Moving to the Kawarthas? 10 Reasons Why You Should - A complete guide to living in the Kawarthas


You’ve rented a cottage, visited a friend’s cottage, boated past cottages along the historic Trent-Severn Waterway, toured the Cottage Life Show and you have always had the cottage lifestyle in the back of your mind.

Let’s take it one step further: what if you could live every day like you are on vacation—in the heart of cottage country, the Kawartha Lakes.

If you are considering a move to cottage country in the near future, either full time, or as a vacation destination, make sure you read this article first! You’ll want to know what you’re getting yourself into.

The Kawartha Lakes offers clean lakes, rivers, plenty of fresh air to breathe, and a laid-back outdoor lifestyle. All this, and less than two hours from the GTA. 

People who have been cottaging here for years love the lifestyle so much— they move here full time and make it their permanent home.

But is moving to the Kawarthas really right for you?

As long time cottagers in the Kawartha Lakes ourselves, that’s exactly what we did. 

Our cottage on Balsam Lake is now our full time home. 

We traded a hectic city pace and traffic congestion for a slower and more relaxing lifestyle.

As former city dwellers, we will share our opinion of the Kawartha Lakes and the surrounding area. 

Also be sure to check out the affordability of Homes for Sale. You’ll see that when it comes to purchasign power, moving to the Kawarthas and buying a home or cottage here is a very affordable option.

The good thing about the Kawartha Lakes and area is that it’s pretty big (geographically) and there are lots of places offering different lifestyle options to choose from. The bad thing about the Kawarthas is that it’s pretty big and there are lots of places offering different lifestyle options to choose from.  We’ve written this article to help you narrow down the best place for you, if you decide that moving to the Kawartha Lakes is the right thing for you. These are important considerations even if you plan to buy a cottage in the kawarthas.


The main locations to consider are:


Urban atmosphere, recreational facilities (indoor pool, community centre, tennis courts)  shopping and restaurants.

Small town feel within an urban environment. A good mix of new and older neighbourhoods.

Sir Sanford Fleming College campus is here.

Close proximity to Hwy 35/115 (with access to 407)


Bobcaygeon/Fenelon Falls

Small town feel where neighbours can be close by. Unique mixture of boutique shops and restaurants.

Water access to the historic Trent Severn Waterway - both private or public is close by, with plenty of beaches too.

These towns offer several types of adult lifestyle communities, designed for the active retiree.


North Kawarthas (Rosedale, Coboconk, Kirkfield, Kinmount)

Even more bang for your buck when it comes to home prices.

Smaller communities, farther north but only a 30 minute drive to Lindsay for major shopping.

Basic supplies (LCBO, groceries, gasoline, restauraunts) close by.

Outdoor recreation lovers will enjoy snowmobile trails, ATVing, hiking or cycling along the Victoria Rail Trail.


The Lakes—this is the Kawartha Lakes afterall —Balsam, Cameron, Sturgeon, Pigeon.

If you love to fish, swim, kayak, canoe, paddle board, or power boating, the possibilities are endless. And did we mention the Historic Trent Severn Waterway? With 386 kilometers of useable waterway, you will never get bored on the water!


What is living in the Kawarthas like?

If you haven’t spent much time in cottage country you probably picture people sitting on a dock, drinking beer or wine all afternoon, followed by an evening of roasting marshmallows at the fire pit.

Hold on, yes, these are certainly our favourite activities but it’s not the whole picture.

What about fishing, swimming, kayaking, canoeing, snowmobiling, skating, boating—water is a common element here—but we also have golfing, tennis, hiking, biking, shopping, restaurants and plenty of wide open spaces.

You can breathe fresh air.

Traffic is never congested—the busiest our roads get are on Friday evenings and Sunday afternoons, when cottagers are coming and gonig from the city. This makes for easy planning to avoid the rush!

People are friendly. 

Community is important.

And if you need to take a trip to the city, there are countless backroads and highways to get you there in less than two hours.

