About Peterborough and The Kawarthas

Peterborough and the Kawarthas Real Estate Guide

Peterborough & the Kawarthas has long been a Canadian favourite destination for cottagers and those looking for a quieter life all year long. It’s made up of two main areas, the City of Peterborough in Victory county and The City of Kawartha Lakes – which is comprised of several small neighbouring towns, hamlets and villages that amalgamated under one municipality in 2001. Kawarthas real estate opportunities abound. 

With a large number of seasonal residents, this area heats up in the summer, without the gruelling traffic woes of the trek up the 400. The region boasts a vibrant experience for visitors and year-round residents, with exceptional accommodations, foodie experiences, festivals, beaches and attractions as other popular regions like PEC, with a bit less fanfare. This is a destination that, in some regards, flies under the radar…in a good way.

The City of Peterborough is the largest urban area in the Kawartha’s region. This city, though small in size packs a big punch with a thriving live music scene and bustling arts community. This is likely due, in part, to the presence of both Flemming College and Trent University. Peterborough often appears on Canada’s Best Places to Live lists, and it noted to be one of the best places to retire in Canada. But it just one part of the Kawarthas region. 

There are also smaller communities of The City of Kawartha Lakes, each with its own charm. Don’t let the term town or hamlet fool you into thinking this area is too quiet. Kawartha Lakes has a growing population of more than 75,000 residents along with 31,000 seasonal transplants. All told, more More than 1.45 million residents live within a one-hour drive of Kawartha Lakes. And during the summer months, an additional 1.6 million people visit annually. This is particularly good news for those looking to buy and rent Kawarthas real estate. 

Of course, you can’t talk about The Kawarthas without mentioning the beautiful waterways that lace the region together. Known as “The Land of Shining Waters”, The Kawartha Lakes are a series of interconnected series of lakes of various sizes. They range from 2 to 83 km2 and include Katchewanooka, Clear, Stony, Lovesick, Lower Buckhorn, Buckhorn, Chemong (including Upper Chemong), Pigeon, Little Bald, Big Bald, Sturgeon, Cameron, Scugog and Balsam. They drain through the Otonabee and Trent rivers to Lake Ontario. On the west side, Balsam Lake also drains into Lake Simcoe. 

These bodies of water are part of the Trent-Severn Waterway, managed by Parks Canada. This 386 km route of interconnected rivers, lakes, locks and canals, which makes for some of the best boating in all of Canada. Five of the locks in this waterway are in Kawartha Lakes; including the largest lift lock in the world, in Peterborough. Not only is this an essential part of the history of the area, but it also draws tourists from around the world. 

Getting there is an easy 90-minute drive from Toronto or 2.5-hour drive from Ottawa, much of which can take place over regional highways. For those who opt for the scenic route, the stunning countryside views and laid back pace do not disappoint.  

Related: How to Buy a Cottage in Ontario


The Real Estate Scoop

Kawarthas Real Estate

People buy homes, condos, waterfronts, farms investments and commercial properties in the area. For 2019, our average days on the market is about 40. Average sale prices are around $450,000. That being said, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find "an amazing deal" these days. The best times to sell are April to September when all eyes are on the area, and people are coming from the GTA and falling in love. But the market generally stays active all year, with few cottages listed after October until March. 

Kawarthas Real Estate Opportunities

Looking for more affordable ways to purchase waterfront? Here, being on a river, inlet or island can save you a lot of money. Also, buying an original basic cottage can get you in the game for less, and you can renovate or re-build later. We see cottages with inferior waterfronts or original cottages starting around the $400,000 mark. To get something with a good swimmable frontage, you're probably looking in the $600s to start.

