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 Cottages: a place for family, friends -- and retirement

               Canada NewsWire

                 ROYAL BANK OF CANADA

Attention Business/News Editors:

    Emotional attachment key as growing number of Canadians look to
    secondary residences as best way of getting away from it all

    TORONTO, March 16 /CNW/ - Cottages may be in disrepair and a long car
ride away, but cottage owners wouldn't sell their properties even if they had
to move to another province or country, a new study of secondary residences
shows. And for some, ``home away from home'' may become their only address, as
more and more opt for a place near a lake over big city life in retirement.
    These are some of the findings from a Royal Bank study of secondary
residences -- cottages, timeshares, cabins or a second home lived in at least
one week a year. Dispelling the myth that cottages are merely places for
solitary weekend escapes passed down from generation to generation, the study
shows that most cottage owners know their neighbours by name and feel like
they are part of the local community. Also, only six per cent of those
surveyed say they inherited their properties.
    And just how attached are people to their secondary residences? Most
wouldn't sell them even if they were forced to move. Many consider their
cottage the place they most truly feel at home and more than eight in 10 would
choose the same place if they had to make the choice all over again.
Statistics Canada, meanwhile, recently reported major growth in retirement and
rural communities, particularly north of Toronto and Montreal, and in B.C.'s
Okanagan Valley.
    ``Owning a secondary residence is a conscious choice Canadians make,
rather than an accident of inheritance,'' says Christian Findlay,
vice-president of residential mortgages at Royal Bank. ``They are places of
refuge, repose and for some, retirement. They are as much about getting close
to nature as they are about getting together with family and friends.''

    Secondary residences: a strong emotional attachment

    ``The research available on second residences is scarce,'' Findlay says.
``This study represents some groundbreaking results, especially with respect
to the emotional attachment that Canadians have for their cottages, and other
types of secondary residences.''

    -  Owners have a greater attachment to their secondary residence than
       their primary residence. Three in five (60%) say ``no matter where I
       spend the most time I feel most at home in my secondary residence.''

    -  63% of owners say even if they had to move to another province they
       would not sell their secondary property.

    -  Retirement dream: 40% plan to retire at their secondary residence.

    -  86% know their neighbours and 71% feel like part of the community.

    -  Renovation boom expected: 56% of the owners have not significantly
       renovated their secondary residences. But 29% of owners plan on
       upgrading their secondary residences during the next three years.
       Decks top the list of renovation projects.

    -  66% bought their secondary residence; only six per cent inherited
       them.

    -  15% of those who currently do not own a secondary residence say they
       are either very or somewhat likely to purchase a secondary residence
       during the next 5 years. According to Statistics Canada, just under
       seven per cent of Canadians report owning a vacation home.

    Royal Bank's Canadian Home Ownership Survey was conducted for the bank by
the Angus Reid Group. More than 1,200 adult Canadians -- including 200 owners
of secondary residences -- were interviewed between December 11 and 28, 1998.
Survey results have a margin of error of +/-2.8 percentage points, 19 times
out of 20.