A Toronto family sold their downtown semi for $1.45 million and moved full time to their cottage in Ridgeway

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Who: Jelena Nero, 40, claims manager at an insurance company; Tony Nero, 44, mortgage fund manager; with their kids Amelia, 10 and Luca, 8.

The history: In 2007, Tony and Jelena bought a four-bed, two-bath Victorian semi at Queen and Dufferin for $470,000.

After getting married in 2009, the couple eventually had two kids, Amelia and Luca. During holidays and summers, the Neros would often visit Tony’s family in Niagara Falls.

The Neros enjoyed escaping the city to bike Niagara region’s trails and canoe on the Niagara River. So in April 2016, they decided to search for a cottage in the area.

One month later, they came across a five-bed, two-bath cottage in Ridgeway, a tiny town located a 20-minute drive south of Niagara Falls and less than two hours from Toronto.

Sited on a secluded nearly two-acre lot right on Lake Erie, the cottage had a Cape Cod–style façade with a gabled roof and white wood exterior. The property came with a front-facing lake view and a beautiful sandy beach. Inside, the cottage had 2,900 square feet of living space spanning three storeys.

In May 2016, the Neros bought the place for $460,000, considerably cheaper than similar-sized cottages in Muskoka. However, the century-old property required extensive renovations. Over the next year, the Neros installed a new roof and vinyl siding, and replaced the septic system and HVAC. They also added a garage and a pool.

The move: The Neros spent the next four years enjoying relaxing holidays and summer weekends at their Ridgeway cottage. The kids would paddleboard in the lake while Tony and Jelena lounged on the beach.

The family also frequently made the drive to Niagara Falls to enjoy its restaurants and shops, or crossed the border at the Peace Bridge to attend Bills games in Buffalo.

In early 2020, the Neros were at the cottage for March Break when the government announced the Covid-19 shutdown. Instead of returning home, the Neros opted to remain at their cottage and wait things out.

As the shutdown dragged on into April, Tony and Jelena started working remotely from the cottage, and the kids began online schooling. The transition to rural life was more seamless than expected.

Without a work commute, Tony and Jelena could spend more time with their kids. At the end of the day, taking advantage of the extra time together, Tony played ball hockey and soccer with Luca, or the entire family would take a long stroll down the beach.