If you love nature you won’t regret moving to the Kawartha Lakes.  

Butterflies and flowers Kawartha lakes

We also have tons of history of early settlers dating back to pioneer days in the early 1800s.

Check out this stone wall along the shores of Balsam Lake drive (originally the Portage Road which connected the city to the country).

 Stone Wall Mackenzie Place Balsam Lake Kawarthas

Before we get into our Top 10 Reasons for Moving to the Kawarthas let’s get the boring stuff out of the way.

The municipality name is a bit confusing—although it’s called The City of Kawartha Lakes—we are not a city—it is mostly a rural area. It is the second largest single-tier municipality in Ontario by land area (after Greater Sudbury).

Kawartha is an anglicization of Ka-wa-tha which was coined in 1895 by the aboriginal Martha Whetung of the Curve Lake First Nations. It meant "land of reflections" in the Anishinaabe language. The word was later changed by tourism promoters to Kawartha, meaning "bright waters and happy lands."

 Balsam Lake Row of Chairs Kawarthas




The Kawartha Lakes has warm, sometimes humid summers and cold snowy winters. The snowier areas are typically the ones closer to large lakes, and snow usually ranges from 150 cm to 200 cm in a year in most areas. Perfect for snomobiling, skiing, snoeshoeing.

Not a big concern if you plan to travel south in the colder months.


Kawartha Lakes stats:

 Population:  over 75,000


So without further ado, let us share the 10 reasons why moving to the Kawartha Lakes is a great idea!


1. The Kawartha Lakes is Cottage Country living at its finest.

Picture this:  It’s mid afternoon, the sun and humidity are cooking.  It’s hot but a refreshing dip in one of our many lakes or rivers is just what you need.

Jump off Boat Balsam Lake Kawarthas

 Camp Fire Balsam Lake Kawarthas


Dean grew up on the shores of Balsam Lake before leaving for school. He then met Jennifer and introduced her to the cottage lifestyle.

Monday to Friday working in Toronto’s corporate world were just time holders until we could escape the hustle and bustle and get to the lake.

We did this weekend shuffle for over 20 years until we made the leap in 2017 to make Balsam Lake our permanent home.

The lifestyle pace is relaxed, the atmosphere is happy, and it seems everyone’s on vacation so no one is in a hurry.  We know a lot of people who’ve said they have been cottaging here for years, fell in love with the area, saw how relatively inexpensive it is to live here, and immediately started making plans for moving to the Kawartha Lakes permanently. 

Want water? The Kawartha Lakes has it almost everywhere—Balsam, Cameron, Sturgeon, Pigeon, Shadow, Canal, Mitchell Lakes, not to mention many rivers.

You can buy almost any kind of waterfront property to suit your needs. 

Private direct, deeded water access, public access, waterfront communities—many options exist.



So if you love the idea of watching sunrises or sunsets on over the lake and gazing at the starry night, you’ll see why so many people are moving to the Kawartha lakes to escape the rat race and find open spaces outside of a big urban center.



Sunrise Balsam Lake kawartha lakes 

Moon Rise Balsam Lake Kawartha Lakes 

2. The Kawarthas are Very Friendly 

It could be the small town, rural atmosphere or something in the water we drink, but it’s funny how we hear from people who have moved here from the city (it’s a growing trend) commenting on how friendly everyone is.

Ready to assist if you are stuck in a snowbank or need some work done, everyone seems to know someone who can help. 

“I know a guy who can fix that” or “call this person” is a common refrain.

Being longtime cottagers, we didn’t realize what a great sense of community is here.

Volunteerism is a big thing. It feels good to give back to the community.

Another example of how moving to the Kawartha Lakes can change your life for the better in so many ways!


3. History runs deep

Trent Severn Waterway Kawartha Lakes Relocation 

Where do we start? 

Lumber barons, railroad magnates, the creation of the Trent-Severn Waterway…

Believe it or not, the Kawarthas has rich history dating back to European explorers in the 1600s.

