Amsterdam's waterways are lined with houseboats. Approximately 2,400 families live on houseboats. They came about after WWII when there was a housing shortage and a surplus of cargo ships. Some saw the opportunity to turn the cast off ships into a home.
In the '60s and '70s, houseboat living really began to take off, forcing the city to adopt a policy limiting the number of houseboats in its canals. No more new mooring permits are released. This means, the price of houseboats with permits have increased substantially over the years.
There are three basic forms of houseboats. The houseship is an old cargo ship with a refurbished bay and captain's quarters. The housevessel has had its deck and steering house removed to make room for a structure meant for living in. The ark (pictured above) is a houseboat with a square hull for the sole purpose of housing.
It's fun to walk Amsterdam's canals and sneak peaks into the various houseboats. Some have been fabulously restored while others are in serious need of repair. You can let your imagination run wild with ideas of what life is like on a houseboat. Or, you can visit the Houseboat Museum, a former freighter that was converted into a houseboat housing families for over 20 years. Visitors can see for themselves what it's like to live on a houseboat in Amsterdam.