Amsterdam’s canals are home to some 2500 houseboats. Charming as it may be to live on or rent a houseboat in the Amsterdam canal, it is certainly not cheap. In the old days living on a houseboat meant you were poor, nowadays Amsterdam houseboats are extremely popular and only for the happy few with money. They are very expensive because of the limited number of moorings

After the second world war, these old transport vessels became the answer for the housing shortage in Amsterdam. Living on a boat might have been uncomfortable, it was still cheap and you’d at least have an detached house which you could place anywhere you liked.
The ships were used to transport goods while the owner and his family lived in the small quarters below deck. After retirement, the ship owner would moor the ship and continue living on it. Living on the ship was no luxury though. The ceilings were low, the air moist, the living quarters small and electricity would have to come from the ship itself by burning wood, oil or gas.

In the sixties and seventies the more modern arks arrived. The amount of colourful houseboats rose sharply. Houseboat which is designed solely for housing purposes. Arks are built on square hulls, the earlier out of steel, nowadays mostly out of concrete. The concrete variety is almost maintenance free whereas all other houseboats have to be taken out of the water regularly for inspection and treatment against rust.

An old cargoship where the cargo bay is refurbished to provide an addition to the (too) small captains quarters in the back of the ship. The vast majority of these ships were built in the first quarter of 20th century, mostly out of steel or iron.

Almost all the houseboats are connected to the city’s services, such as running water, electricity, telephone,cable-tv and since 2005 all houseboats are obligated to connect to the city sewage.

You can stay in a houseboat rental for short or long time and there is even one housing a cat sanctuary – home to 100 displaced moggies!

Interior is small but cozy

Map of houseboats in Amsterdam

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