Ultimate real estate: Houseboat offers cottage living in the city

With a $150,000 price tag, it's extremely affordable compared to average selling prices in Toronto

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The Betty White, as she's named, is a renovated houseboat for sale that currently resides in Bluffer's Park marina, located east of Toronto.

In the words of the comedic musical trio The Lonely Island, "I'm on a boat."

And the buyer of this all-season houseboat will be able to live true to the song as well.

It's priced at $150,000, relatively affordable considering the average price of a detached home in the Greater Toronto Area was $1.49 million in April, according to the latest Toronto Regional Real Estate Board data.

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She's called The Betty White and was originally built in the 70's by the same company that makes the aluminum foil found in your kitchen cabinet.

The boat has been completely renovated since the current owner purchased it in 2016. The renovation included adding a second level, teak wood panelling and built-in beds. The renovation nearly doubled the amount of living space to roughly 450 square feet.

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"Every part of the boat has been upgraded, refreshed, redone, and repaired," said owner Marilee Yorston, in a written response to Yahoo Finance Canada.

"It happened a little bit at a time because it was a huge job and there were no blueprints to go from. We made it up as we went along."

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The $150,000 price tag includes the boat itself. The buyer will have to rent dock space at a marina of their choosing. Greater Toronto marinas include Bluffers Park in Scarborough (east of Toronto), where the boat currently lives, Toronto Island Marina, Harbourfront or Port Credit in Mississauga, Ont. (west of Toronto).

But truly, the boat can be moved anywhere, because, well, it's a boat!

There are dock rental fees, which cover aspects such as hydro, water and marina amenities, and maintenance fees of $600 per month. One thing you don't have to worry about is property taxes — there are none since you don't technically own land property.

The listing on realtor.ca has been up for a little over two months as of May 11, but Keller Williams Co-Elevation Realty sales representative Natalie Sydoruk says there's been lots of interest. She says she is fielding calls every day, and showings have picked up with the warmer weather.

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It's relatively rare that houseboats come up for sale in southern Ontario because of limited inventories and the seasonal nature of boating in the province.

Yorston says when she purchased it in 2016, there were almost none available. Since then, there have "been a few" that have been listed.

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The right buyer for not only the boat, but the associated lifestyle, is someone who enjoys nature and adventure, Yorston says.

"Plus, if you work in the city, coming home to the boat feels like you live in the country — without the mega commute! It's a really incredible way to unwind, sitting on the dock watching the swans and visiting with neighbours. The community is fantastic!" she added.

In the winter, the community dwindles as only a small number of people live on their houseboats year-round.

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She acknowledges this lifestyle is not for everyone, though.

One of the biggest challenges was learning the differences between living on a boat and living in a house on land.

The boat uses a pellet stove for heating, which requires carrying a 40-pound bag of pellets from the storage area down the dock to the boat every day, and waste (human or otherwise) needs to be manually removed.

"Learning how to do those things will change your appreciation for modern conveniences like toilet plumbing," Yorston said.

However, that pales in comparison to the positives the lifestyle offers, she says.

"There is something very special about this secret life we have."

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Michelle Zadikian is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @m_zadikian.

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