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More Opting for Lakeside Living

Relaxing in a Muskoka chair, glass of wine in hand, overlooking an expansive sand beach and listening to the soft lapping of waves on the shore, as the sun, shrouded in a cloak of pink and gold, sinks into the lake. This might well be the perfect definition of stress-free living. It’s certainly a lifestyle that’s drawing Ontarians in droves to lakeside communities, a trend that has ramped up significantly in the recent months of the COVID pandemic with its international travel restrictions.

Studies show that interaction with nature can reduce hypertension and improve memory and dementia.

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Port Stanley is the closest beach town to London and Wastell’s Kokomo Beach Club development will offer the serenity of living within walking distance of Lake Erie to hundreds as it continues to be built out.

There has long been a trend of people, often baby boomers approaching retirement, looking for homes on the lake, says Bayfield-based real estate broker Brian Coombs, who’s been selling properties along Lake Huron for more than two decades. “But,” he says, “since COVID hit, a year ago, the demand for waterfront living has increased dramatically. There’s more urgency to escape the city; 2020 was a whirlwind year for real estate.”

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Being able to host family and friends and provide them with access to the benefits of lakeside living is one of the attractions of cottage life.

It has been an equally busy year, with sales going strong into 2021, at Kokomo Beach Club, says marketing specialist Jessica de Lange of the resort community in the Lake Erie village of Port Stanley, developed by London’s Wastell Homes. “Many people are looking for cottages to rent or buy, just because of what’s happening (with the pandemic),” she says. “They’re looking for second homes or vacation homes with a slower pace of life in a quieter town.”

Coombs and de Lange agree that a slower paced lifestyle is a major attraction. “There’s a relaxed, chilled feel,” Coombs says. “We have beautiful sunsets, scenic beaches and walking trails, an active outdoor life.” The variety of water-based activities for an active lifestyle is a magnet, he adds. “Sailing is a big thing here, and there are a lot of power boats, lots of water sports, lots of fishing.” But beaches and proximity to the water clinch it, he believes. “Being close to the water just gives you a soothing feeling,” he says.

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Kokomo Beach Club will include clubhouse and green space amenities set against the backdrop of Port Stanley’s eclectic retail environment, theatre and golf course.

It is a fact borne out by scientific research and studies, showing that interaction with nature can reduce hypertension and improve memory and dementia. In his 2014 book, Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected, and better at what you do, marine biologist, Wallace J. Nichols, confirms evidence that being close to bodies of water promotes mental health and happiness.

The lake is the big drawing card for Kokomo residents, de Lange says, noting sales representatives for the community report that anecdotally most buyers are attracted to the beach and the slower lifestyle.

Although Kokomo Beach Club is not right on the lake but is located a few blocks from the village’s Blue Flag certified Main Beach. This certification signals its good water quality and safety. The community is also within easy walking distance to the quieter Erie Rest shoreline, just west of the main beach.

While beach life may top other water activities, the village boasts several bustling marinas for those who pursue life aboard their vessel as a summer escape.

According to Coombs and de Lange another attraction of waterfront communities is the town amenities. Port Stanley and the Lake Huron communities, from Grand Bend to Tobermory, offer an array of eclectic shops, eateries ranging from casual to fine dining and pursuits from golf to theatre. “It’s really a holistic, well-rounded destination with plenty of options for recreation and things to do,” de Lange says of Port Stanley.

In some ways, there’s a symbiotic relationship developing, as the character of the communities attract residents who, in turn, grow the options. Coombs is seeing a trend to more year-round living as opposed to vacationing. “Living along the lake is more vibrant in the off-season than it used to be as more people are moving in,” he says. “There’s more things to do and restaurants and shops are staying open where they would once have closed up from Christmastime to mid-April.”

Kokoma is also catering to this year-round lifestyle, with a residentsonly clubhouse, parklands, a walking trail around the community perimeter and even a maintenance package to provide lawn care, snow removal and property supervision when owners are away.“We want to create the vibe of a carefree, stress-free and very casual and calm lifestyle,” de Lange says.