My wife and I have been searching for a nice cottage, on a lake, for about five years.  Our search appears to be over since we are now under contract for a Cottage on Lake Erie.

Lake Erie Cottage

Lake Erie Cottage

If you’ve ever undergone a search for a secondary property you will understand what I mean when I say that a big part of the fun is in the search.  Over the years we explored many areas along Lake Erie and Lake Ontario.  We have also spent time visiting and/or exploring Lime Lake, Faun Lake, and Rushford Lake.  We probably explored at least 25 towns and neighborhoods along the Lake Erie shoreline.  Our search even included a visit to the Chautauqua County Real Estate auction (There were bargains galore, except for the smelly lake front lot that we had interest in. That one went for a premium).

Because our search that didn’t require a quick decision there was quite a bit of fun in the search. Over the years, we were able to determine the features that really mattered to us.  Time will do that.  My list might certainly differs from my wife’s list, but they undoubtedly have a number of common items.

  • On a lake with a beach, rather than grassy shore.
    If you have visited Lake Chautauqua, you will notice that the lake is like spinach soup much of the year.  A large lake such as Lake Erie or Lake Ontario is more desirable, but certainly has drawbacks. My wife doesn’t like the steep drop-offs that often come with smaller, man-made lakes.
  • About an hour drive from our home, at most.
    At 1:05, we are pushing the limit.  However, this distance feels far enough away to be a vacation, but is close enough to hurry home should the need arise.
  • Investment potential
    For me, I want the cottage to have investment potential. I don’t want this to be an endless money pit, even if we get to enjoy the property along the way.   If we put work into the cottage, I want to be sure we are able to show a return on that investment.
  • Rental potential
    Continuing with the money pit theme, I want to be sure that the property helps to pay for itself.  To that end, the cottage must be in a desirable rental location.  The location that we selected fits vacationing families, wine tour lovers, and fishermen.
  • Work needed
    I am not the type who enjoys laying around at the beach, so I wanted to be sure there was plenty of work for me to do on the cottage.  Even thought this cottage is in very good condition, it doesn’t have the charm that we desire from a cottage getaway. My job will be to bring my wife’s visions to life.
  • Expansion potential
    The ability to add space to the property is a big plus.  In our price range, we weren’t going to be purchasing anything large.  We were fortunate that this small 2 bedroom cottage has a good sized sunroom and a 1 1/2 car attached garage.  The possibility to expand the living space into the garage without altering the footprint of the structure is highly likely. At the very least, this garage will make a nice outdoor room.  There are garage doors front and back.
  • Lakefront would be nice, but not a necessity (my wife would certainly differ on that point).
    Until we found lakefront at the price that was in my head, I didn’t see this as a huge sticking point. However, I doubt my wife would have settled for less.  She was right.  There is nothing like being right on the lake. Even if we are on a bluff.
  • Structurally sound, but in need of work.
    Dealing with structural issues is not fun.  Working on property is what we love to do.
  • THE RIGHT PRICE!
    That is the big one, and is the reason that it took 5 years to find something that we can grow into.  The price was right.  Not a steal, but a very good price for lakefront.

We’ll include some project photos and discuss our cottage renovation projects on WNY Handyman.