How much does it cost to rent a cottage in Ontario?

Ontario cottage rentals have been around for decades. Many families have returned to the same cottage year after year, and with each new summer, more people are experiencing this type of vacation for the first time.

Higher Demand

While there’s no crystal ball that tells us what will happen while we recover from the pandemic, the signs are that travel outside the country will be slow to return to normal.  This means more people staying close to home and consequently there’s higher demand for cottage rentals in Ontario than ever before.

For owners and managers the costs to service this is continuing to rise and has impacted rental rates.

Cleaning

In cottage country areas, finding a good cleaner has always been a challenge, and with Covid protocols requiring a significantly higher level of detail as well as risk, providers have seen an opportunity to benefit from the increased demand.

There’s been reports of cleaners charging up to $80 per hour for changeover services. 

So, when you book a weekend in a cottage and are surprised at the cost, remember that at least half will be going towards cleaning.  Add in a proportion for maintenance, heat and light, insurance and entertainment costs and the margin for the supplier (owner) is greatly reduced.

Wifi

We take access to the internet for granted in city locations.  In cottage country, it’s still not as widespread as we’d like.  Fibre connections don’t exist outside of the urban country and most have to make do with a satellite service that is limited and expensive.

In an effort to supply better internet services, some owners have sourced ‘unlimited’ plans and paying a high monthly rate on an annual service.  These fees are passed onto guests via higher rental rates. 

Enhanced amenities

Hot tub by lake

Traditionally, cottages were primarily rented for their locations and waterfront.  The accommodation was almost seen as of secondary importance so renters forgave the limited amenities and lack of the comforts of the city home. 

More recently, a different demographic has begun to enjoy the beauty of cottage country lake regions – one that has higher expectations – and many hosts are rising to the challenge of meeting these demands.

Old appliances are being replaced with stainless steel; dishwashers, washers and dryers are being installed, and kitchens & washrooms are being renovated.  Large flat screen TVs are replacing the old tube models and wood floors are going down where shag pile carpet once lay. 

In short, the cottage experience today is changing, and rental rates are rising to meet the cost of all these improvements.

So what should you expect to pay?

It really depends on the location.  The traditional Muskoka shorelines have attracted premium rates for decades and will continue to do so.  By going a bit further north or east rates are lower but don’t expect any bargains.

Here’s a few pointers as to what you could expect for your money for 2021.  Rates are for high season one-week stay. 

Under $1000

There’s little in this range anymore if you want private waterfront.  Maybe a very rustic cabin that still boasts the shag pile carpet and 70’s bathroom fittings, or a cottage with deeded access to the water which might be of dubious quality.  It would be tough to find a decent resort cottage for a family of four at this rate.  Expect to bring your own linens and clean it before you leave.

There are exceptions and if you are OK with sharing waterfront with the owners, you can find a little beauty like this one at $950 per week.

The Wendy House – Dunchurch

$1000 – $1500

A one or two-bedroom unrenovated cottage with limited facilities, panelled walls and few amenities.  These are often an owner’s tear-down purchase that they rent until they start the demolition and rebuilding process.  You might find a cottage around this price in areas with weedy waterfront, so if swimming is not your thing and all you want is to get around on a kayak or canoe, it’s worthwhile seeking one of these out.

If you are willing to go for a deeded access cottage, with the lake across the road, or a short paddle away, you could find the odd gem.

Arykat – Otter Lake – $1425 per week

You might also consider travelling a little further – north of Parry Sound, North Bay or in the Barry’s Bay area.

$1500 – $2500

At the lower end of this range – say under $2000 – you may find a smaller cottage that presents well and will accommodates 4 – 6 people in anything up to around 1000 sq ft.  3 bedrooms is likely to be the max and usually with just one bathroom. 

Lake Erie Beach House – $2500 per week

Once your budget goes over $2K the choice becomes wider and is very much location-dependent.  That amount could find you a nice cottage on a no-motor lake that will accommodate two families, or a smaller refurbished property in a more popular area.

$2500 – $3500

Usually well decorated and furnished, you won’t find grandma’s old mattresses in these properties, nor should you expect to be asked to clean the place before you leave. 

Cameron Vista – Kawartha Lakes $2800 per week

Expect a newer or fully renovated cottage with 3 – 4 bedrooms and at least 2 bathrooms.  Extra features such as a games room, hot tub or sauna and desirable waterfront are commonly provided at this price point.  Again, you will get better value in the less-travelled locations. 

$3500 – $5000

This range is where you’ll find higher-end cottages on many lakes and if you have this budget for two families to share, there could be excellent waterfront and superior accommodation at a relatively reasonable cost.

However, what you get for your money in this price range can depend on location. There could be an awesome cottage on an Eastern Ontario lake with 5+ bedrooms that you could only get on a Muskoka lake by paying double that rate.

Kosh Retreat – Kashabog Lake North Kawartha – $3600 per week

If you are willing to drive 3 hours or more to get to a property, there may be some better prices for great cottages.

Should you wait for last-minute bargains?

In periods of high demand, every summer week will be taken, and when one opens up due to a cancellation, there will be such a rush of people wanting to book, the owner is likely to raise the price instead of lower it.

Still Looking?

We are listing new properties every week and always send information to our Waitlist before they are published generally. Be the first to know of anything new that comes up.