With the ever-increasing demand for property north of Toronto, particularly waterfront, prices continue to rise, and choices are becoming more limited. Or are they? With a little creativity and a willingness to explore different options, waterfront can still be found at reasonable prices.
About the Author
As I write this (January 2021), 55% of available waterfront property within 225 kilometres north of Toronto are priced over $1,000,000, while an additional 27% are priced over $500,000. This upward trend is likely to continue; however, waterfront property is still available and attainable. From my experience living in and renovating our family cottage on Good Cheer Island and knowing the shoreline from Meaford to Pointe au Baril, I’ve seen first-hand what’s possible when you’re motivated.
A critical first step is deciding on location. Are you open to exploring or do you know exactly where you want to be? Next, you’ll want to determine what is important to you. Do you want privacy, a view, a large property, or access to conveniences? Is the size of the home more important than the current quality? You may have to sacrifice something along the way, so referring back to your list of priorities will come in handy.
Here are some ideas on how to expand your options when looking for waterfront property:
Consider Island Living in Southern Georgian Bay
You can often buy a larger parcel of land and receive more bang for your buck on island properties. On smaller lakes, you may only require a small boat and find the seclusion and space outweigh the challenges of boat access. Personally, as soon as I get in our boat at Parry Sound Marine, I feel like I’ve “arrived”.
Waterfront Property Without Utilities
You may manage to find a great parcel of land, with waterfront, but off the grid. Not only can you drive to it – no boat required! – but your building options have never been better. Modular homes, kits, converted containers, steel-framed shells, plus all the new materials that provide superior insulation and open designs are available to you. In addition, solar has come a long way in terms of quality and price, and propane can be used for cooking and heat. You could think of it as a design for an island but with road access!
Tear Down and Re-Build
It’s happening everywhere. In Wasaga Beach, modern home designs that you’d see in North Toronto and luxury estates similar to ones in Forest Hill are popping up in townships like Tiny. 50’ and 100’ lots are common and securing your waterfront property with the dream of building is an excellent option. Georgian Bay shoreline communities in Meaford, Thornbury, Collingwood, Wasaga, Allenwood, Woodland, Deanlea, and Balm Beach all seem to be going through a transition of upgrade and renewal.
Buy the Place on the “Other Side”
Although a street’s inland side isn’t touching the water, you can often still see and enjoy it. You can enjoy the view when you go on a walk, and you have the additional benefit of not having to worry about shoreline erosion or punishing weather. Look for a property on the inland side that is slightly elevated, so you have a great view and find out where the nearest access point to the water is. If you’re not into water sports and swimming, this is a particularly great option in Southern Georgian Bay and it’s usually significantly cheaper than properties on the waterfront.
Purchase a Townhome or Row House Condominium
Another option is to purchase a condominium on Georgian Bay. These condos and townhomes in Collingwood offer excellent value, with some waterfront units or provide water access including on-site private marinas.
Of course, the final option is to renovate or add an addition to the existing structure if it doesn’t have the space you’d like. You can secure your waterfront property and enhance it over time. In short, don’t limit your options or discount locations before you do some research. There’s always a gem in the rough. If you expand the creative possibilities of what you can do, based on your priorities, you too can secure waterfront property in Southern Georgian Bay.
Craig Rennick is a Sales Representative of Sotheby’s International Realty Canada, Brokerage, and a member of The Toyne Team. He lives in Collingwood and recently renovated their family cottage on Good Cheer Island in the Sans Souci area of Georgian Bay.