City In­former

Vancouver Magazine - - News - Stacey McLach­lan by By­ron Eggen­schwiler il­lus­tra­tion by Got aque­s­tion for City In­former? stacey.mclach­lan@van­ Twit­ter: @van­mag_­com

The fis­cal re­al­i­ties of liv­ing on a boat.

Ah, the open sea—the last real es­tate fron­tier.

For a cer­tain type of per­son (Matthew McConaughey, for ex­am­ple), liv­ing on a boat has al­ways been the ul­ti­mate fantasy. But the ap­peal of boat life has ex­panded re­cently to in­clude a cer­tain type of Van­cou­verite, too—one who likes wear­ing shoes and get­ting hair­cuts but who also doesn’t have $2 mil­lion to buy a condo.

Is it ac­tu­ally cheaper to trade your stu­dio apart­ment for the high seas, though? On Ki­jiji, I found a 42-foot alu­minum pon­toon house­boat cur­rently docked in the Shuswap that looks like a pretty sweet deal at $45,000. (It’s cur­rently named La Casa Bella but I would pre­fer some­thing a lit­tle more pun-for­ward, like Mur­der She Boat or Sea Some­thing, Say Some­thing.) No mat­ter the name, I’d be get­ting some bang for my buck: it’s 609 square feet, essen­tially the equiv­a­lent of one and a half Yale­town con­dos.

But with great pon­toon comes great re­spon­si­bil­ity, as the say­ing goes. In­sur­ance ranges from $2,000 to $4,000 an­nu­ally, and in Van­cou­ver, you’re not al­lowed to just drop an­chor any­where—I guess the free­wheel­ing “in­ter­na­tional wa­ters” I’ve heard so much about are just an­other Hall­mark in­ven­tion de­signed to sell greet­ing cards—so you’ll need to pay moor­age fees to dock it some­where. These de­pend on your boat size and lo­ca­tion: my 42-foot imag­i­nary ves­sel would cost me a $2,170 an­nual li­cence fee plus $13.14 monthly per foot ($551.88) at the city-op­er­ated Heather Civic Ma­rina, or six times that amout at the pri­vate Coal Har­bour Ma­rina.

I’m no math whiz, but even af­ter you pay off the boat, rent isn’t ex­actly a killer deal. With low-end in­sur­ance, it works out to about $900 monthly: cheaper than one and a half Yale­town con­dos, sure, but not by much. And then there are the costs of util­i­ties and main­te­nance (be­cause, you know, boat).

But don’t worry: you’ll have plenty of time to save up for the high costs of boat-life. The wait­ing list is years long for one of the 27 non-trans­fer­able live­aboard slots at Heather Civ. Ah, the open sea—the last real es­tate fron­tier.


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