To avoid drowning in big-city rental payments, people are living on boats

With rental prices in most cities at all-time highs, a growing number of people are choosing to live in boats to save money.


April 29, 2019

In many of the largest cities in the US, apartment rental prices are enough to leave even high earners underwater.

So, to save money on rent without living too far outside of the city, a growing number of people are choosing to live on houseboats, The New York Times reports.

High rent is forcing people onto the water

Although rental prices hit a record high last year, increasing in 88% of the 250 biggest US cities, people still love cities — and will find creative ways to live in them.

In marinas outside San Francisco, Chicago, and New York City, living on boats can cut costs while keeping people close to the urban action.

One urban mariner in the Bronx paid $10k for the sailboat he lives on, paying an average of $233 per month to keep his boat at a local marina. The average rent for a NYC apartment, in contrast, is more than $3k.

The highs and lows of the life aquatic

In addition to the benefit of saving money on rent, many urban boat buyers enjoy increased access to nature and a surprisingly strong community: Many marinas feature amenities like fire pits and movie screenings.

But urban boating comes with drawbacks, too. Living on a boat can get rocky in inclement weather, and in cities like Chicago and New York, winter can be a big bummer because the pipes that bring water to houseboats are sometimes shut off.

Plus, even though boats might make for sweet house parties in the short term, they don’t make great long-term investments. While houses and apartments often appreciate in value over time, boats depreciate.

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