Is the country life for you?

Like most things in life, choosing to turn a cottage into a full-time residence has both its good and bad sides.

To help you decide whether retiring to your cottage is indeed an option worth considering, we’ve put together the following list of pros and cons. But remember, before taking the plunge, try spending a winter in the cottage before selling your main residence.

Moving into a mortgage-free cottage can free up a sizeable amount of money – for investment or renovations – when the family home is sold. Most of the retirees interviewed for this feature sold their main residence only when they knew for sure they were going to live at the cottage full-time. “Maintaining two houses is a big expense,” says Marcia Bowes, “and we were always worried about the other property when not there.”

Cons: Renovating and winterizing a cottage for year-round living can be expensive – and time-consuming. Extra expenditures can include a snowblower, or 4×4 for winter driving and a covered area or garage in which to keep it. Taxes, especially for a waterfront property, can be another important financial consideration.

Consider the potential for an active social life: Being part of a smaller, but familiar community group is a plus which many retirees enjoy. And a more tranquil, gentler lifestyle is attractive after the rat race pace of the city. Outdoor activities are also a plus – “The snow’s beautiful all winter, not slushy and dirty like city snow,” says Norm McCrea. “Plus there’s no such thing as rush hour in Gravenhurst.”

Cons: Cottage life can make you feel isolated. There aren’t usually many avenues for social happenings during the long winter months – no summer theatre, festivals, regattas and the like. There may be no friends nearby who can just pop over for a coffee, and shopping and other amenities (such as healthcare services) may be a long drive away. Popping out for a newspaper or video can become a major expedition.