Houzz TV: Goodbye, Skyrocketing Rents; Hello, Waterfront Living

Houzz TV: Goodbye, Skyrocketing Rents; Hello, Waterfront Living

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Houzz TV: Goodbye, Skyrocketing Rents; Hello, Waterfront Living

After more than a year sharing a cramped San Francisco apartment where the view from her bedroom was an air shaft between buildings, Kelsey Lettko needed a change. So she bought a 36-foot boat and made it a home. Even after paying slip fees and regularly hiring a diver to scrape barnacles off the boat, she saves more than $500 a month living on what she calls her floating condo. And her views now? See for yourself.

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ybxhctq

Thoroughly enjoyed this. Thank you Kelsey for sharing the wonderful things of boat living and also sharing the not so glamorous parts. Congratulations on taking the road less traveled!! Or in your case, the water!! ;-)

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lynndeckerdesign

Smart gal…wonderful space !

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linda_r_sapp

Thoroughly enjoyed the article. Makes one think in different ways. Thank you.

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juliy_90

Kelsey,

Your space is beautiful!!! I really enjoyed the video and the article. I love your little ideas to save space - so clever :)

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Anne Marsh
Smart choice and the location is beautiful! This kind of girl spends her money on memorable life experiences that enrich you as a person and not on possessions that weigh you down and not allow you to see the world ! Great story !
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lslav2012
That sounds wonderful! How are the winters?
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jalarse
Kelsey, enjoy your new lifestyle. We lived for over three years on our boat while we built our home. (We work slow). Your fortunate that you live in the San Francisco area where the temperatures are moderate. We lived in northern Washington state. Had to shovel snow off the docks on some winters.
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ker9
We lived on a 37' sailboat for 15 years. It was a wonderful experience--the traveling, the people, the boating community. Sold the boat and bought a home. Wanted a real bathroom and real kitchen again. It's been 9 years and we're thinking condo and boat now.
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jackierat
I always wanted to live in a boat at a nice marina. Thanks for sharing.
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pafarmhouse
What a charming young woman. Kudos to her for her adventurous spirit and outside-the-box thinking. I would love to sit on her deck watching the sun go down every night. As a long-time homeowner, I think I have lifestyle envy!
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Mocha Latte
Absolutely beautiful!!!
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tooky58

How to live in the city w/out living in the city. Affordably too.

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sue111

Does one need to pay parking rent to park a boat?

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Catherine

It's amazing to see the different ways that people live and how even the smallest place can be made into a beautiful home. To the young woman in the story, thank you for sharing your home - it's unique and beautiful. Great story, houzz!

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Dan Simes

Kelsey is living the dream! Good for her! Would love to see the finished project once it is all done.

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Atef Tabet & Assoc.

what about see sickness as the boats keeps swaying .... otherwise it can be a wonderful experience and good alternative to city box life...


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Upstaged

Good for you, Kelsey! I love your courage and creativity :) I am fortunate to live on a boat most of the summer season and my dream is to eventually end up building and living on a dreamboat with my dream man (he's real ofcourse ;)

Your story is sweet and inspirational…congratulations and well done!

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Jess McBride

This is so fantastic! Good for you, Kelsey!!

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stankuiperi

Wonderful story Kelsey, and so eloquently told. Great to see this beautiful spot - and Krista and Astor too. Dreams do come true.


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rmiss

Excellent story! I would like to hear more about bathrooms and docking fees.

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silviakunst
Good going ! And when you retire you can come to Uruguay the south of France or South Hamptons of South America and live by the sea with no winter in a house that costs you 1000 dollars a year a in taxes ...and pay no income tax !
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Mary E Walker

Nice! Love this. Makes my 750 sf house seem indulgent, and I have NO view!

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Liz K.

Sounds like you are very happy;congratulations. Does the boat ever leave the dock, or is this truly a stationary home?

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Patti St. John Martin

My husband and I are in the midst of downsizing, selling our house, and buying a boat to live aboard. I can't wait!

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melody

Enjoyed the article and video! Kudos to you!

