Sun filtering through trees onto a Muskoka patio overlooking a lake

Everyone who has visited Muskoka has had the thought: What if I lived here?

Of course many enjoy the Muskoka area on a seasonal basis, coming to visit in the summer high-season, spending days on the lakes, hiking, and walking the many charming towns. But of course, there’s another set of Muskoka residents who stay year-round. Approximately 60,000 people call the Muskoka region “home” through all four seasons, which is around half as many part-timers.

What does it take to live in Muskoka? What are the challenges and opportunities? Keep reading to find out what you should know about moving to Muskoka.

Why you should move to Muskoka

First, let’s do a quick rundown of the positives. Why would you want to move to Muskoka? If you’re considering the move, then you probably have some reasons of your own, but there may be some benefits you haven’t thought of:

Beautiful surroundings - This one’s obvious, but you may still be surprised at the year-round beauty of Muskoka and the benefits this can have to your quality of life.
More space at a cheaper price - Depending on where you land, you could find both a home and a sizable property at a significantly cheaper price than in urban Toronto.
Community - It may take a while to adjust, but once you do you’ll find a friendly and supportive community.
Employment opportunities - Rural areas are great places to start your own business or find employment, especially in seasonal jobs or the trades.

Living in Muskoka: Challenges

If you stay in Muskoka year-round, you get to enjoy the best of a holiday destination right in your backyard. That includes boating, swimming, fishing, and enjoying sunny afternoons on the deck. But of course, there’s the other side to the coin: winter.

Winters anywhere in Ontario can be harsh, and they get harsher the further north you go. You may be able to handle this relatively easily in an urban area thanks to the many services set up to deal with it and the relative proximity of what you need to get by. But living in a rural area, you need to be prepared to be more self-sufficient.
So consider these factors for dealing with the winter in Muskoka:

How accessible is your property, especially once your drive gets covered in snow? You will probably need to invest in either a snow clearing service or equipment.
Are you ready to be snowed in, potentially losing power or other services for a time? Living here requires a certain amount of emergency stock to get through times of outage or isolation.

Keep in mind also that many businesses will close for the winter. Since the economy in Muskoka is so seasonally-focused, many local business owners find it more cost-effective to cease operations for a portion of the year.

Services and utilities in Muskoka

One reason why people move to areas like Muskoka is that they work from home and so want to prioritize location over proximity to work. If this is you, then you already know how important a solid internet connection is.

Luckily, if you’re near one of the larger towns like Gravenhurst or Bracebridge, you can look forward to high-speed fiber internet. Areas further out usually have to rely on wireless hubs, which are notably slower. Newer developments in satellite internet could resolve these issues in the near future.

Also - while you may think you’ve escaped the daily commute - consider that from a rural property you may face long drives to and from getting supplies and services. Yet another experience of living in Muskoka that changes drastically depending on how close you are to one of the larger towns.

Cost of living in Muskoka

Real estate - While rural properties in Ontario tend to be on the cheaper side, Muskoka is itself a highly sought after market, so choose carefully. Also, reselling your home could take longer.
Utilities - Living in Muskoka you’ll be looking at a significantly larger hydro bill than you would in an urban area.
Consumables - The further away you are from main transit routes you are, the more basic consumer goods will cost. Also, you are likely to spend more on gas as general transport in Muskoka is very car dependent.

Social Life

Rural community life is different. Of course we recommend that you find a way to integrate with any community you’re apart of, but in Muskoka that means losing your anonymity. People will know a lot more of your business.

Also, you should be prepared to establish more connections with people you have nothing else in common with except location. But, if you can navigate these challenges, you’ll enjoy being part of a helpful, friendly, and closely-knit community.

Posted by Leah Ambler on
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