The phenomenon of those who choose to use the boat as their first home in cities is growing rapidly in the world. Almost unknown in Italy, that’s why it can be a convenient choice.
Susan Smillie is one of over 10,000 inhabitants working in London living along the banks of the Thames, on a 15-metre boat. It has a stable berth a stone’s throw from the mythical three-masted Cutty Sark in the Greenwich area. “In London” says Susan “I came from Brighton ten years ago. I had found work, but I was terrified by the cost of the houses. So, I said to myself, while I was walking along the banks of the Thames where dozens of boats were moored: why can’t my house be my boat?”.
Today he lives with his partner in his motorsailer. She managed to have a stable berth, with water, electricity and wifi, for 4,000 pounds (4,600 euros) per year at the municipal rate. Every morning he reaches his place of work by public transport and in the evening he makes the reverse journey returning home, his boat. In summer he takes his boat, goes up the Thames and heads to the French coast where he has three weeks of vacation. Every year his boat stops being a house and returns one to be a cruise boat.
This is just one of hundreds of thousands of cases in the world where a boat turns into a “first home”. And the administrations of cities that are bathed by the sea or navigable canals have long been aware of this. Take a tour along the banks of the United States in New York, San Francisco, Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego. In Australia the phenomenon of boat / home has been a reality for decades in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne. In Europe, the lion’s share is played by Amsterdam, but in the new marinas of Athens there are now dozens of residents who have chosen the solution boat / home. The phenomenon is also growing in southern France: Antibes, Marseille, Monaco.
The common denominator of this fast-growing phenomenon obviously starts from a passion for the boat object and everything it implies, but it also has economic reasons. Nothing to do with life stories outside the box, such as those that led in the ’60s characters like the musician David Gilmour of Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart, the artist Damien Hirst to live in London on board boats moored on the Thames, giving up expensive houses, which certainly could have afforded.
And in Italy? The phenomenon is still in its infancy. In Genoa, in the very central area of Porto Antico, some of the boat’s supporters are beginning to see themselves as their first home. But there are many cities with ports in the heart of the city that lend themselves to this dual use. Just think of Naples with its moorings in the heart of the city, La Spezia, Trieste, Venice, Bari, Ancona. Just to name a few. Italy has dozens of cities overlooking the sea with landings in the city.
TODAY’S BOATS ARE REAL HOUSES
A great help to the success of this choice to live on the water has been given by the new generation of boats. The use of the interior spaces means that there are two or three cabins, two bathrooms and a living area that houses a kitchen area and a convivial space that can accommodate seating for a dozen people. The cockpit with the appropriate shelters (bimini, spayhood) and the bow sunbathing area are comparable to a real home terrace. Do you want to put with a one-bedroom apartment of about sixty square meters?
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THE COSTS?
It’s not a question of comparing this with a house in the city and then a boat for the holidays. Here the choice is to make your own boat the first home as well as being the traditional means by which you make the holidays. So, just one “roof” is enough and not two. For a 12/14 meters the annual cost of maintaining the boat / house, which includes mooring, insurance, maintenance, is around a minimum of 5,000 to a maximum of 15,000 euros.
If it comes to buying the boat, prices vary for a new boat from 200 to 400,000 euros. With a lease for a 300,000 euro boat with 83 installments (7 years including final redemption of 1%) and an advance of the
30% (90,000 euro) are monthly rentals of 2,200 euro. For the purchase of second-hand boats of the same size the purchase costs are at least half and if you already own the boat, forget the purchase costs we just mentioned.
Perhaps the hundreds of thousands of people around the world who have decided to make the boat their first home in the city and their holiday home have made a choice that is not at all stupid, and not trivial. What do you think?