Looking for waterfront property in Kingston? Read this before you buy…

When the weather turns fine, it’s hard not to envy people with access to the water, especially in Kingston, where the lake, river and canal are so beautiful. But buying on the water can bring special considerations to a purchase. Here are a few things to consider before you start shopping for a cottage or similar property.

Quality of the waterfront:

Not all waterfront is created equal – and it’s not always obvious from photos or maps if the frontage of a property is swimmable, drinkable or fishable. It’s important to have an agent who knows the area, things you only know from spending time there. “I have alliances with other agents who specialize in areas like Wolfe Island and Frontenac, and I’ll draw on their expertise if I have a client who is looking in those areas,” Jake says.

Building challenges:

Like country properties and cottages, waterfront properties can have special considerations and challenges. There may be a septic tank, drilled or dug well – water quality can be an issue. Waterfront set backs have changed over the years and some buyers may think they can buy an older property nearer to shore and then renovate, but the cost of a contractor can be higher in rural areas. “A contractor may charge more for time to get out there, or charge a premium on difficult conditions,” Jake says.


When it comes to cottages, values in the Kingston area have been somewhat stagnant. “Except for certain premium lakes with a very short commute into the city, values aren’t moving much,” Jake says. That said, there is good value in Bath and around. “You can purchase waterfront property in the area for under 500K, on Lake Ontario. Many have good boat access and good views, but not so much good swimming.”

Access vs. Views:

“If all you want is the view, there might be value across the street from waterfront properties, or in well-situated condo buildings.” Jake says. “Access is what drives up the price. Humans are lazy! If we have to put our shoes on and cross the street, 50 paces further, we know we’ll use it a lot less.”

Ways to enjoy the water without buying:

If you are thinking about buying on the water but you’re not sure it’s for you, it probably isn’t. “Owning a cottage is a lot of work. You really have to want it.” And for two months in high summer, it can feel like you really, really want it. Jake’s advice? “Rent a cottage! Take a week off and go enjoy all the perks, with none of the downside!”

And if waiting for your next holiday isn’t an option, just take a day to enjoy the waterfront right in front of you. “Take the ferry over to Wolfe Island. Spend some time at the beach and finish the up your day at the Wolfe Island Grill. If you’re lucky, you’ll meet someone with a boat. Make friends with them!”

If you really really want a cottage or waterfront property, email Jake at jc@royallepage.ca and let him try to talk you out of it.