A wave of European pioneers arrived in the early 1800s and logging became the main industry. 

In the early 1900s steamboats carried visitors to large resort-type hotels. 

These vacation seekers were the first cottagers to the area.

Two main forms of transportation were water—the Trent Severn Waterway (TSW) was completed 100 years ago—and rail.

Although the rail system connecting rural Kawartha communities no longer exists, the TSW is enjoyed by thousands of pleasure boaters who can literally circumnavigate the world from the Kawartha Lakes.

But even if you are not an avid boater, the lock at Fenelon Falls (lock 34) is located smack dab in the downtown core. Pack a picnic or enjoy an ice cream cone and check out the boating action.

Lock 34 Fenelon Falls Kawartha Lakes Relocation Guide

Farther north, the Kirkfield Lift Lock (lock 36), completed in 1907, was a significant engineering marvel for the time period.

Kirkfield Lift Lock Kawartha Lakes Relocation Guide

4. Kawartha Lakes Weather has Fun for All Seasons

We get a good taste of all four seasons.

Warm, humid temperatures heat the relatively shallow lakes in early summer allowing for water sports like swimming, tubing, waterskiing and wake boarding from early June to late September. 

 Waterskiing Balsam Lake Kawartha Lakes

The lakes generally freeze in mid-December and we build a rink for skating and shinny until March. Snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice fishing are also popular winter activities for our gang.


Snomobile Kawartha Lakes 


Skating Balsam Lake Winter Kawarthas 


5. Moving to the Kawartha Lakes means more bang for your buck

Homes for sale in the Kawarthas are much more affordable than the GTA. You can actually still find a starter home for less than $400,000. And there are many options to suit your lifestyle—direct private waterfront, deeded water access, public water access, waterfront communities  or if you are looking for acreage—we have it. Or perhaps a home in one of our many small towns to enjoy a slower pace with all the amenities close by. 


6. Chip Trucks—Casual is king when it comes to Kawartha Restaurants 

One of our favourite rites of passage for the spring/summer is the Chip Trucks opening up for the season. Who can pass up the tasty goodness of deep-fried freshly cut potatoes?

Food Truck 

Or how about Kawartha Dairy and not just KD’s world famous creamy ice cream. Kawartha Dairy products—milk, butter, ice cream are popular retail items in our local grocery stores. 

Ice Cream Kawartha Dairy Kawartha Lakes Relocation 

But we digress… the restaurants in Kawarthas serve a wide variety of food at great prices without attitude.


In Norland you can visit the popular Riverside Inn, known for its large portions and tasty local cuisine, complete with Vegetarian-Friendly menu.

Riverside Inn Norland Kawartha Lakes


You won’t find a better pizza than at  Riverbank Pizza in Coboconk. Owner Don Edmonds personally sources his fresh ingredients and his hands on (literally) approach translates to some of the finest “pies” anywhere.

Riverbank Pizza Coboconk Kawartha Lakes 

In Fenelon, visit Murphy’s Lockside Pub and Patio. Literally a baseball throw from the Fenelon Falls locks, sit on the patio for lovely afternoon of pints while soaking in the sun and watching the boats cruise in and out of the locks.

Murphys Lockside Pub 

Bobcaygeon is home to Just for the Halibut—and we have to agree with this review:

“Great menu. Lots of choices. Exceptional service. No complaints. Will visit again soon. Loved the craft beer selection. Fantastic dessert options. Plenty of tables. No waiting. Quick kitchen service. Didn't even rush us out as we arrived close to closing time!”

Just for the Halibut Bobcaygeon 

Lindsay offers the largest variety of dining options from fast food, casual pubs to fine dining.



7. Water here, water there, water, water everywhere!

It’s called the Kawartha Lakes for a reason. 

And you can use the water in almost any imaginable fun way. 