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Gus Emmons
This story really resonates with me...I am truly interested to live on a boat; time to get to it!
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dietribe

Sue111, the slip fee is what you pay to park your boat. My family had a taste of live-aboard life and it was pretty great. Being prone to seasickness, I can attest that when moored in a good harbor, the motion of the boat isn't usually a problem. My parents bought an amazing 50' pilot house ketch that had a 16' beam (width) two bedrooms, two baths, laundry, even a tub! They never did their global circumnavigation but sure had fun at various marinas. I keep hoping the sale will fall through so I can have a chance to remodel her.

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Heather Newman

We are new boaters and live on the ocean. Love the boating life even if it's only short trips for now. Don't think I'll ever be a live abroad but it's a great solution in your situation and you chose a beautiful vessel. Can't beat the connection to nature. Great story. Thanks for sharing.

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Finstads Carpet One

What a simplistic way to live. I love the sense of adventure and the spirit of learning from living this way that Kelsey has. Enjoy the experience while you can.

   
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Kelsey Marie

Thank you so much for all the nice comments! I'm so happy to hear some others have enjoyed boat life as well. As far as leaving the dock goes, I haven't taken it out yet for anything other than maintenance but am hoping to fix a few more things and then take some lessons. :)

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imissliberty

What are the regulatory issues? Is this the kind of thing where living on your boat is illegal, but selectively enforced? The cost of rent in a marina would presumably go up due to demand if it were legal, I'm guessing. Can you use the boat as a legal residence for voting, for example? Does the marina provide mail boxes?

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sweetmommy41

which Marina is the location, Redwood City?

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Jason J

Just leave California....I miss it, born and raised....But let me tell you, taking three hours to drive thirty miles is ridiculous. Now I am told even a studio in Frisco will set you back three grand.....forget it! I mean folks are even driving up property values in the ghettos of Oakland and Richmond....As it has become "the thing".....House boat living is nothing new, I remember visiting friends in the marinas when I was a wee one. Some how this is also now becoming a "fad", I see even northern California is unobtainable.....I even see property values in the remote slums of Oregon are climbing to places where folks can't reach. Housing booms fail, history has proven this.....If folks ever bother to look at real estate in other states, you will see in the east you can pick up a home for less then twenty k....Live a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle and no need to worry about making forty dollars an hour to be able to live on a boat n a marina.....Trust me, its not something she chooses, in California more and more....folks are trying to keep up with the joneses.....Rule is you MUST follow the fads, being your self died in the 70's....

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Diane Greenholdt

Love it! But what about the close proximity to the other boats? Are they other full-timers?

   
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christiania

The tiny house craze might be an off shoot of this lifestyle. Just that one has wheels..........the boat has the better view so far! I applaud anyone who says one can live happily & comfortably with less; then actually DOES it.

You go, girl!

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craigmerrow

Wow, that's really neat! You sure know how to live! While I never got into boating as an adult, I did grow up around my parents sailboats here in Maine; they used to have an 1855 Victorian overlooking the bay, and the boat could be seen from the dining room window. Looking back on it, I had a privileged childhood growing up with that, but then again, everyone I knew grew up, worked, or lived on the waterfront :-)

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duneya

I'm totally jealous :) Your home is beautiful

   
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Remodel and Construction Services

what marina allows live-aboards? when I looked into this there

was big resistance and marina and I think also city regs against living

aboard!!

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lobolrw

Would like to see more stories about live aboard life and live aboard boat renos. We moved aboard 3 years ago and love it. We are able to redo and live in it at the same time. I'm always looking for ideas which is why I scour Houzz late at night lol. Building on a boat is a real challenge as there is nothing level or square. My husband is a genius at figuring out how to do the things I ask for. One day I went below to see how he was coming with the shower and it looked like he was spinning a spider web!!! It was his ingenious way of figuring out the plane of the wall he was going to put in. We now have a beautiful large shower with a high enough front that you can also have a bath as well. He also built a bunk bed in the second state room that converts to a queen size bed.

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Gerald Lorentz

We know the feeling, Kelsey, as we lived on a C&C 36 for 6 years. Hope you too can find adventure on your twin engine Trawler.

We took a hiatus from our careers to fulfill our dream of Blue Water sailing before becoming too old to hoist the main. We sailed the Pacific Ocean from San Diego, California to Valparaiso, Chile, stopping in every country south of the US border.