Kawarthas Real Estate for Investors

Those looking to Airbnb are in luck. Currently, we don't have any rules against short term rentals, making them a popular choice for investors both in cottage country and in town. With few typical Bed and Breakfasts and no boutique hotels in the area, Airbnbs are a great alternative. Some full-time Airbnb properties have a reputation for being noisy. This has sparked frustration with neighbours, prompting them to fight with townships for tighter rules, though nothing has come of this yet. Cottage rentals during the summer start at $1500/week for a basic smaller cottage with maybe inferior waterfront or water access only upwards of $4000+ a week for something larger and with good waterfront. 

In terms of student rentals, typically investors are looking for at least four bedrooms to rent out, some with as many as six bedrooms. Most student rentals are about $600 per room potentially more if utilities and internet are included. Proximity to schools is a crucial factor. We see most of these homes in the downtown core, primarily serving Trent students. A typical student rental in the downtown core is a 100-year-old brick 2.5 storey with or without a finished 3rd floor. Students from the other schools may still choose to live downtown if they have a vehicle or don't mind the transit system. The city does have bylaws against "rooming" houses, but this has not deterred investors from this student rental model. Typically, investors list student rentals in the earlier part of the year so tenants can be arranged before May when they leave for the summer. 

Kawarthas Real Estate Prices

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
AVERAGE PRICE $276,576 $271,847 $294,601 $345,614 $398,763 $407,406
AVERAGE DAYS ON MARKET 73 67 58 48 32 45
# OF SALES 1,408 1,371 1,633 1,561 1,263 1,071

Peterborough and The Kawarthas Communities


Peterborough is the "Gateway to the Kawarthas." Located on the Otonabee River, this city is one that is hard to characterize, as there is really no other like it. Rich in heritage, steeped in culture, this community is one that has a depth that exceeds what one would expect, given its population. 

Peterborough, with its exceptional healthcare and stellar infrastructure, is oft named one of the best cities for in Canada for retirees. But the draw goes far beyond the ability to check these boxes. The natural beauty is stunning, with the Trent-Severn Waterway passing through the city centre. This includes the Peterborough Lift Lock, the world's largest hydraulic lift lock, which opened in 1904. It is also the world's highest hydraulic lift lock.

Then, there is an eclectic art scene. Peterborough is home to Artpace, one of Canada's oldest artist-run art centers, founded in 1974. There is also Peterborough New Dance and Public Energy, The Peterborough Symphony Orchestra and people come from far and wide to attend the  Peterborough Folk Festival.

The youthful spirit of the community is also bolstered by the three outstanding post-secondary institutions that draw students, academics and faculty members. Trent University, Fleming College and Seneca College's School of Aviation bring over 11,000 students to study in Peterborough & the Kawarthas to study. 

Arts and culture, outdoor recreation, higher education and an exceptional reputation make this community an excellent starting point if you are thinking about buying a property in the Kawarthas region. 

The City of Kawartha Lakes


In 1827, the American Purdys family built a dam on the Scugog River. Soon after a sawmill was built, and a few years later, they added a grist mill. The town became known as Lindsay after a survey assistant was shot in the leg (accidentally) and died from an infection. The name stuck, and the town grew, developing into a lumbering and farming center. The arrival of the Port Hope railway brought a period of growth that set the stage for the area that is now part of the City of Kawartha Lakes. 

The Lindsay we know today features a lovely main street with boutique shopping and excellent dining. It's actually one of the widest downtown streets in Ontario. The reason? It was made to be wide enough to accommodate the turning radius of a four-horse hitch. Another fun fact is scenes from the movie "A Christmas Story" were filmed here. This comes as no surprise, considering the long history of performing arts here. The Academy Theatre has been presenting a wide variety of productions –from professional to community – for more than 100 years. 

The combination of rich history and contemporary flavour make Lindsay such a leading destination for seasonal visitors, and for those seeking a small town to settle into all year long. 


Made more widely famous by the Tragically Hip song of the same name, Bobcaygeon has always been a popular tourist spot in this region. It's located between scenic Sturgeon and Pigeon lakes, offering cottagers, boaters, residents and tourists excellent access to water activities. And it's the perfect spot to enjoy some time on dry land.

