Very often Amsterdam is called ‘Venice of the North’. Among the others, it’s because of the breathtaking canal network spreading all over the city. It’s common for people, who want to get a different view of the city, to look for an original spot to stay at while visiting Amsterdam. Why not try a houseboat? What is the cost of such a decision?
Houseboat rental prices in the Netherlands vary from 100 to even 1,500 Euro per day. Purchase prices depend on how old the boat is. A used houseboat costs between 45,000 – 230,000 Euro and a new one from 175,000 to 1 million Euro.
The price is strongly dependent on how old the boat is and what standard it has to offer. Before you decide to aboard, you should consider the pros and cons of such a lifestyle. Would you like it? Are there any hidden fees? I hope this article will resolve your doubts.
How Much is a Houseboat Rental / Purchase?
If you want to move to Amsterdam for a while, renting a houseboat might be an extremely interesting option. There is a huge selection of long-term houseboat rentals. I think this exotic way of living for a couple of weeks or months can be a life-changing experience for anyone thriving on challenges. If you decide to spend some time on the water, start with a clear budget in mind though.
Prices of houseboat rentals vary. They are mostly dependent on standard, size and the spot a boat is moored at. A nice-looking houseboat for 4-6 people might be as cheap as 100 Euro per day. However, the price can skyrocket to 1,500 Euro per day if a boat is new, modern and luxurious. A good thing is that weekly / monthly cost of living on a boat is cheaper than on land in the long term. This is why even if it seems to be insanely expensive to rent a modern boat for a week, it sounds reasonable to stay there for a year or longer.
What About Purchasing a Houseboat?
The cost of a houseboat varies, just as it does with houses on the land. If you aim at a brand-new houseboat with a high level of standard, you should be prepared to spend between 175,000 – even 1 million Euro. You can also get a used boat and this will cost you between 45,000 and 230,000 Euro. In the city center, it’s almost impossible to find anything below 200,000 Euro. Besides location, the state plays a huge role. By state I mean how old the boat is, does the price includes all amenities or not, etc. Don’t forget that the cost of the purchase is just the beginning. There are many hidden costs you might not be aware of. These are, among the others: insurance, registration fees, maintenance (estimated at 1,000 – 3,000 Euro a year) and equipment, safety courses fees, etc. There are also dock fees, fuel and oil costs and many others. Depending on the size on the boat, there is a monthly mooring cost. It’s about 200 Euro (it includes water taxes).
It’s worth mentioning that currently there are no permits released for people who’d like to park their boats in the city. What does it mean? The only option is to buy a houseboat with the existing parking permit (it’s called ‘ligplaats’ – in short, it entitles an owner to moor their boat in a certain spot).
Where to Find a Houseboat in Amsterdam
Let’s start with the location of a houseboat. Obviously, it mainly depends on your preferences – Amsterdam’s houseboats can be spotted at almost all canals and harbours in the city. The city center is the most popular but at the same time, it’s the most expensive location. Personally, I would rather choose a quieter neighbourhood like Eastern or Western Docks.
Where to Rent a Houseboat
There are numerous places to rent one of approximately 100 houseboats in Amsterdam. I think nowadays the best option is to book a boat online via one of the rental services. First of all, there’s a reliable Hotels.com with hundreds of houseboats listed. You can also try the House-Boat Hotel website. It offers a selection of houseboats for both small and large groups of people. You can even book a boat for 2 there. The page is local but it’s very popular. It only has a few houseboats listed, to be honest. However, houseboats they offer are considered to be one of the classiest houseboats in the whole city. Another option is booking.com
Where to Buy a Houseboat
Just as in case of rental, there are many websites offering houseboats for sale. Most of them offer various filtering options so that you can find the one that best suits your own preferences. There are some exemplary websites, you can consider offers from: www.yachtall.com and www.boatshop24.com . Both have many boats moored in Amsterdam for sale, at various prices.
According to some rough estimations, there are approximately 2,500 houseboats in Amsterdam. Most of them are actually moored in the very center of the city, anchored along the canals. Some of the boats are easily available for tourists to rent. Most of the houseboats are between 14 and 30 meters long and 2.5 – 5 meters wide. For a foreigner, it might seem to be a bit strange that some of Amsterdam’s houseboat have normal addresses just like typical houses. However, it makes perfect sense as those with an address are anchored to the very same place for many years.
Why So Many Houseboats in Amsterdam?
Many houseboats are more than 100 years old – those are still the old ships used to transport goods. Once they stopped being used as a mean of transport, they became houses to their owners and their families. What’s more, in the past, houseboats were just a replacement for houses due to the city housing shortage. The demand for housing was the highest between 1960 and 1970, then so-called ‘woonark’ (literally means ‘a house ark’) were built. Living on a ‘woonark’ was much cheaper then and another plus is that owners could place them almost anywhere they wanted. They weren’t very comfortable at first but the old boats were quickly refurbished with the sole purpose of housing. The electricity, cables, etc. were connected and now most of them don’t have an engine anymore. Since 2005 all houseboats have had to be connected to the city sewage. Nowadays, the shortage is not an issue anymore and one can say that houseboats are definitely in high demand in the Netherlands. This is why while wandering in the city, around canals especially, you will see numerous luxuriously furnished houseboats for sale. Most of them offer a very high level of comfort. There is a floor heating, a spacious bathroom and a modern kitchen. Some of them are even built multiple floors and they have gardens and terraces.
Pros & Cons of Living on a Houseboat
Living on a houseboat has its pluses and minuses. Check the table below to compare those and decide, if it’s an option for you:
|Almost unlimited access to the bay/harbor you reside at – can it be anything better than such a picturesque view every day?
|In case of a short-term rental the cost is quite high, especially during high season
|‘Holiday’ activities like fishing, boating, and tubing close at hand every day
|You have to adjust to the homeowners’ association’s rules (especially if you own a houseboat, you are a part of community)
|A houseboat is usually much bigger than a hotel room
|Extra fees to cover in case a boat is yours – insurance, taxes, maintenance, etc.
|Great accommodation for 4 – 6 people like a family or a group of friends – it’s like having a large hotel suite’
|It’s not easy to rent a houseboat as many of them are booked long ahead
|A chance to cook for yourself in a fully equipped kitchen – a cheap option for those who are on a budget
|Might be noisy sometimes – all the time you’ll hear water lapping against the boat. It might be irritating
|The general cost of living is lower when compared to renting a property (assuming that it’s a long-term rental). Technically, there is a little maintenance cost. Sometimes, you don’t even have to pay taxes (it depends on the municipality though)
|Older houseboats might be a bit fusty
|Close to nature – swans, ducks, etc.
Sleeping on the canals might be an unforgettable experience for people spending a short holiday in Amsterdam, as well as people who want to spend a couple of months here. Currently, houseboats available for rent offer as much comfort as typical houses. Gorgeous views guaranteed, comfort and convenience close at hand, the gentle motion of the water at night – spending time on the boat is like no other. Are you ready for your houseboat adventure then? I bet you do!