Sadly, after 9,000 plus NM under keel and a number of bad weather encounters on the Southern Ocean, we placed Valkyrie on the hard, returned to San Diego and took up our careers once more. The thousands of people we met, the ports, harbors, bays, cities, towns, hamlets and places of historic interest we encountered left an indelible mark on our lives. We recommend you put that Trawler to good use and point it South to make your own dreams come true!

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tuxedopoodle

So inspiring! Thank you for sharing. This story brings to life how to make this work--and may change how I spend part of my retirement years.

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inabunker

I think it's cool. Just hope the cost for slip rental doesn't start skyrocketing. Having lived in the Bay Area most of my adult life, that's the biggest concern - for not only boat slips, but ground leases for trailer parks.

   
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cpaynne

Awesome! What a great way to live in harmony with nature! Thanks for sharing.

   
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Cindy Childers

My husband and I have the same model a Searanger early 80's but ours is 50 footer. We keep ours in Oxnard, slip fee 500.00 per month a little more if you use a lot of electricity. I could really do this too. Our master suite has its own head and shower and the guest room as its own head and shower as well. What I love about ours is that we turned our huge aft deck into an outdoor room. We have it carpeted with and furnished with outdoor living room sofa, 2 club chairs and ottomans. Nice wet bar and it is fully canvased off when the weather gets bad. Would love to live aboard full time. We take the Adventure out to the Catalina Islands about once a month. We are such boat fanatics and yes they can be expensive, but for the love of the sea so worth every penny.

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noma

We sold our house and furnishings a year ago and moved onto our boat as liveaboards along with our small dog and Amazon parrot.


Our boat is a 30 ft SeaRay sedan bridge which isn't the style usually used as a live aboard, but with some modifications, it works for us. We also have a smaller fishing boat docked right next to the SeaRay that we take our for day trips. Living on the boat allows us to live on the Gulf Coast Intracoastal Waterway within a mile of the National Seashore white sand beaches in the Florida Panhandle. We too have use of our marina laundry, and we also use the marina bathhouse. We're at a combination resort and marina that has more amenities than the average marina including a pool and clubhouse.

It's relaxing to sit up on the bridge reading and watching the boats go up and down the waterway.

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Eva Tuersley
Smart move.
   
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lewisct

What about security? How do you prevent strangers from boarding your boat? It would be pretty scary living alone.

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butlera

I agree with lewisct. Security was the first thing that came to mind for me too. A boat doesn't seem like a terribly safe permanent dwelling, but I guess as far as cities go, San Francisco's crime rate isn't too bad. On a more positive note, this is the right time of life to do this; before starting a family etc. Enjoy the water and sea lions!

   
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Elizabeth Frieder

what harbor are you in? I find it hard to find a good one that allows live aboards.

   
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surfor

This is a great story, but she doesn't address a REAL issue that Live Aboards have....what do you do with sewage. Sewage and trash are two problems that people who live on boats have to deal with...unfortunately because some of them don't harbors limit the number of legal live aboards.

   
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Cindy Childers

Security is great at our slip. You cannot just walk up to the docks or use the clubhouse or restrooms. We have a security card that slide into lock much like credit cards and we have security guards who walk the area 24/7. As far as the trash, there are huge dumpsters at every area for trash that is picked up the same as if you lived in a home. Sewage is like a travel trailer or motorhome, there are dump stations in several areas but you have to be mobile to get to them. Not much more than if you lived in a motorhome or trailer. Most slips will not allow you to have a boat that is not movable or seaworthy anymore in their slips. We go out all of the time to Catalina Islands or Catalina Harbor.

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dawn7133

Awesome, Kelsey! I'm an architect in Santa Barbara and I've been living on my 60 foot wooden Grand Banks for 13 years! I don't think I'll ever be able to live on land again. I'm spoiled with the water all around me and my 20 minute walk to the office. Well done!

   
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melodyannet

My husband and I have been living on a 50' Ocean Alexander cruiser just outside of Portland, OR for almost 5 years. It has been a wonderful adventure! We both work from home and often take off for long weekends on the river. Sewage is not an issue as we have a company that comes around once a week and pumps our holding tank. Our marina has dumpsters and recycling in the parking lot. We have laundry and shower facilities, although we don't use the showers, as well as a gym and library. They do limit the number of live aboards here too. Many marinas may not have all these amenities but most that allow live aboards in our area do.

