Few cottage areas are as rich in recreation options as the south shore of Georgian Bay. Summer offers big-water boating, sailing, fishing, and long sandy beaches, not to mention waterparks, mountain biking, and golf. Come winter, the action (and traffic) is just as intense, as city dwellers head to the ski hills, snowmobile routes, and snowshoe trails of Collingwood. Add the 1½-hour drive to Toronto and amenity-friendly small towns — plus chain stores, supermarkets, and hospitals in nearby Barrie, Collingwood, and Midland — and it’s easy to see why more and more people are looking to buy here, especially boomers considering retirement options.
Yet, it’s these same qualities that repel some cottagers. On summer weekends, traffic on highways 400 and 26 can be migraine-inducing. Pressure for waterfront has driven up prices and, in the summer, centrally located Wasaga Beach can become a Daytona-like collection of muscle cars, bikinis, and thumping bass.
Many buyers will settle on a backlot (some in subdivision-style developments), particularly if they are looking for more affordable property or a place to double as a ski chalet. Cottages often have neighbours who live there year-round, and those with municipal sewers and water command higher prices. —M.S.