family bought a new 1,326-square-foot townhome in McPherson Homes’ Blue Fairway for a fraction of the cost of the $1-million-plus cost of a waterfront retreat in prime cottage country. (For most current pricing, please contact the sales office.) Their townhouse at Blue Fairway will overlook the Cranberry golf course and is just minutes from both the ski slopes and downtown Collingwood.
Collingwood realtor Christine Taylor has noticed growing interest in vacation properties from buyers coming from the Toronto area. “A family from the GTA recently purchased a two-storey, 3,000-square-foot home in a waterfront development here,” Taylor says. “The parents like fishing and the son, who is in his early 30s, likes snowboarding so the parents will use it in summer and the son will use it in winter.”
Real-estate prices in the area have gone up 11 per cent in the last year, says Taylor who adds she’s seeing multiple offers for the first time in the decade she’s been selling real estate. Prices range from $200,000 for a 950-square-foot condo to $1-million-plus properties with stunning views of Nottawasaga Bay and the ski hills. Taylor recently sold an $850,000 home to a 30-something couple who live in a condo in Toronto but will use it as a weekend place to give their young daughter a yard and other kids to play with on her street.
In Collingwood, though Cox’s family loves to ski, she says they also appreciate the off-season attractions. “This year, we got into mountain biking, we do a lot of hiking and we go to the beach. And the restaurants and shops aren’t as crowded.”
Considerations before you buy
- You’ll need a 20 per cent down payment to purchase a second property beyond your primary residence.
- Think of where you’ll be in five or 10 years, advises Christine Taylor — will the property still be a weekend retreat or your home?
- Check into insurance — some providers are reluctant to cover properties unoccupied part of the year, others might have exorbitant rates.
- On the hill? Taylor says many housing units right on ski hills are used by short-term renters — and that can include weekend partiers, so in addition to possible noise issues, it’s hard to develop relationships with neighbours.
- Do you want to generate rental income? Condos associated with a ski resort may require their management to handle rentals for owners, and restrict how many days an owner can stay. Cox wanted her freedom of use, and also the enjoyment of choosing her own furniture and finishes. “It’s nice to be in the (Blue Mountain) Village, but it’s nice to be removed from it, too,” she says.