Cottage that moves

How about a cottage that moves?

May 23, 2014

Soaring cottage prices are making vacation home purchases unattainable for many people.  But with the rumour that summer might actually arrive this weekend, we thought it timely to look at some lake and recreation alternatives that are more affordable.

Recreational vehicles, boats and even timeshares are choices for some people, and the proponents of these options are very enthusiastic.

My personal favorite is the sailboat.  Here’s the list of positives:

  1. Price - you can purchase a live aboard sailboat today for as little as $20,000 (used), have room for four adults to sleep and as many as 14 to visit for $50,000-$70,000, and live in luxury that rivals a home or cottage for $130,000.
  2. Cheap on gas - we typically sail 400-600 nautical miles over a five-month season, and only spend $140 on diesel fuel.
  3. Waterfront view - which is ever-changing.  There’s nothing like waking up to a sunrise through the mist on the water.  And if you don’t like the view, you move.
  4. Great neighbors - again, if you don’t like the neighbors, you just move.  The usual weekend process is to have a spirited sail to a secluded island, and then raft up with the boats of your choice.
  5. Preventing Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia - OK, this one may be a stretch, but research suggests that  mental challenges and problem-solving, combined with physical activity, help keep you young.  Sailing delivers all of that in spades.

Powerboats offer a lot of the same advantages and one more, which is usually a lot more room.  If your budget allows you to go over $100,000, you can have a virtual house on the water.

The two most populated marinas for Manitoba boaters are Northern Harbour, just east of Kenora, and Gimli Yacht Club.  In both cases, rental slips can be tough to get due to demand, but there is some annual turnover.  Silver Harbour on Lake Winnipeg and Pelican Lake near Ninette are also popular choices for Manitobans.

Attractive boats are available for sale at all locations.  Check the clubs’ websites, online sales sites or specialty boat brokers like

Recreational vehicles cover the same range of price and space, but share the powerboats’ thirst for fossil fuels and frequent fill ups.  However, that problem can be solved by renting a seasonal lot and parking.  In terms of luxury and space, the sky is the limit with RVs.

Any residual boating and fishing urges can be met with anything from a canoe to a used tin boat to a pontoon cruiser or, dare I say it, a personal watercraft or wake boat.

Naturally, we also have to talk in terms of investment.  When you own a cottage and the land on which it sits, you have the potential for appreciation and capital gains down the road, if you’re willing to sell.

Even cottages on leased land have gone up in price and changed hands, subject to approval of the lessor and a sufficient term left on the lease to make it worthwhile for the buyer.  My observation is that sailboats depreciate slowly, but the powered vehicles tend to depreciate more quickly.

Upkeep and maintenance on all of these choices is usually proportionate to the size and price.  A bit of do-it-yourself talent is an awfully useful thing, in all cases.

So, as we finish a six-month period with 176 days of below average temperatures, you may be getting very, very antsy to get out and enjoy a warm, mosquito-free summer. 

However you choose to experience it, I hope you have a great one!

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Dollars and Sense is meant as an introduction to this topic and should not in any way be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice.

Please consult legal, tax and investment experts for advice on your unique situation.


David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIMis a financial planner and advisor with Christianson Wealth Advisors, a Vice President with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.