The State of Canada’s Cottage, Chalet, and Cabin Markets

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Not that long ago, Canadians were scrambling to purchase rural property to get away from congested cities, enjoy being outdoors, and find more room to breathe. After all, most people were working remotely, and most kids were being schooled virtually, too. Prices and sales soared, with properties being snapped up almost instantly. The landscape has shifted again—along with buyers’ wish lists. We asked REALTORS® in hot cottage markets what trends they’re seeing now.

How the cottage industry catapulted during the pandemic

“Things went a little crazy—almost every listing was sold in competition,” says Catharine Inniss, a REALTOR® and salesperson with Johnston & Daniel Rushbrooke, who sells in the Muskoka area of Ontario. “Prices went way up. A lot of buyers were choosing property based on the ability to work remotely and having enough space for privacy.” 

Alex Zamozdra, a REALTOR® and salesperson with Keller Williams Prestige, covering the Laurentian area north of Montreal, also saw spikes in the market during that time.

“Similar to the Muskokas, this area’s proximity to a major city meant there was demand for Laurentian real estate pre-pandemic and there continues to be demand today,” he says.

The landscape has changed 

As Canadians realized a cottage, cabin, or chalet could double as a principal residence, many who made the big move to embrace open air and a quieter lifestyle began running into unforeseen obstacles, such as facing longer commute times into work as businesses reopened their office doors.

“The overall demand, and consequently the prices, for real estate in the Laurentians has gone down since the beginning of 2023, when the average selling price in the Laurentians was $513,559. Yet despite the lower demand, the market remains strong,” reports Zamozdra. 

According to the Quebec Professional Association of Real Estate Brokers (APCIQ), the median price of a home in the Laurentians in 2024 currently ranges from $500,000 to $588,000. 

Inniss notes sales flattened out for a while as buyers and sellers waited for an indication of which way the market was going to go.  

“We’re seeing listings back on the market that were purchased in the height of the pandemic and now are either not needed, appreciated, or both. Offerings with substantially increased asking prices are sitting on the market when offered a year or less later. The market is still down slightly.”

Not as many cottagers are working remotely full-time, but many more are working a day or two from the cottage to avoid traffic and extend their stay, she adds. 

“It’s also popular to do a small amount of work while away. Connectivity is much better overall in Muskoka now.”

Buyers want different things now

In the height of pandemic restrictions, buyers may not have been quite as discerning about size, amenities, or even location. Properties that weren’t anywhere near the waterfront were also being snapped up, but that’s shifting, says Zamozdra. 

“The trend of buyers settling for any rural property that loosely meets their needs is all but over,” he reports. “We’ve returned to a pre-pandemic standard: large lots, privacy, access or proximity to water features, nature activities, and conveniences remain the most sought-after features for Laurentian cottages. I’m seeing less and less compromise from buyers searching for a cottage.”

Most are focusing on areas within an hour or so of Montreal, and avoiding more distant rural areas, he adds. That means towns close to the city—like Saint-SauveurPiedmontSainte-Anne-des-Lacs, and Gore—are still showing higher average sale prices.

Inniss is seeing buyers drawn to more classic cottage styles and seeking a different experience than the one they have at home. 

“Buyers want good waterfront, rustic cottages, and an opportunity to engage in local activities that reflect rural cottage country: farmers’ markets, maple syrup demonstrations, waterskiing, wakeboarding, kayaking, paddle boarding, and sailing are all back,” she says, adding more buyers are willing to wait for the right property rather than jumping on whatever’s available, as many pandemic buyers did.

Looking across Canada

According to RE/MAX’s Cottage Trends in Canada in 2024 report, inventory in Atlantic Canada remains limited, creating sellers’ markets in major areas such as St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador; and Annapolis Valley, Sydney, and Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. The same can be said for Central Prince Edward Island—minus Charlottetown—as out-of-province buyers continue to invest in cottages there thanks to more affordable options compared to Ontario or Western Canada.

The same report shows regions in Western Canada, such as Canmore, Alberta, and Whistler, British Columbia, are experiencing the same sellers’ market as Atlantic Canada, whereas markets like Tofino, British Columbia, are becoming more balanced. Overall, prices are expected to remain steady in Sylvan Lake, Alberta, and in Tofino and Whistler, British Columbia, despite a drop in sales. 

Prices vary depending on the area

Recent RE/MAX research showed more than half of Canada’s cottage-heavy areas are seeing more balanced, pre-pandemic conditions, with retirees and mostly Gen X families and couples as top buyers in this segment. The same report notes that close to 900,000 baby boomers are set to retire by 2026, so experts project increased demand for cottage properties.

The Royal LePage 2024 Spring Recreational Property Report predicts the median price of a single-family home in Canada’s cottage markets will rise to $678,930—up 5% compared to 2023—as buyers re-enter the market. The report, which includes price data for 50 areas, also forecasts that Ontario will see the highest boost in price appreciation, with properties expected to cost 8% more year-over-year.

 Across Canada, most cottage markets will see home prices go up this year. In Quebec, the median price is expected to increase by 2% from $396,900 to $404,838, while Alberta and British Columbia will see their prices go up by 4% ($1,288,456) and 5% ($1,140,825) respectively.

 Demand for country life has not abated, as many Canadians relax into the rhythm of working remotely from the lake for at least part of the week and make better use of their cottage investment, the study noted. And while the recreational real estate market saw record-low inventory that couldn’t keep pace with demand, it has since stabilized—although the report showed 41% of real estate professionals said they had less inventory than last year amid steady or increased demand. Prices, therefore, will likely trend upward for now. 

If you’re looking for a cottage, speak with a REALTOR® in your desired area to get a better sense of what the market looks like and what to expect as a buyer. 

The article above is for information purposes and is not financial or legal advice or a substitute for financial or legal counsel. is the most popular and most trusted real estate website in Canada. Owned and operated by the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), provides up-to-date and reliable information that makes finding your dream property easy and enjoyable. is popular with sellers, buyers, and renters and is accessible online and on mobile devices.

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