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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.
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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 amount 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 live-aboard slots at Heather Civ. Ah, the open sea—the last real estate frontier.