“Affordable Muskoka” IS NOT an Oxymoron… Yet!

All The Convenience At a Fraction Of The Price

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   2 bdrm renovated condo in seniors’ lowrise $239,900/$461 monthly maintenance 
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Large renovated kitchen in the Town of Bracebridge seniors’ condo $239,900

Sometimes I feel like kicking myself for not holding onto a home in Toronto as the prices have risen to ridiculous levels. However, I only have to spend ten minutes in Toronto traffic to remind me that the trade-off was worth it.

 

Two hours north, Muskoka is a huge and vast region that covers almost the same area as the GTA. It is comprised of several towns like Huntsville, Port Carling, Gravenhurst and Bracebridge, smaller villages and hamlets in between and, of course, lots of lakes.  In my youth, when we came to the cottage from Toronto to Muskoka, mom would grocery shop in the city because there just wasn’t the variety up here and the prices were jacked up. Decades later Muskoka can boast about having pretty well everything one needs to live an incredible modern life. These days if Sobey’s, Wallmart, Shopper’s, LCBO or Home Depot doesn’t have it you can either travel an hour to Barrie or simply order it online.

Cottages have changed from a summer place where you dump the furniture you no longer want in the city to a place that is fully equipped for year-round use. And as I predicted twenty years ago, more than a home in Toronto, a cottage is an excellent investment. Where Toronto housing is spreading to the outskirts,  God ain’t making any more lakes. “What we have is all we’re gettin’.” 

However, for the time being, homes in the towns and villages of Muskoka have remained reasonable.  So when the time comes to sell that city house for $2.3 million   you paid $27,000 for fifty years ago, you can purchase an incredible home here in Muskoka for what is a bargain compared to Toronto. As I previously mentioned, today Muskoka has everything from fine dining to highly regarded hospitals, a variety of arts and cultural events to parks at your doorstep. Depending on where you buy, Toronto is a mere 2 to 2 3/4 hours away. (Actually, Gravenhurst is only 1 1/2 hours.) Taxes in the towns are reasonable and there you have water and sewers, parks, shopping, high-speed internet plus other amenities.

Offered at $249,900.  Newly renovated on 3/4 of an acre lot located in a small and historic Muskoka community.

For the time being buying here off-water in Muskoka is affordable, however, I must admit that I have seen a steady increase in prices and less product on the market. I think the word is out as more and more people are leaving the city for a life that is equally convenient but less stressful here in the Muskoka region.


Vince Grittani has been a licensed salesperson for fifteen years both in Muskoka and Toronto. He recently joined Solterra Realty Inc. Brokerage, in Port Carling, the heart of the region.  Vince has personally been buying and selling houses for thirty-five years and has owned and/or co-owned several cottages, city and country homes, condos and co-ops, attached and semis, both new and old construction on vacant and built upon land.

He is also known for his vast experience with cottage living and his contributions to the local and cultural community. Vince has written on a variety of topics for such publications as the National Post, Post Homes, Cottage Dog and Muskoka magazine, plus has produced and written extensively for television, stage and other media.  He owns and runs the successful casual TWG GUEST HOUSE in the village of Rosseau and  is the author of “The Weekend Guy; A Survival Guide” (Key Porter Books)   vince@weekendguy.com     www.weekendguy.com

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AFFORDABLE SENIOR HOUSING PROPOSED FOR THE VILLAGE OF ROSSEAU.