We too, have done several projects aboard to make our home more livable for us. We added a 4 panel gliding door in our saloon. As a matter of fact, my husband wrote an article about the project for Sea magazine and it ran in their Sept. issue.

Living aboard is not for everyone, but we love it! When I come home after being gone during the day, I feel myself decompress. Our lifestyle has inspired several of our friends to give it a try as well.

Hang in there Kelsey. Once you can get out and about in your vessel you will love her even more. We spent 3 months in Canada last year and look forward to heading your way in the not too distant future.





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Cindy Childers

I agree Melody. Its not for everyone, but I would much rather be on our boat than in a motorhome. I cannot wait till we get the opportunity to sell all of our land good, home, cars except one, and live full time on The Adventure. I like you decompress as soon as I step on deck. The worlds troubles just wash away. Nothing like waking up in the morning with seals on our swim step sunning themselves. I know we can do this full time as I have already purged everything at home that isn't tied down. Enjoy your years on your boat.

   
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wdcm

The feeling is right but must importantly it is your own ,thank you for sharing your vision ,great luck and fun to be wished on this floating life adventure.

   
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talliesin

I lived on a 36 foot Stingray in Marina del Rey, CA for a year and loved it, even my cat loved it! But there were moments when I didn't love it so much, such as when it was so cold you thought you were an ice floe until the heat kicked in, and if for some reason one had to walk up to the restrooms--I did prefer to shower and primp at the dock showers even though it could be chilly because it was roomy and had many amenities. But, I began my own business and it wasn't conducive to boat living and as I began painting larger portraits there wasn't really enough space for that either. So, had to become a land person again. Maybe if I could have been on a larger boat that would have accommodated a large easel, my piano, and a larger kitchen I could have stayed. I did love going out on it to Catalina, for instance, except getting caught in a storm or two could be a scary adventure. Still, some great memories of that year on the boat. I loved the views and the feel of the water under the boat. Yet, I never learned to swim…

   
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talliesin

Sorry, think I meant SeaRay, not Stingray--it was many, many years ago…

   
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melodyannet

It can be cold up here too, but we have a forced air diesel furnace for when we are away from the dock and electric wall heaters for when we are at our marina. We stay pretty snug even when the temps dip down below freezing. Snow on the dock can be treacherous but our marina is great about keeping docks clear. We are lucky that both our bathrooms are large enough to shower and primp easily on board. As for the piano, not gonna happen! Although we do have a friend who has a small piano on board his boat. It is wonderful when he is playing when we are out. Joyous to hear it coming across the water!



This is a photo of our salon, as you can see no room for a piano!

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hidesertkath

We lived on our 40' Marples trimaran for 9 years. Starting and ending in San Diego, we sailed Mexico, the Sea of Cortez and the Hawaiian islands and back. Legal liveaboard slips are hard to come by in lots of places and I'd be interested to hear where Kelsey was able to get one in the SF Bay area. I definitely wish her well.


   
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jalarse
Imissliberty, a lot of marinas have a set amount of slips that go to liveaboards. Usually it's ten percent of the total number of slips. You will pay more to be a liveaboard because you are using more of the resources of the marina. Trash, shower facilities etc. many marinas will allow you to receive mail to the marina office, or you can get a post office box. When we lived aboard we would get together with other liveaboards in the event of a storm and patrol the docks. High winds and rough seas can cause lines to break fenders to come loose. Non liveaboards are usually very greatful to the liveaboards as we know who belongs on those docks and who does not. My son is now a liveaboard on a 34' Catalina and loves it. Said he cannot imagine apartment living again.
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Vera Kolpakova

It is a wonderful experience but the laundry part would bother me...

   
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melodyannet

We have a washer/dryer on board so don't have to use marina facilities unless we need them. As jalarse mentioned, you really become a family with the other liveaboards at your marina. It can be a nice community. We pay $40 per person here to live on board, but I have heard that some charge much more.

   
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Jude Wenke
Omg this is crazy!! I may do this!! I have loved the idea of living in a boat.
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lorigosslawson

I lived on a 38 foot sailboat in Santa Barbara while at UCSB - this little story brought back fond memories - thanks!


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Norma Johansen Esteves

I love the idea and the strry, enjoy!

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1838673757
i like it very much