Family life

6 truths about cottage living

Ever dream about life in the country? Jennifer shares what surprised her about making the move from city to country.

By Jennifer Pinarski
6 truths about cottage living

Photo by Kallie Hubbard via Flickr.

Despite growing up on a farm, I’ve spent most of my life as a city girl. Making the choice to leave Winnipeg to raise our kids in Ontario’s cottage country was easy — we wanted to give them the kind of childhood memories that I had. Making the move from big city to small town has had it’s challenges. Here are the things that have surprised us the most. 
Your favourite foods are hard to find
Organic non-GMO quinoa? Veganaise? Fair trade vegan chocolate? Your favourite big city grocery store staples will be tough to find. I tried my hardest to feed my family organics when we first moved, but the scarcity and cost of organic made me give up. My compromise to organic produce is to buy from my farming friends while skipping the mayo on my veggie burgers.
Your car will become a garbage truck
Taxes for our cottage home are the lowest we’ve ever paid as home owners. The trade off? No garbage or recycling pick up so at least once a week our household garbage gets stuffed in the back of our station wagon and driven to the closest transfer station (also known as the dump). It’s not so bad in the winter when we can freeze our garbage outside beforehand — but in the summer the fruit flies and smell are pretty gross. 
Culture shock
I took my first school field trip to Toronto when I was in Grade Seven, where I saw homeless people sleeping on sidewalks and people with different coloured skin. I remember asking my teachers why people didn’t have houses or look like me. Same goes for my kids — a trip to Toronto leaves them slack jawed and staring, with us explaining gently that we live in a big world.

Sharing your town with 10,000 friends
Our cottage country town has a population of 1,500 in the winter, but grows by 10,000 as city slickers return to their cottages in the summer. This means traffic, higher gas prices, hot dog bun shortages and line ups for ice cream at my hometown dairy. But it also means a thriving economy and successful small businesses that keep our alive in the off-season.
Internet access
Love your Netflix and low-cost high-speed Internet? Be prepared to shell out more cash for that luxury. For not-so-high speed satellite Internet that cuts out during the kids’ favourite episode of Max & Ruby, we pay more than $100 per month. And not to mention the trees we had to cut down to even get it installed so that the satellite dish would have a clear path.
Spiders, mice, ants, raccoons, bears, toads, snakes and skunks. On one of our first nights in our new home we caught 10 mice in snap traps and, while I’d like to be kind with all of Mother Nature’s creatures, the exterminator is now my favourite person in town. We’ve had to call them in for wolf spiders and carpenter ants and may need their help again with the poison ivy that covers our waterfront. We are constantly battling raccoons and no matter how many toads I catch (record is four in one day), I’ll never get used to them peeing on me. On the other hand, I've seen deer on every trail run this week, and they're cute and I know they won't eat me.

Tell us about your summer cottage adventures!

Photo by Kallie Hubbard via Flickr
This article was originally published on Aug 28, 2012

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