My Imagined Life on a Dutch Barge

15 Aug

Have you ever imagined yourself living in a floating house? What would your life be?I quested myself yesterday when I passed again by Londonsekaai where I always see a number of barges down in the canal.

A line of Dutch barges, Middelburg, the Netherlands

A line of Dutch barges, Middelburg, the Netherlands

These barges have attracted me since 2008 when I arrived in Middleburg for the first time. Their size, decoration and location fascinated me. I have never seen before people living in floating houses and I had no idea what was the feeling of being a tenant in a barge. I am curious to know what life on those small vessels is like.

In the past, the small ships were used to transport goods and merchandise on the inland waterways. Nowadays, those vessels are considered too small for freight thus a lot of them are converted to practical dwellings which people can hire or buy. The size of a Dutch barge varies between 13 m to 31 m in length, 2.5 m to 6 m in width, and those with flat floor are really spacious. Many barges can be seen anchored on the inland waterways of many Dutch cities and towns like Amsterdam, Utrecht, Maastricht etc.

Dutch barges in Amsterdam

Dutch barges in Amsterdam

Barges in Amsterdam

Barges in Amsterdam

If only I possessed a barge, I would be a fancy sailor who sails on the inner canals which are connected in a network allowing me to visit Belgium and southernern parts of France. I could even travel back to Bulgaria at any time without bothering that I might miss my train or plane.

Visiting different places is one of the major advantages of a mobile home. I could also list several others. If I lived on a canal, I would not be bothered by noisy neighbors who  live above or below my apartment. My neighbors would not also be bothered by me; thus a can throw parties and listen to loud music. In addition, it would always be romantic and cozy to chill on the deck with friends. Furthermore, I could easily restructure and decorate my home in many different ways because the walls inside can also be mobile; I can just shift them. Furniture would be transported easily in a boat than it could be in a Dutch apartment or house which have narrow corridors and staircases.

Despite the advantages, I can imagine that there would also be several disadvantages. The barges would require constant care due to exposure of harsh environmental conditions. For example, I might have problems with leaking windows when it is raining or frozen pipes in the winter. Moreover, I have to be always at home during big festivals such as Queen’s Day, Gay Pride, or football matched when a crowed invades the streets of the city. I have to be sure that nobody jumps on the roof of my barge and damages my home. It is important to note that living in such a fancy home leads to inevitable encounter with Dutch bureaucracy which is very tedious. I would need permits to travel; I might make several arraignments before I am completely allowed to move in a barge with electricity and water. To add, costs would be most probably higher.

Whatever the disadvantages are, I have to admit that living in a barge might be fancy, romantic and cozy.


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