Fishing, kayaking, canoeing, wakeboarding, stand up paddle boarding, swimming, waterskiing, pleasure boating, or just soaking in a sunrise/sunset, you can’t go far in the Kawarthas without an opportunity to get wet.

Waterskiing Balsam Lake Kawartha Lakes 

Paddleboard SUP Balsam Lake Kawartha Lakes 

 Fun on the Water Kawartha Lakes


8. Wildlife—The Natural Kind

Your party years are well past you (or they are for the most part) and here in the Kawarthas you will get a year-round chance to be up close and personal with nature. Deer, foxes, racoons are the common mammals you will encounter. But we also have a wide abundance of bird life—Great Blue Herons, migrating flocks of water fowl, humming birds, osprey and even the rare Bald Eagles—they are all here—keep your binoculars close by.


Deer Balsam Lake Kawartha Lakes

Ducks in Winter Balsam Lake Kawartha Lakes


9.  Wide Open Spaces

Even if you choose to live in one of our quaint small towns, you will find an abundance of space everywhere. Space to breathe, hike, walk, ride a bike, enjoy the water and you will never need to look up to see the sky.


10. The Victoria Rail Trail

Victoria Rail Trail Kawartha Lakes

Hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, cross-county skiing, ATV and snowmobiling enthusiasts can explore the area's most 
scenic land. Travel through areas that (aside from the trail itself) look as though they have never been touched by human hand.

The Victoria Recreation Corridor is a rail trail that stretches from Lindsay, Ontario to Kinmount Ontario.
It is 55 km in length.

The trail follows the former CN rail line which was constructed beginning in 1874.
The start of construction also coincided with the incorporation of the village of Fenelon Falls.

Victoria Rail Trail Map Kawartha Lakes
From Fenelon Falls south to Lindsay is a  22 km stretch and follows Sturgeon Lake. It's just a quick 10 km into the community of Cameron. From Cameron the trail travel towards Ken Reid Conservation Area. There are hiking and mountain biking trails through the park.
Once you arrive,  there is a marsh boardwalk, beach area and prime Osprey viewing. T
he area is also equipped with picnic tables and shelters.
This public, multi-use trail calls to the explorer in all of us.



11. The Kawarthas are Dog Friendly 

One of the promises we made to our kids when we moved here permanently four years ago was that we would get a dog.  Our black Labrador pup Pepper joined our pack two years ago. Unlike city dogs, Pepper has the run of the world and lakes.


Pepper Dog Kawartha Lakes Balsam Lake Boat


Final Thoughts on Moving to the Kawarthas

Whether you have made the decision or are just toying with the idea of moving to cottage country, you can now see it is a great place to live, work and play. Lots of fun things to do with a quieter pace of life that will allow you to see the sky without looking up.  

Living in the Kawarthas is like living every day like you’re on vacation.

If you’re seriously thinking about moving to cottage country, or just have a few more questions before deciding, please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions about the Kawartha area.

If you still have questions about a potential move the Kawarthas, get in touch with us HERE, or send a text to 416-889-2963. We can help you with whatever information you’re looking for, or at least point you in the right direction. 




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Here are some other links you might like:

The 5 People you need when buying a home

Home Inspections 101: Why a home inspection in cottage country is important

HGTV Effect: Buying a cottage is not like on TV!


About the Authors: The article above on Moving to the Kawarthas was provided by Dean Michel and Jennifer Bacon, authorities on Kawartha Lakes real estate and leaders in the field of real estate blogging.  Dean and Jenny love to use blogging, YouTube, social media marketing, and all things techie to serve thier clients and grow their real estate business.  

Are you thinking of selling your home? we are very good at marketing homes to sell quickly, and for more money. If you’re a first-time cottage buyer then you’ll be in good hands – we’ve helped countless first-time buyers through the entire process of buying that first cottage!  

We help people buy and sell real estate throughout the Kawartha Lakes and Haliburton County.   Thank you for reading Moving to the Kawarthas – 10 Reasons why you Should!