March 2020 Feature By Diane H. Wong

Planet Earth has an area of over 510 million square kilometres, 71% of which is covered by water. In other words, the land area that can be inhabited by man is reduced to just over 149 million square kilometres. Likewise, in a little more than 200 years, the world's population has grown from 1 billion people in 1800 to 6 billion in 2000. A decade later, it had increased to 7 billion. According to the growth rate, some studies estimate that, in 2050, the world population could exceed 11.4 billion and 15.3 billion in 2100. The rise in the price of housing, both for rent and for purchase, make it difficult to enter a traditional home. Given this panorama, can houseboats gain followers? Will the day come when waterfront housing districts are built on the Manzanares River itself? The idea of a home on the water is not as crazy as it seems.

The Houseboat Communities

There are several houseboat communities around the globe. One of the most important by number of houses is located in the city of Amsterdam (Netherlands), with more than 2,500 boats distributed in its 100 kilometers of channels. This curious form of accommodation arose after the Second World War. The modernization of the Dutch fleet brought with it the disablement of many ships which had to be put to a new use, and this, together with the shortage of traditional homes, led to the birth of this form of housing. Today, it is so widespread in the country that there is not a single free space for mooring. Those who want to establish themselves in the water must buy one of the boats already at anchor. Also Sausalito, a small town located just in front of San Francisco (California, USA), on the other side of the mythical Golden Gate, is known for its community with more than 400 floating houses. It was also during the 2nd World War that this type of construction was born, in which the shipyard's employees were housed. When the war ended, the workers left and were occupied by hippies who created a collaborative community. Today, most of them have mansion status and can reach a million dollars.

Sustainability and Design

Far from the modest boats on which the fishermen spent the night during their voyages on the high seas. Sustainability, ecological materials and all the details define the new floating houses. In 2015, the Portuguese company Friday, with more than 30 years of experience in the development of naval engineering projects, decided to launch the manufacture of floating houses. This is how its FloatWing was born. It is a platform with a fixed width of six meters and five different lengths ranging from 10 to 18 meters, which allows different possibilities depending on the desired use. From a cosy studio to a fully-furnished three-room house, always built with low environmental impact technologies and sustainable materials. In addition, its modular design makes it easy to store it in two containers and take it almost anywhere in the world.

Five levels can be set for each size: zero, with no interior spaces, so it only works as a pleasure boat; one, two and three (ready to live as long as they are moored in a marina); and four, totally independent (thanks to its two 25-horsepower engines it can reach a speed of five kilometres per hour) and energetically self-sufficient for seven days. Among other extras, it includes a fully equipped kitchen; wine cellar; barbecue on the upper terrace to enjoy sunny days and a fireplace where you can snuggle up in front of the fire on cold nights. The price varies from one model to another, but it starts at 70,000 euros and can reach 260,000 euros.

Boat Rent

For those who prefer to enjoy the floating houses for seasons and continue living with their feet on the ground in a traditional home, the rental business has also reached this sector. Book a Houseboat is the world's first houseboat rental community. The service functions as the [traditional] Airbnb holiday rental platform. From India to The Bahamas, passing through Canada, Germany or Finland, its catalogue includes 277 boats (with prices between 55 and 1,604 euros per night, depending on their characteristics and dimensions) around the world, with Amsterdam being the most popular destination, with 107 accommodations. "Enjoying a holiday on a houseboat is like nothing you have ever done before," they explain on the website. You know, choose a house and come on board.

About the author: Diane H. Wong is copywriter at DoMyWriting. Besides, she is a professional nutritionist. So she is going to start writing her own blog. It can help her share her knowledge with others.

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