In the Lighter Mood: Buy Boat Instead of Expensive House In San Francisco

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This is Mike and Misa’s home sweet home.

1Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

“I always wanted to live on a boat,” Mike, a project manager at a San Francisco electrical contractor, told Business Insider on a sunny day aboard the boat in the East Bay.

2Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

“Out friends and family thought we were crazy,” Misa said. The couple started looking at boats in 2005, while everyone else was buying real estate at the height of the bubble.

3Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

They figured they could save money living on a boat rather than squandering money on rent or blowing their savings on a house. San Francisco is one of the most expensive housing markets in the US. Between 2005 and 2017, the median sales price rose from $840,000 to $1.5 million.

They got on the waitlist for a live-aboard permit in a Bay Area marina and started shopping.

Mike and Misa looked at over 200 boats between Seattle and Los Angeles before settling on a 58-foot fishing boat designed by a retired Naval architect. It cost about $300,000.

4Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

At 900 square feet, it’s big enough for the couple and their rescue dog, Roxie.

5Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

But Misa still had to majorly downsize. She gave away her furniture and books and rented a storage unit where she keeps her art supplies. Her many plants found a new home aboard.

#6Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

They renovated the boat like they would a house, with new carpets and wood paneling.

7Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

A custom-built cabinet hides the television and gives the living room a cleaner look.

8Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

The kitchen is a little light on storage, so the couple uses magnets to hang their cutlery on the wall. (When they leave the marina for rockier waters, the knives are stowed away.)

9Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

They make most of their dinners using meal-kit delivery services including Blue Apron, Sun Basket, and HelloFresh. Misa likes that the services send only as much food as they need.

10Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

The lower level has two guest bedrooms, including bunk beds for their grandchildren.

11Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

Misa carved a small studio space out from the kids’ room. A small hatch lets in natural light.

12Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

The master bedroom offers a cozy retreat below deck.

13Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

There are three (cramped) bathrooms aboard. A desalination tank provides up to 800 gallons of fresh water for the showers, sinks, and ice maker.

14Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

One difference between living on a boat and in a house is that the septic tank must be emptied once a month. A custom-made “Full of Shit” alarm lights up when it’s time.

15Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

Life at sea comes with some other sweet perks, including the harbor views.

16Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

After a long day at work, Misa loves to putt around the marina and check out the other boats. They enjoy weekend-overnighters at nearby Angel Island and Treasure Island.

17Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

Because of their size, marinas offer a close-knit community for people seeking it. Mike said anytime he pulls up to the dock, his neighbors hop out to help him tie down the boat.

18Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

The couple’s monthly expenses include payment on the boat’s mortgage (they have about $150,000 left on their balance) and a $900 slip fee to live aboard the boat.

19Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

They also shell out for oil changes and about $300 every three months to hire a diver to clean the bottom of the boat in order to prevent rusting.

The costs of maintenance and renovations can also be prohibitive.

Living on a boat isn’t for everyone, because of the maintenance involved. They spend three hours every weekend washing the outside of the boat. “It’s not for lazy people,” Mike said.

20Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!

But the payoff can be worth it. “It’s our vacation, it’s our home. It’s a passion,” Misa said.

21Instead Of          Buying A Super-Expensive House In San Francisco, This Couple          Lives There On A Boat Instead!