Heidi Rittenhouse Pyper
Thursday, May 29, 2014 2:59 PM EDT
This Facebook status update really captures it:
Spring means opening up the cottage. With luck, you won’t find the wreckage my friend so humourously described. But even if the wildlife hasn’t taken up residence over the winter, there’s still the dock to be put in, the boat to be picked up from the marina, and surveying the property for wear and tear after ice storms, freezes and thaws. On Cottage Life Magazine’s check list for waking up the cottage, there are 46 line items – 46!! The last, mercifully, is sit down and have a beer…
When you rent, you drive up and unpack the cooler while having a beer, make the beds, have a spritzer, jump in the lake, start on your first book and fire up the BBQ – in a few hours.
All that relaxing takes work. If you own the cottage, you’re a home owner first, on vacation second. There are constant guests and that means constant cooking, shopping, cleaning and laundering bedding and towels. As a cottage owner friend and notoriously generous entertainer quipped, “At home I have a cleaning lady, I have a dryer and I have groceries around the corner. At the cottage I have to schlep everything up and then I’m on call the whole time - I never stop moving.”
Renting means you could guiltlessly disappear for a week or two without inviting the hoards.
There’s really nothing more beautiful than a Canadian fall. The leaves turning, the crisp blue of the sky, the chill in the air, the smell of woodsmoke. I love it, and being up north for it is a true joy. Less so, however, if you’re tackling closing the cottage duties. Thanks to Cottage Life Magazine, we have another to-do list titled, How To Close The Cottage In Two Days. And by my reading, it looks like two 18-hour days with short meal breaks.
Rent a cottage for Thanksgiving weekend and all you have to do is put the fire out and return the keys.
Cottages are expensive. If you amortize the number of days you spend there against the cost of property taxes and maintenance you could probably stay in fine accommodations in Zurich through to Labour Day.
I know, I know not all cottages are on Lake Muskoka and sleep 34, but even if the mortgage is paid off, it’ll eat into your vacation budget if you aren’t there all summer and skiing every weekend in the winter. And what if you don’t want to spend every summer and every weekend in winter at the cottage? What if you want to see Lake Geneva instead of Lake of *insert local dark-water body*? Or Africa, or New York or The Grand Canyon? Guilt!
If you are a renter, you can summer locally one year and head off to Delhi the next. Variety is the spice of life, after all.
Do you ever wonder why there are so many cottages for rent? We’re paying for the upkeep! So, now you’ve rented out your patch of paradise and you’ve given up the best weeks of summer because who wants to rent during blackfly season?
7. Septic System
Need I say more?
8. Unknown Neighbour Factor
You could be a die-hard cottage owner, but then one day, someone moves in next door and RUINS. EVERYTHING. They knock down the charming 1940s cabin the Applebees kept so lovingly, and put up a three-story tract monstrosity, with a boat house that houses motorized water vehicles in every size, for every family member. What then? Sure you could sell, but you loooooove your cottage!
Better not to get too attached. Cottages are like pets – families mourn them for decades after.
9. Environmental Wierdness
You’ve paid a pretty penny for that frontage on the crystal blue water and patch of green. The loon calls, the smoke curls from the bonfire and all is right in the world. And then, one day, you see the notice at the general store letting everyone know that blue green algae or some other weird environ mental disaster has been detected in the area and your lake is dying and swimmable. Good luck selling, never mind renting!
If fear of environmental catastrophe doesn’t scare you, how about a miserable 16 year old who wants to be in town with her boyfriend, or anywhere with her friends, so long as she doesn’t have to be stuck up at the cottage with her parents! My mother famously drove me to the bus stop in Bracebridge, ON, two weeks into our month up north due to said whining. I literally ruined her summer.