This GTA couple dreamed of moving to a cottage. They just bought this $540,000 Kawartha Lakes getaway
Who: Monique Morel-Peseski, 53, systems administration specialist; and Kara Peseski-Morel, 43, special needs teaching assistant with the Simcoe County District School Board
The history: Monique and Kara met in 2009, when they competed together at the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival. They hit it off immediately and started dating. In 2010, realizing they wanted to spend the rest of their lives together, the couple bought a three-bed, 1.5-bath detached in South Etobicoke for $400,000.
They liked living in the area, particularly being so close to the lake. (Monique and Kara are both big into canoeing, kayaking and swimming.) But they had always imagined what it would be like to live farther outside of the city. Over the years, new condominiums sprouted up in their neighbourhood and traffic continued to worsen. Retiring to a private lakeside cottage would give them some peace and quiet.
They even knew where they wanted to move. Monique and Kara always liked Kawartha Lakes, where some of their closest family members live, located about an hour-and-a-half drive northeast of Toronto. There, Monique and Kara could afford a bigger property and enjoy a cheaper cost of living. They just needed to wait until the timing was right.
The move: In January 2020, Monique watched how Covid-19 impacted Europe and asked her boss if she could work from home permanently. Then, in March, her decision proved shockingly prescient, when the pandemic hit Toronto and the city went on lockdown. That’s when the couple figured it was finally time to leave the GTA. Monique could continue to do her job remotely, while Kara, who worked for the Peel Region School Board, would have to find employment with another district.
On May 27, the couple listed their home for roughly twice what they paid back in 2010. It sold less than a week later, freeing the couple up to look for a cottage in Kawartha Lakes. They wanted a two-bed, two-bath on a lakeside lot, with enough room on the property for their 30-foot travel trailer, for a maximum of $550,000.
After looking at more than 11 listings, the couple stumbled upon a two-bed, one-bath listed for $515,000 on Lake Dalrymple, located a 25-minute drive east of Orillia. It seemed like the perfect place. The 1,100-square-foot, one-storey cottage sat on a half-acre lot. They liked the open-concept layout with two sitting areas—one overlooking the lake and another TV room near a fireplace. The property also had a little bunkie that could be converted into a home office.
Monique and Kara knew there were multiple bidders, so they decided to make their best offer: $541,000 with no conditions. That sealed it. The seller accepted with a closing date of June 30.
The outcome: Monique and Kara officially made the move on June 30. Since moving in, they switched the bunkie into a workspace, added an additional bunkie for guests and built a sunroom. Monique continues to work remotely, while Kara, who recently got a job with the Simcoe County District School Board, commutes 50 minutes to teach students in Coldwater. But she finds driving in cottage country quite pleasant, especially compared to Toronto: “There are no idiots on the road,” says Kara.
They’ve enjoyed escaping the city’s cluster of condos and concrete roadways. Their bedroom looks right out onto the lake and, in the mornings, when mist settles over the water, it makes for a particularly pleasant view. They’ve seen plenty of wildlife, including quails and a baby bear. And, when the couple puts their telescope on the deck, they get a clear view of the sky, unobstructed by city lights and smog.
Living at a cottage has its challenges, though. They miss Toronto’s restaurants. The bugs are particularly bad during the summer. The power cuts out often so they had to get a generator. It can be really isolating, too, especially in the winter, but Monique and Kara have already met a bunch of their neighbours and Kara started volunteering with the township.
Next up: purchasing a pontoon boat to motor around the lake. Both Monique and Kara plan to retire in the next five to eight years. In the meantime, they intend to travel to Europe (when restrictions are lifted), take a trip with their trailer up to Northern Ontario and, of course, enjoy their new lakeside retreat.