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Outrageous housing prices are literally pushing people out to sea: Vicky Mochama

A major selling point to joining the flotilla: I could rightfully insist on being called Commodore, writes Mochama.

A houseboat in Bobcaygeon, Ont. Could this be the future of affordable housing?

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A houseboat in Bobcaygeon, Ont. Could this be the future of affordable housing?

The federal government will be issuing their National Housing Strategy soon and I hope they’ve made plans for the boatpeople.

You see, outrageous house prices may be forcing people off the land and onto the water.

At least, that’s what a report in front of Vancouver city council states: “The affordable housing crisis in Vancouver appears to have resulted in more residents living on vessels, full-time.”

You can’t escape the signs of the housing crisis. I know more and more landlords and tenants are turning to Airbnb. I know that more of my friends are moving out to smaller, less expensive towns that require a commute to their city jobs. I know that my parents have steadily been increasing the volume on their multi-year sales pitch, “Why Rent Downtown When You Can Live With Us In The Suburbs?”

But I confess I hadn’t thought of taking to the seas as an option.

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It seems like an eccentric life choice that would not befit me, a person who will willingly go camping only if and when the zombies take over. However, with no relief in sight on rent and mortgages, it is worth considering now.

A major selling point: I could rightfully insist on being called Commodore.

And by all accounts, there’s a thriving community on the water.

Vancouverites are not the first people to live on water. As a response to high-price housing, they’re not even particularly innovative.

Many Londoners live in houseboats on the Thames. The Guardian reported in 2014  that there are officially 10,000 people living in residential boats. But the writer suggests there may be more, as most of the houseboats are ad-hoc and found by word of mouth.

For the joy of using a chemical toilet on the historic Thames, you can get a bunk for $640 Canadian.

You might inhale a bit of mould, but think of the savings.

Increasingly, that’s the risk of renting in major cities across Canada.

Before I found my current place that I can’t really afford, I saw a lot of apartments. More than a few looked like the place where sadness goes to get sadder. One particularly egregious place looked ready-made for a kidnapper or a torturer. It cost half my salary.

I don’t imagine our lakes and rivers will be full of economic migrants fleeing the land. Instead, as we’re already seeing, more people will move further out of urban areas.

But for every couple of thousand people measuring their house in square meters, there will be a hardy few that measure theirs in nautical miles.

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