Cheapest recreational properties in Western Canada

You can buy six acres of B.C. lakefront for less than $40,000 while most Saskatchewan and Manitoba cottage prices haven’t budged in a year

Western Investor
July 19, 2017

Priced from $199,900, oceanfront lots on Sidney Island are considered a best recreational buy in the Gulf Islands of B.C. | LandQuest Realty Corp.
Five acres with a small cabin at Francois Lake in B.C.’s high Cariboo is listed for $52,900. | LandQuest Realty Corp.
Six acres of oceanfront on Haida Gwaii, with power to the lot line, is listed for $139,000 by Sam Hodson of LandQuest. | LandQuest Realty Corp.

The benchmark price of a detached house in Metro Vancouver is now $1.3 million and a typical condominium apartment is $600,000, so $50,000 will buy less than 80 square feet of housing in the city.

But it is much different in the recreational market of vast British Columbia, where a day’s drive can lead to lakefront acreages for less than $40,000, according to exclusive data provided to Western Investor’s annual Recreational Investment Report by Niho Land and Cattle Company and its subsidiaries, LandQuest Realty Corp. and Landcor Data Corp., which tracks all B.C. real estate title transactions on a weekly basis.

We also scoured the Prairie Provinces to unearth the best recreational land prices east of the Rockies.

In British Columbia, the lake-rich Cariboo offers the best recreational value, according to Niho founder Rudy Nielsen. This year, the average price paid for a Cariboo recreational title is $87,845, a 21 per cent increase from three years earlier.

The following list of B.C. recreational properties priced at less than $60,000 are courtesy of LandQuest.

  • Three-acre lakefront parcel on Burns Lake in north central B.C., near Tweedsmuir National Park, is only accessible by boat or air. Price is $32,900.
  • Just over five acresnear lakes and the town of Fort St. James in northeast B.C, with power and phone to the lot line, and all-season road access. Price is $39,500.
  • 6.8 acres on Francois Lakein the high Cariboo. The power is in to the lot line and there is nearby resort with a restaurant, store and boat launch. Price is $41,000.
  • Five acres with a small cabin a short walk from Francois Lake has power and easy access. Price is $52,000.


Gulf Islands

After a near-decade slump, prices are slowly recovering in the Gulf Island archipelago between the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. The average recreational property sale price this year is $222,624, up just 4 per cent from 2014. In the first five months of this year, 48 parcels have sold on the Islands, with an average lot size of 3.5 acres.

“The lots on Sidney Island remain the best value in the Gulf Islands in my opinion,’ said Richard Osborne, LandQuest president. “We have sold 17 lots since 2015 but there are still a few really good deals left.”

These include strata-titled oceanfront properties from $199,000 to $390,000. A new breakwater and community dock being built this summer will add value to the island community, just off the southern tip of Vancouver Island.

The other B.C. oceanfront parcels for less than the price of a Vancouver bachelor suite include on Haida Gwaii, where $139,000 will buy 6.8 acres, with sandy beach on the Pacific Ocean; and north of Tofino on the western edge of Vancouver Island, where 2.7 acres of oceanfront in Hot Springs Cove is listed at $79,000.


If you want the biggest bang for your cottage buck on the Parries, land-of-a-thousand-lakes Manitoba may be your best bet.

The average price of a Manitoba lakefront cottage is $238,600, flat from a year ago, and the lowest of any province west of the Atlantic, according to Royal LePage. Prime riverside and inland cottages located an hour northeast of Winnipeg on the west shore of the Winnipeg River are selling for an average of $340,000 and $200,000, respectively.


According to the 2017 Royal LePage Canadian Recreational Housing Report, the average price of a recreational lakefront property in Saskatchewan is $297,200, unchanged from a year ago.

Cottage prices in the popular Christopher Lake, Emma Lake and Candle Lake regions are the exception, rising slightly due to limited supply and sustained demand. Lakefront cottages in these three areas are fetching an average of $600,000.

 “Prices have levelled off to a more interesting point for buyers,” one real estate agent explained.

Frank O'Brien is the editor of Western Canada's biggest commercial real estate newspaper, Western Investor, as well as a contributing editor at West Coast Condominium, real estate contributor to Business in Vancouver and a regular media commentator on real estate investment.
Geoff has been a contributor to Western Investor for 15 years. He is also a senior business reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, covering real estate and financial services. Geoff plays competitive tennis at a national level in the senior ranks and is an amateur boxer and hockey player. His favourite Star Wars character is Yoda.
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