Now, if you want to live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, you’re going to have a heck of a time finding an apartment in the first place. If you do find one, chances are pretty good you’re going to be paying through the nose. Real estate is the ultimate commodity in New York, and it costs.
Unless you’re willing to live on a houseboat.
The 79th Street Boat Basin is a set of public docks on the banks of the Hudson River. It’s located off the Riverside Park promenade, and it’s only three blocks away from Broadway. In terms of location, it’s nearly ideal.
The Basin has been home to more than 100 boats at a time. There have been schooners, trawlers, yachts and – of course – houseboats. Some of the boats are transient, but others have yearly permits and the owners seem to have formed quite a community.
And a diverse community it is. There have been millionaires living in houseboats at the Basin, and there have been divorced men who walked away with only their boat. Plenty of celebrities have spent time on these docks, as well. Aristotle Onassis parked his yacht in the Basin, and so did Frank Sinatra and Malcolm Forbes.
Still, living on a houseboat isn’t all fun and games. While the Basin hasn’t seen any major fires in its nearly 80 years of existence, plenty of other mishaps have occurred. Back in 2005, ice floes caused nearly half a million dollars in damage to dock infrastructure. During winter, people can slip when the piers become icy. Wandering pets have been known to drop off into the chilly winter water.
The bad news for folks hoping to get a low-cost place to live in Manhattan is that the Parks Department has been trying, over the past 15 years, to reduce the full time population. They stopped issuing full year docking permits at that time. Then, there were 116 permanent ships on the docks, and today there are 43.
Residents have complained, however, and the Parks Department has agreed to issue new annual permits, but only a few each year. This allows new residents to enter the community, while still leaving a good portion of the docks for short-term rentals, which are much more profitable for the parks department.
If you do manage to become the latest addition to this unique community, make sure you talk to your boat insurance agent. Boat insurance works differently when the boat is your primary residence, so you’ll want to make sure you have the right coverage.
Photo via NJScott