Canada is home to an abundance of natural wonders — from the glaciers and lakes of the Rocky Mountains, to the rugged coastline of Nova Scotia, to the otherworldly landscapes of Ellesmere Island in remote Nunavut. Beyond the beautiful views, the country also offers a variety of memorable activities, including safaris and meaningful experiences focused on Indigenous communities. And while our northern neighbor is famous for its big cities, it’s home to plenty of small towns set against the photogenic scenery, too.
Like many places in the U.S., the market for vacation homes in Canada has exploded during the past two years. Some of the most popular properties include lakeside residences and condominiums in the country’s biggest winter resorts. So, if you’re real estate shopping, we rounded up the best destinations to invest in a second home in Canada.
Prince Edward County, Ontario
Located on scenic Lake Ontario, about a 2.5-hour drive from bustling Toronto, this idyllic destination attracts urbanites with its many wineries, vineyards, and craft breweries. With almost 500 miles of shoreline, Prince Edward County treats its many visitors to sandy beaches and stunning views. It’s also home to the gorgeous (and popular) Sandbanks Provincial Park, which shelters the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation and five white-sand beaches.
“Recently, people have begun setting up shop and purchasing residences and recreational properties in the area […] Beaches throughout can be enjoyed in the summer months, while snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling activities round out the winter months,” said Jake Prescott, sales representative for Tracy Arnett Realty, Luxury Portfolio International.
Prescott noted that the average home sale price in Prince Edward County in 2019 was $675,455 CAD, and in 2021, it “ballooned” to $843,975 CAD.
Muskoka Lakes, Ontario
Constantly rated as one of the best places to visit in Canada, the Muskoka area, located about a three-hour drive north of Toronto, is home to lush forests, small towns, and scenic lakes that offer endless possibilities for recreation. This is a four-season destination, offering water sports in the summer, stunning landscapes come fall, and skiing and snowboarding during the winter.
When it comes to real estate investment, a lakeside home here is a foolproof decision. “Luxurious cottagers love to stay on Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph, Lake Rosseau, and Georgian Bay. There are many smaller lakes in the area for cottagers who prefer tranquility and privacy,” explained Sarah Tanguay, a broker with TrilliumWest, Luxury Portfolio International. She added that waterfront properties account for half of all sales in the area.
“In 2018, luxurious Muskoka cottages sold for approximately $5 to $6 million CAD. Today, those same properties are worth $8 to $12 million CAD, or more,” she said. “Property values doubling in less than five years is par for the course in Ontario hot spots.”
Whistler, British Columbia
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While many think of Whistler as the quintessential winter destination — after all, the town’s Olympic Park served as a venue for the 2010 Winter Olympics, and it has the largest skiable terrain in North America — this beautiful mountain resort north of Vancouver serves as a year-round destination. With three golf courses, multiple lakes with sandy beaches and water sports, biking and hiking trails, beautiful waterfalls, and zip lining, Whistler is just as busy in the warmer months as it is during the winter.
“2021 was the biggest year to date for the Whistler market, with more than $1.5 billion CAD in real estate sold,” said Wendi Warm, president and owner of The Whistler Real Estate Company Ltd., Luxury Portfolio International. “This was an increase of 35% from 2020, which was a record-breaking year itself.” She added that inventory levels reached a historic low in December 2021, with average transaction values continuing to increase.
Warm added, “The majority of Whistler buyers originate from British Columbia’s lower mainland, but there is a strong contingent from the U.S. and East Asia, as well as a growing population of Ontario-based buyers.”
Set against the towering, snow-covered peaks of the Canadian Rockies, Canmore is the perfect home base near the country’s most-visited national park — Banff, known for its picture-perfect glacier lakes, hot springs, and awe-inspiring scenery. Located a little over an hour west of Calgary — home to an international airport that services many direct flights from major U.S. destinations — this charming mountain town sits on territory that belongs to the Métis Nation of Alberta.
“Top neighborhoods in the area include Spring Creek Mountain Village, South Canmore, and Silvertip Resort,” said Jonas Gordon, an agent with Cir Realty, Luxury Portfolio International, noting that the town’s strong community spirit is just one more reason to consider making Canmore your home away from home.
Kelowna, British Columbia
With more than 40 wineries, this city on the eastern shore of Okanagan Lake — known as the “birthplace of winemaking in British Columbia” — is a paradise for oenophiles. The area’s five distinct wine trails, unique culinary experiences, and breathtaking vineyard views are the main draw, but those looking for a more active experience have plenty to look forward to as well.
Biking and hiking trails — including the beautiful Myra Canyon Trestles — endless water activities, and 19 golf courses are sure to get your heart pumping.
“The beauty of the area lies in the many hidden communities that surround Okanagan Lake. From McKinley Beach and the new homes with private dock access, to Okanagan Landing with the glorious Paddlewheel Park, Lake Country, and the start of wine country, and down to Peachland and Summerland with their amazing community vibes, luxury lake-access homes can be found around every cove,” explained Sarah Johnston, an agent with Cir Realty, Luxury Portfolio International. She added that luxury properties in the Okanagan Valley frequently come with a price tag of more than $6 million CAD.
South Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
The beautiful lake and lighthouse views that await travelers in South Bruce Peninsula are just some of the reasons why this heavenly corner of Ontario has been a top vacation destination since the 1800s. Its quaint towns with beachside boardwalks, beautiful sandy beaches, campsites, golf courses, and several marinas transform the area into a quintessential family retreat.
“Compared to other parts of Ontario, the southern Bruce County residential real estate market is still considered affordable,” said Julie Halford, a realtor with TrilliumWest, Luxury Portfolio International. “The towns of Kincardine, Port Elgin, Southampton, and Sauble Beach offer a variety of real estate options. Buyers can currently expect to pay at least $500,000 CAD for in-town, entry-level properties, including apartment-style and townhome condominiums.” But if you’re in the market for a luxury waterfront home, expect to pay at least $2 million CAD, according to Halford.
Sun Peaks, British Columbia
Winter sports fans have surely heard this name before. With 4,300 acres of skiable terrain, Sun Peaks is known as one of Canada’s best — and less-crowded — ski destinations. The ski-in, ski-out village is bustling with charming restaurants, cafes, and shops. Plus, it’s nestled between three scenic mountains and close to several lakes, making it the ideal year-round destination.
“Sun Peaks has issued the development plan for the resort, including a focus on tourist accommodations. There’s tremendous confidence in Sun Peaks for those looking to invest in short-term rentals, live or work here, or plan for retirement,” said Gianpiero Furfaro, a realtor at Sotheby’s International Realty Canada. He added that the most popular property types are two- and three-bedroom apartments, three- and four-bedroom townhomes, and preconstruction projects. As an example of how hot the real estate market is, Furfaro noted that Sold Altitude, a new development with 40 units, sold out in a single day.