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      If you think the most common answer to the question “What is your biggest fear about aging?” was death, then you are wrong. One of the biggest fears is living longer than one’s money. And that is exactly what is happening all over the western world. In Canada. In Ontario. Right here in Parry Sound/ Muskoka.
Why is this all happening?   CLICK HERE FOR THE REASON
      Now, a second question. You sell your home to live off the equity. What happens if you are living in one of those privately owned, swanky retirement homes and  your needs increase. Physical and mental.  Suddenly you are paying $8,000 and upwards for rent, food and SPECIAL CARE a month! (This is not an exaggeration! Remember they are PROFIT DRIVEN.) By 80 you find yourself broke. What do you think happens next?  You get kicked out onto the street. They are not a charity. They are profit driven. 
      You are now your family’s problem, if they can afford or want to care for you. Or, you become the government’s problem. Often you would be sent to a long-term care facility even if you are not sick…that is, if there’s space available.
BUT THIS DOOM AND GLOOM SCENARIO DOESN’T HAVE TO HAPPEN!
There is a solution where;
  1. You  can still live in a house and have equity that remains part of your estate and is passed on to whomever you choose.
  2. You are living with people who share common interests.
  3. You won’t be lonely or depressed.
  4. You can still have a garden, have a hobby, entertain friends and family etc.
  5. You can still travel. Go to Florida for the winter if you want.
  6. Have a job if you want or need.
  7. You can still live with your spouse.
  8. You have control of your life and have a say in what happens around you.
  9. Most of all, can cost up to 85% less than living in a corporately owned “old folks home”.
      I am working with Shelley Raymond of Solterra Co-Housing.  As the executive director of the non-profit R’CAP  (Rosseau Culture and Arts Project), we are creating Rosseau Gardens. The plan is to begin with two, separate  residential dwelling units, or as you may know them, single family homes. We already have the land, two 1/2 acre lots in the middle of the Village of Rosseau, directly behind TWG Guest House . Working with architects Brad Culver and Cynthia Henderson, each home will not only include the owner’s needs but also capture the quaint charm of the village.
      At this time we are proposing that one home will have 4 units and the other 6 units. (This may change based on initial response and need.) Each unit will consist of a bedroom (or two bedrooms for couples), a sitting area and a fully equipped and safe bathroom. The units will share a gorgeous up to date kitchen, professionally decorated living room, laundry facilities, hobby/guest room  and screened in porch. (A necessity here in Northern Ontario). Each unit will also have a garage for storage or to park the car.  You control, with your own furniture, how your unit is decorated.
THE BASIC QUESTIONS ANSWERED
  1. Each unit will represent  approximately 25% shared ownership, depending on the square footage.
  2. Each deed of ownership is tenants-in-common which means it can be sold, transferred and become part of a person’s estate, NOT passed on to the other owners as in joint ownership.
  3. When a person (or persons) purchases a unit they agree to the “house rules” which includes everything from pet ownership to who can buy your unit when time comes to sell. Each unit, not person, has a single vote. This is a democratic household after all! 
  4. As we are still in the preliminary stages, each house may or may not be themed. In other words, if interest is there, it can be a house that accepts residents of Rosseau area, or artists,  all females, or ex-circus performers!
  5. Initially we’ll be looking for buyers at a similar stage in their life with similar needs. It may be four healthy, independent individuals. It could also be four individuals and a couple who need some assistance with maintenance, cleaning or meal preparations. Interest from the public will guide the initial setup. 
  6. Here’s a simple example as to why this is cheaper.  We all know that one of our biggest expenses here in Ontario is Hydro! So, you will only pay a fraction of the bill. Same goes for heat. Or, if a gardener or cleaning person is needed, instead of paying $20 dollars upwards an hour, you are paying $5. Snow shovelling? Only a percentage. As the needs and expenses of the household increases, they are shared by the users. If only two people need special care then the costs are 1/2.  But again, it’s a democratic household. You vote on what’s needed. Shopping, cooking, cleaning or personal care.
  7. Who decides who buys into the house? At the beginning, the first person to buy in decides who the second person is. Then they agree upon the third and the three decide on the fourth. Remember, there are house rules that are legally binding. But as a group, you can vote to change the rules. YOU AND YOUR HOUSEMATES ARE ALWAYS IN CONTROL OF YOUR LIFE, NOT A CORPORATION.  (NOTE: Four friends may want to buy the four units initially. This is the best possible way of knowing who you are living with!) 
  8. There are three possible ways of becoming a tenant. First, if you have the funds, you buy your unit outright.  Second, if you have only a down payment, we may be able to arrange  financing. Third, you rent your unit. Again, the house rules  will say whether rentals are possible and to whom. YOU ARE IN CONTROL of your life.
  9. Yes, a third party, an investor can buy a share, but they too must abide by the house rules. This is an ideal, controlled and inexpensive way for children to purchase a unit and have their parents live in it.
  10. Will value of the unit increase? Yes. Supply and demand will control the future price, but remember the purchaser must always comply with the house rules. Plus, you don’t buy this to make money, it’s to save money and not outlive it!
  11. What is the non-profit R’CAP’s future role? R’CAP’s role is only  the initiator. Our goal is to ensure that the units, when initially sold, are AFFORDABLE. We are applying to Canada Housing and Mortgage for funds to help with the initial setup costs. Governments on all levels are fully aware of  the challenges that an aging population presents. Shelley and Solterra Co-Housing has been working on the format for several years and the government sees this as one solution to the challenge. We also have access to care providers willing to work with our project when and if the need arises.
  12. What is the cost of a unit? The final price is yet to be decided. It will be affordable based on the final design, square footage etc.
  13. When? ASAP! 

What’s next?

Each unit or share will eventually  be offered on MLS.ca if needed. As we are still at the design stage, initially we are looking for interested parties who can share their needs, wants and desires. This is not a commitment to buy. We will ask you to fill out a confidential, online information form. Once our final designs are completed, those who initially show interest will have the first chance to buy. A refundable deposit will be required that is put into a trust account. ALL PURCHASES WILL BE GOVERNED BY THE RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE BBB, REAL ESTATE COUNCIL OF ONTARIO, and TARION (Ontario New Homes Act). 

If you are interested you can contact me personally at  vince@rosseaucultureandarts.com  or 705-774-4487, or through the  Solterra Co-Housing Contact Form 

Live long and prosper! 

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