Escape housing shortage, live on a boat
Floating houses could be the offshore solution to Auckland’s property crisis, a man who has lived on a boat for 15 years says.
Mark Thomas has seen a sharp rise in people using boats for permanent accommodation and expected that trend to continue.
The 46-year-old web designer bought his 14-metre boat in 2000 and moored it at Hobsonville Marina in Auckland’s northwest.
He was planning to stay for ‘‘maybe a year’’ but quickly fell in love with the lifestyle and stayed until 2015.
Now he has decided to sell up and get a campervan to travel all over New Zealand.
He was hopeful someone would buy his boat on Trade Me and make it a home for themselves.
While it seemed a novel idea, he said it made financial sense.
His boat had an asking price of $35,000 and renting a berth was about $10,000 per year, which meant it was cheaper than a mortgage, and buyers could sail away at their leisure.
‘‘It’s not necessarily for everybody, but there’s a certain soul and style and freedom of living in a boat,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a lot different to living in a house with four square walls.’’
Thomas is in good company - a spokeswoman for Hobsonville Marina said there were 80 people living aboard boats at the marina.
That number was rising quickly due to Auckland’s skyrocketing house prices, she said.
Thomas said space on the yacht was probably the biggest challenge to get used to.
His boat has two compact bedrooms, two bathrooms, one galley (kitchen), dining area, lounge area, engine room and cockpit.
But he had come from two years living in a tiny flat in London before buying the boat, so the change wasn’t too drastic.
Even families with children could feasibly make do with the space on a boat and he had seen several happy examples at Hobsonville.
The Trade Me ad for his boat, jokingly dubbed ‘cheapest home in Auckland Inc Boat!’, has had more than 6000 views.
There has also been a handful of promising calls from interested buyers.
Most were just curious, he said.
‘‘I think people just find it interesting. It’s a bit of a novelty.
‘‘But more people are looking at housing alternatives, that’s just the way it’s heading.’’