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For most celebrities, the summer months are almost exclusively reserved for vacationing, traveling, and relaxation in different parts of the world. For many years, places like the Hamptons, Caribbean Islands, or Malibu have been the go-to vacation spots for most celebrities. Unfortunately, these locations have gotten crowded over the years; plus, paparazzi are always hanging around during the summer months, waiting to catch a photo or two. This has by no means reduced the popularity of scenic locations, but it has birthed a hunger for alternatives, preferably outside of the U.S.

Cue Muskoka. Currently one of Canada’s most sought-after waterfront locations and a place where its growing popularity as a vacation location for the rich and famous has earned it the name; “The Hamptons of the North”. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg are two of the most famous names to have planted their roots in Muskoka, but if we go back even further, Muskoka was attracting celebrities long before Hanks and Spielberg set foot on it. In the thirties, the legendary Bigwin Resort was a favorite location for Clark Gable, and Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway.

“To describe Muskoka is like trying to put into words a beautiful dream you just had,” Steve Haid, a luxury waterfront realtor, says, “It’s best that you experience it rather than hear about it; beautiful lakes, unique boat houses, and a variety of cottage-style lake houses from different eras, it’s something out of a storybook really.”

The fact celebrities like Justin Bieber, Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Kate Hudson, Martin Short, and a host of Canadian celebrities, professional athletes, and social media influencers own or rent cottages in the area goes a long way to confirm Haid’s account.

Haid is a prominent resident of one of the lake houses along Lake Muskoka; as a real estate investor and agent with over ten years of experience, he has established himself as someone for people seeking to purchase or sell property in Muskoka and its environs to go to.

Muskoka famously welcomed its inaugural Tall Pines Music and Arts Festival this summer after the pandemic shut down the entire region. As restrictions eased plans for the festival ramped up.

“It’s absolutely a godsend. Music heals, and that’s what we really want to do with this festival,” said Kevin Goodman, the organizer and CEO of Front Row Centre Music and Entertainment.

“It’s so amazing to be back to live music,” said Goodman. “It’s so amazing to be here in Muskoka. We are thrilled for the emotion that live music brings.”

Janet O’Connell, the former executive director of Muskoka Tourism said on the growth of the entertainment industry post-pandemic as a whole pre her departure, “They’re so important to our economy. Reopening does not mean recovery for tourism businesses; many of our businesses have taken on a lot of debt.”

In the early 1930’s American billionaires such as the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Mellons had already discovered Muskoka and the lakes around it. They started building mansions along the banks of the lakes, and ironically, they called these mansions “cottages”. Muskoka has since kept up that tradition of building and maintaining thousands of cottages around the area.

While Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg own cottages on Lake Muskoka, others like Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell own cottages along Lake Rosseau.

The Muskoka area is marked out by the plethora of lakes that adorn it; Lakes Muskoka, Lake Rosseau, and Lake Joseph, amongst many others.

“Property in Muskoka is not cheap; I’ll tell you that,” Steve Haid opines, “But it is one of those properties that celebrities and investors love because it tends to hold its value and appreciate significantly over time. As more popular faces come to the area, the value of the properties is only going to go up.”

Muskoka is increasingly attracting more attention from the rich and famous internationally; Sometime in August 2022, Mark Wahlberg and David Beckham were seen spending quality time along one of the lakes, which has sparked more positive rumors about Muskoka.

Investment Returns

The properties around Muskoka are not just sought-after for their aesthetics; they also double as high-yielding assets. While many celebrities own summer homes in the areas, others purchase these cottages and properties to generate income.

According to Haid, “Many investors buying cottage properties here are renting out their properties and earning strong returns. The rental income here is extremely high and this has been attractive to many real estate investors. Real estate owners, including celebrities and professional athletes who are often on the road or on set most of the time, utilize these properties to earn high income returns. By renting them out on a short-term basis, say 20 to 25 weeks, they can earn anywhere from 8% to 10% capitalization rates which is incredible as a real estate investment.”

However, with the real estate market going into a cool down this year in Canada – including Muskoka – demand has levelled off to a degree, as the world slowly inches back to pre-pandemic levels.



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