For years, foreign transplants to Abu Dhabi have experienced surprise, shock, and perhaps even the occasional minor coronary event after realizing how steeply-priced rental accommodations are in the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Boat lover Berend Lens van Rijn developed a solution after spending a decade running the marine management business he founded, Belevari Marinas. Now he is working to bring luxury houseboats built by Netherlands-based Waterlovt to one of the world’s most expensive cities.
The entrepreneur realized he could pair his love of boats with a unique niche in the housing market by creating upscale houseboats for those seeking to escape sky-high rental prices. Houseboats, a not-entirely-uncommon housing choice in the Netherlands, translate well to Abu Dhabi’s plentiful waters. “My dream has been to get rid of these ridiculous rents and then live on my boat. If you take that in a more professional way it’s actually very doable,” van Rijn told The National earlier this year.
Waterlovt builds self-sustaining next-generation houseboats for a luxurious “future-proof” mode of living. Each vessel can produce around 3.5 kilowatts per hour of solar energy, which powers onboard air conditioning, a washing machine, television, and also charges the houseboat’s battery to supply power at night. As such, the high-end houseboats are capable of functioning entirely off the grid.
The houseboats come in four different sizes, all variations on a basic design. Each has an entry level with a living room, kitchen, and dining area, as well as a lower level. The two smaller houseboats are designed with bedrooms on the main level, while the larger versions can have as many as four separate bedrooms situated on the lower level.
Although houseboat life can be a challenge, requiring careful maintenance and a minimalist lifestyle, van Rijn insists it’s a plus in the long term. “If you’re getting a housing allowance, and after five or 10 years of living in a rented villa you realize that for that money you could have lived on a boat, you’re going to kick yourself,” he said in his interview with The National. It’s no wonder living aboard floating abodes is a growing trend among expats in the UAE.
Via Rent a Houseboat
Images via Waterlovt