Your cottage doesn’t just have to be a summer treat for you and your family – with the right equipment and maintenance, your Muskoka property can become your permanent residence. With businesses around the world exploring the benefits of remote work arrangements, moving to the cottage full time can become a reality for current urban dwellers. The cottage lifestyle can be amazing year round, but moving from the city to your cottage without taking the proper steps can be problematic.

Make sure your cottage is properly winterized

Muskoka winters can be unpredictable – brutal winds, heavy snowfall and frigid temperatures all make it important to be prepared. If your cottage isn’t properly winterized, you’re in for a rude awakening if you expect to last the winter. Many “four season” cottages are poorly winterized, and as a result are much better suited to short stays during the winter months rather than the entire season.

In order to last comfortably throughout the winter season, you’re going to want to ensure that your insulation is up to snuff, the furnace is working properly and has been maintained, and your windows are in good working order. If your old windows are letting in cold air, it’s going to put extra strain on your furnace and make your stay far more uncomfortable than it should be. Upgrading to triple glazed windows is a surefire way to reduce energy loss, keeping the cold air outside where it belongs.

Get serious about septic maintenance

If you’re considering an extended (or permanent) stay at the cottage, you’ll need to make sure your septic system is performing as intended, and that it’ll be able to handle the strain of year-round use. When you use your septic in winter, it effectively becomes a holding tank since the anaerobic bacteria don’t do their job breaking down waste in sub-zero temperatures. You’ll need to be sure that it will be able to handle the extra volume without backing up into your home. If your septic system is sized for light use, or if it is more than 20 years old, you’ll probably need to upgrade it before even considering staying at the cottage.

Consider winter road access and the accessibility of health centres

One of the most difficult things about staying at your cottage for the winter is that your road access may become compromised, especially if your cottage is located on a private road. If you’re part of a lake or road association, we recommend reaching out to inquire about snowplow fees – you will have to pay your association extra to keep the road maintained throughout the winter.

Even with your roads maintained, the location of your cottage will be extremely important if you have health issues – depending on your proximity to local hospitals, it could take responders longer to get you to a hospital than it would at your urban home. If you have serious health concerns and aren’t located near a hospital, you may want to reconsider a move to the cottage.

Your internet connection may need a serious upgrade

If you’re planning on working from the cottage, you’ll need to make sure that your internet connection is strong and reliable. We’re talking about more than hotspotting from your phone – if you want to continue emailing, video conferencing, and collaborating with colleagues, you’ll need something more powerful. Check with local providers to see what your options are – often, satellite internet is the only thing available to cottagers. If this is the case, you can probably rule out high definition video streaming and gaming, at least until Ontario’s long-promised rural broadband internet projects are underway.

With the right amount of preparation and forethought, a move to the cottage can be very successful, letting you and your family take in the beautiful sights and sounds of the Muskoka region all year long. If you’re planning on moving to the cottage full time, remember to check that your systems are functional and well-suited to four season use, make upgrades wherever they’re needed, and lay out plans for road access and emergencies. With everything taken care of, you’ll be able to survive the harsh Muskoka winters and enjoy a cozy stay at the cottage. For information about the high performance window and door products offered by Muskoka Window & Door Centre, contact us today.