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.’’

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