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Houseboats of Amsterdam

Posted on Aug 12, 2015 by

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Did you know there are around 2500 houseboats in Amsterdam? They fascinate me and I love everything about them, especially the little details and the beautiful decorations.

When the living space is not enough, you can always turn to alternatives – in Amsterdam’s case, the water. The canal network being so extensive, it’s no wonder Amsterdammers saw the potential in transforming it in residential area. Entering the houseboats: houses anchored along the canals, connected to all the amenities and offering almost the same conditions as a regular house does.

History of the houseboats

The original houseboats were the boats used for shipping the goods, where a family would live in a small cabin below deck. Living on a houseboat became a cheap solution for Amsterdam’s inhabitants in the 1960s and 1970s, because of the housing shortage, and it continued until today, although nowadays living on a houseboat is not cheap anymore. Modern houseboats and luxury ones (completed with terraces and gardens) are moored along the canals, usually built on a platform.

To live on a houseboat in Amsterdam today, you would need a special licence and you need to submit your house to regular checks every few years.

The romantic appeal of the houseboats

Living in a houseboat might not be everyone’s cup of tea. The (more or less) subtle swing of the house, the colder rooms in winter, the specific issues that this type of house might bring, could convince certain people to choose the typical housing solution. However, almost everyone would agree that life on a houseboat has a definite charm and a special feel to it.

Watching the swans floating by your window, the cosiness, and the idea of owning a house that you can move around — all these sound very romantic. There are many houseboat hotels in Amsterdam, where you can experience the water life for a couple of days.

Visiting a houseboat

The Houseboat Museum, on Prinsengracht 296, is a great place to experience how life in such a home is. “Hendrika Maria”, a former cargo ship built in 1914, was transformed into a cosy living space and is open to curious visitors.

In my walks along the canals, I always like to take the time to admire the boats —  it’s a great way to relax!

Do you want to try it for a moment?

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