Houseboats in New York City and Beyond

Houseboat in Sausalito, CA / Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Houseboat in Sausalito, CA / Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Growing up in places like Amsterdam, The Hague, Paris and Hamburg, I’ve always had a fascination for Houseboats. Not only can they be incredibly designed homes, but the nomadic side of me appeals to the possibility of easily untethering and floating away to parts unknown.   New York City has one of the highest costs of living in the world.  However, for the approximately 50 households calling a houseboat moored at the 79th Street Boat Basin “home,” the price of a slip costs only $500 per month on average. Just like other New Yorkers, residents pay utility bills, and the city provides sewer services. Prices for the boats themselves vary, depending on size and features – going anywhere from mere tens of thousands of dollars to millions.
Vancouver City Houseboats / Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Vancouver City Houseboats / Image courtesy of pixabay.com

Eco-Friendly Features
No longer landlocked, houseboat dwellers need not be tied to traditional design conventions, either. Houseboat architects have introduced many eco-friendly innovations, employing solar energy and prefab components made from sustainable materials. In Fort Lauderdale, an old airplane has found new life as a houseboat. One Seattle-area houseboat integrates salvaged, century-old cedar floats into its interior finishes.
Image © Jason King/ Flickr

Image © Jason King/ Flickr

Designers create houseboats with flexibility in mind to accommodate changing families, making upsizing and downsizing much easier than moving from a typical 2 to a 3 bedroom home on land. One Prague firm recently unveiled a C-frame catamaran, “Port X,” designed to expand and contract as families evolve.  Port X can also be wired for off-the-grid living.

Luxurious Spaces
Houseboat design can be just as creative as the free spirits who build and live in them.  This creativity encompasses ultimate luxury, as well.  While urbanites of harbor cities like Amsterdam have long traditions of modifying or building boats for residential use, the loft-like De Pijp-area live-in kitchen, recently custom-designed by Crisow von Schulz, bears no resemblance to the basic living many might envision when they think of life on the canal.
Houseboat hotel in Kashmir / Image © Partha S. Sahana / Flickr

Houseboat hotel in Kashmir / Image © Partha S. Sahana / Flickr

The unique charm of houseboats has inspired many to adapt the structures in creative ways venturing beyond their original residential use. Kashmir, India is known for its many luxurious houseboats now run as tourist hotels.The oldest houseboat on the Thames, now owned by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmore, serves as a recording studio.
David Gilmour Houseboat and Recording Studio / Image courtesy of Wikipedia

David Gilmour Houseboat and Recording Studio / Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Houseboat Living, NYC-Style
Those uncertain whether NYC houseboat life is right for them may want to try booking a weekend in a Sheepshead Bay houseboat through Airbnb. This Brooklyn docking area is among the many marinas run by the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Unfortunately, not all of these marinas allow year-round houseboat access. The prime real estate of the West 79th Street Boat Basin has a long waiting list. New project idea for Deblasio perhaps…
A houseboat in Rockaway, Queens / Image courtesy of Remodelista

A houseboat in Rockaway, Queens / Image courtesy of Remodelista

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