Should You Retire in a Cottage on the Lake?

August 29, 2011

By Margaret Hennessey

We’ve all seen that wonderful bank and insurance advertising promoting the ultimate ambition of retirement in a cottage by a lake.

The pictures are so appealing. He, looking out the window from his study writing his memoirs. She, with her straw sunshade, painting by the lake. Birdsong in the morning. Loons in the evening. An idyllic picture? Perhaps. Reality may be a tad different. After all the photos in the ads were all shot in the middle of the best possible season, summer.

Fast forward to the same location 5 months later. The loons have gone, the lake is frozen over, the snow is deep, the roads are difficult to navigate due to ice, your closest neighbour is 3 miles away and the septic tank is not functioning properly. Where is the retirement dream?

What many of us tend to overlook is that retirement can be a very long time. Just Google longevity on the Internet and you’ll find a variety of research projects suggesting that we may all live way longer than we thought.

A recent PBS special showed one senior home in Florida where most of the residents are at least 100 years old and still are driving and active.

I am seeing more and more retired couples at the gym these days, working out together and certainly planning for a long retirement of many years. In fact one of the people we mentioned in our free Kaboom-er eBook is 93 years old and still working out.

What has this got to do with housing? Well, I’m finding that the image of the cottage by the lake is becoming nothing more than an image and is not in keeping with the realistic housing needs of my clients.

Most are far more interested in housing that can provide security and freedom. Certainly, spending time by the lake in summer is terrific, especially when it is someone else’s property that you are renting.

By all means, enjoy the lake and the loons at the peak of the season, but seriously look at a purchase there in the light of year round living.

winter retirement residence I’m seeing more and more people who have chosen full retirement, having to cope with sheer boredom. In fact many are taking up basic employment just to keep in touch with the vibrancy of life. Look around at Tim Horton’s and many other such restaurants and check for the number of older staff you find.

Evaluate your current lifestyle, anticipate your longevity being longer than you had originally thought and plan your next housing move based on the reality of your needs, not the polished marketing of financial institutions.

Many advertisers try and paint us with the same brush and essentially attempt to tell us what we should be thinking and how we should be living based on our age. Those days are over. We are the largest group of consumers in North America and are individuals with individual needs.

You deserve to enjoy these truly golden years, doing all that you’ve dreamed of. Just make sure one of those dreams doesn’t require you to pump out a faulty septic tank in the middle of winter.

Margaret HennesseyAbout the Author: Margaret Hennessey is a 25 year award winning real estate agent who sells property in Pitt Meadows & Maple Ridge. She specializes in the housing needs of baby boomers. Many of clients are long-term clients who now need advice on their post retirement moves.

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