Mar 21, 2010

Waterfront living? This is it

By Debby Kwong

Some return to home and hearth. Mr Robert Crivelli returns to his home and berth.

His family of four lives on the Melivia, a 21m-long houseboat berthed at ONE�15 Marina Club.

Mr Crivelli, 44, senior director at a private bank, was inspired by friends who lived on boats in Hong Kong's Discovery Bay.

The Swiss was hooked after going to a boat show at ONE�15 Marina Club in 2007.

The family was then living in a $7,500-a-month rented house in Bukit Timah.

His wife, Rakia, 44, and two children Bruno, 15, and Dounia, 11, like their new lifestyle too.

The houseboat has four bedrooms, four bathrooms, a living room, a dining room, a terrace, a kitchen and a laundry room. It has about 2,500 sq ft of living space.

Melivia cost less than $1.5 million and took six months to build in Zhuhai, China, before being delivered to Singapore in early 2008. The family moved in soon after.

'Some friends could not imagine life on a boat. But after visiting us, they agree it doesn't move and you don't really feel like you are on water,' Mr Crivelli said.

A Sunday Times check with marinas and clubs found that at least a dozen expatriates - mostly from the United States, Germany, Britain and Australia - live on boats here. Some do so with family members.

Software architect Kris Beevers, 29, came to Singapore in September 2008. The New Yorker decided he would move onto a boat after six months of living on land.

His housing agent laughed and told him 'it was impossible and too expensive', he said.

Mr Beevers had always wanted to live on a boat but the cold weather in New York was a problem.

Last month, the bachelor finally found a second-hand 12m sloop in Phuket, Thailand which he bought for US$60,000 (S$84,000).

'There aren't many affordable boats for sale in Singapore. It's a bit laborious to fly out to see boats but the difficulties are surmountable.'

His boat, Oia, will arrive here at the end of the month. It will berth at the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club.

Mr Beevers' decision to live on a boat took into account the property prices in Singapore.

'At $700,000, a two-bedroom apartment here is the cost of a mansion in many other places,' he said, adding that living on a boat is generally cheaper, with owners paying about $2,000 a month for berthing and utilities.

'Buying a boat and living on it is cheaper than paying rent for the same period. And after that, it just gets cheaper and cheaper,' he said.

There is a bonus too.

'When I need a break, I can sail my home off to a secluded island and relax for a few days,' he said.