At the end of the long Canada Day weekend, traffic clogged major highways as city dwellers returned to their homes after spending quality time in the wilderness of Ontario's cottage country.
But there were many who did not travel during the weekend and stayed right where they were - in the heart cottage country. Most of them were baby boomers, buying cottages to live in permanently. Thank boomers for making this summer scorching hot in Ontario's resort areas as the buying goes unabated, never grinding to a halt.
John Fincham, a broker at Parry Sound-Muskoka Realty Ltd., specializes in selling cottages in areas like Muskoka, Parry Sound and Georgian Bay.
For him, this year has been exceptionally busy:
We were able to sell 50 percent more compared to the sales last year and this is just the beginning of the summer. We are experiencing a huge demand from baby boomers looking for properties closer to the lake with unobstructed views of the sunrise and sunset.
What are boomers looking for?
Fincham says a combination of multiple factors is responsible for the surge of boomers to cottage country:
Boomers are opting for an exclusive lifestyle surrounded by scenic views of a lake or ravine over the busy, congested city routine. Here they can indulge in an array of activities at their own pace. In addition, health services in cottage areas are considered reliable and with the number of people moving in, it is bound to grow and improve further.
The cost of the cottages on the lake varies from $100,000 to $ 800,000. At the same time, the luxury cottages range between 1 million to 10 million.
Fincham says even though there might be fewer buyers looking for the cottages in winters compared to summers, cottage country is equipped with a surplus of activities for all four seasons. Access to better roads during winter time has opened doors for people to experience cottage country year round.
He is optimistic that this trend of baby boomers buying cottages will remain and even soar high in coming days.
With city life becoming more expensive, fast and hectic, the flow of boomers towards cottage country is becoming more alluring.
Torontonians are changing their lifestyles
His thoughts were shared by Richard Silver, salesperson and vice president of Sotheby's International Realty Canada:
Most of the boomers who have bought cottages are living in them. Simultaneously, there are many more that have made up their mind to sell their property in the city and move to the cottages permanently. As Toronto life becomes more hectic and busy, people have started looking for tranquility in the countryside, far from the ever-increasing crowd.
With cost of living in the city constantly heading north, we will see people renting out their houses inside the city and buying dwellings in the countryside. This is an inevitable and logical fallout of economics identical to the pattern we see in big cities like New York.
Photo by Tony Webster
Silver feels the reason baby boomers are now living permanently in the cottages is purely a matter of lifestyle.
If you crave for a certain routine in your life, then why drive every weekend for it; why not experience and enjoy that very lifestyle all year round.
In 2016, The Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) estimated that the baby boomer generation would inherit $750 billion over the next decade. One would think that the latest phenomenon of boomers buying cottages is the trickling effect of that CIBC report. But the same year, a study from Royal LePage had also said that members of so-called Generation X were buying twice as many cottages as baby boomers.
But in just one year, the cash-strapped boomers were able to surpass Generation X in purchasing the real estate in cottage country.
Boomers have a lot more money than their predecessors and also more than the Gen Xer's. Besides, boomers do not have children draining the bank of "mom and dad" anymore. Their kids are out on their own.
The market frenzy is shifting towards cottage country
A new study from the Frasier Institute reveals that the Ontario economy is highly dependent on the housing market. As per the former chief economic analyst for Statistics Canada, the study revealed that during 2016, the home-building costs and record high housing prices, accounted for 29 percent of Ontario’s economic growth.
In such a scenario, equity-rich baby boomers are making hay with their mission to combine and enjoy both exclusivity and nature's bliss. Market indications predict that the cottage real estate sector in foreseeable days is destined to witness bidding wars and relentless competition.