Whether you drive in, arrive by boat, or choose this town to settle into a second property, you'll enjoy the varied shopping, foodie and cultural offering you find here. A visit to the world-renowned Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream, and a shop at Bigley's Shoes and Clothing are musts. 

You'll also find the first lock to be constructed on the Trent Severn Waterway here. Lock 32 is the most visited lock on this historic waterway. Then there's the public beach, friendly harbour and docking and excellent access to waterfront properties. You'll also find lovely lakefront properties in the neighbouring towns of Dunsford and Downeyville.  And if you're the type who can't get enough time at the cottage, stretch your summer until the leaves change. Visit the Bobcaygeon Fall Fair, traditionally held the last week of September.

Fenelon Falls

The sparkling waters of Cameron Lake undoubtedly played a role in Fenelon Falls becoming known as the "Jewel of the Kawarthas." The natural beauty here cannot be overstated. From the gorge to the waterways and waterfalls, Fenelon Falls does not disappoint. When you add to this the warm and welcoming community, there is no doubt that this area needs to be on your list of must-see spots in the region. 

With the perfect mix of shop and restaurants, from small quirky boutiques and gift shops to large chain grocery stores, you'll find everything you need. This year marks the beginning of the main street revitalization of the area which will draw even more people to this quaint town.  Here, you also have the opportunity to explore the history and culture of the town. And Lock 34 is here! So you can sit and watch the boats go by, soaking up the serene summer sun.  

You'll find Coboconk on the edge of Balsam Lake. Home to Canada's Fresh Water Summit, the highest elevation of navigable water in Canada (and the third-highest in the world). From the outdoorsy-est pursuits like paddling and camping to culture, heritage, arts and more, this area also makes our list. With Balsam Lake Provincial Park here, the area is an excellent choice for those looking for the ease of an in-town home, but still, want access to the great outdoors. 

Neighbouring communities include Rosedale, where you'll find Lock 35 on the Trent-Severn Waterway, Norland, Burnt River and Kinmount. 


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The Lowdown on Peterborough and The Kawarthas

Your Typical Neighbour

This is a tough one because there is so much to love! One thing is Peterborough is a "school city" having Trent University, Fleming College and Seneca Aviation operating out of our airport. Some folks might not love all the student rentals in the downtown area - but the owners of those properties see those houses as gold mines. Student rentals are an excellent investment in our town and are never a problem to rent. Overall across Peterborough, the vacancy rate is less than 1%. 

The cottage commute is a hot topic, but the cottage commute from the GTA in this direction is usually favourable to that of the 400 route to the Muskokas. Unless there is construction, there are few significant traffic delays - even on a long weekend. 

What We

Peterborough and the Kawarthas is an area where people like to enjoy the outdoors. The best part about the area is the sheer number of waterways nearby. The Trent Severn Waterway allows for miles and miles of boating and is a tourist attraction for sure.

There is a great arts scene, and you can find local art at studio tours and art fairs throughout the year all over the Kawarthas. Peterborough has an excellent food scene too, and craft breweries and other artisan food and drink purveyors are popping up all over the region. There is always an abundance of community events happening throughout the area that consistently draws a great crowd – in summer and all year long.

The Great Trail (formerly known as the Trans Canada Trail) offers a massive system of paved trails for pedestrians, skiing, cycling etc. through this area. One can get from Peterborough to Lakefield, Hastings or Lindsay and anywhere else in between.

This area has a lot of green space due to the environmental protection that comes with waterfront and wetlands. The area has always been coined "the gateway to cottage country," and it truly is. People love the waterfront in the area.

Also, the Canadian Shield crosses through the region just north of Peterborough. The lakes south of the shield offer a shorter commute but are shallower and a bit weedier because of this. The lakes in the shield further north are deeper, less weedy but a bit longer of a commute (but definitely worth the drive).

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