Idyllic windmills, never-ending horizons and a unique web of picturesque waterways: to this day, nothing calls to mind the typical Dutch town quite as evocatively as the country’s “grachten”, or canals. Some of the country’s citizens have even made the water their permanent home – like Lex van Doorn. On the banks of the Vecht, a forty-kilometre-long river close to the Ijsselmeer bay, the water laps quietly against the wooden planks of an Utrecht houseboat. This calming sound has accompanied Lex van Doorn for around ten years, And is just as soothing to him now as it was when he first swapped Amsterdam’s pulsing city life for a peaceful living on a houseboat in Nieuwersluis, just outside Utrecht.
“I grew up in Utrecht,” Lex tells us, beginning the tale of how he moved his life onto the water. “Even when I was little, I was fascinated by the houseboat lifestyle.” The quiet river is home to just five houseboats with permanent residents, one of which belongs to Lex and his son, Beau. “Water always been part of my life,” Lex continues. “I’ve often taken trips to the lake, and even worked as a deep-sea diver for a while.” The 51-year-old is still in the ship business today. “So really, no-one was surprised when I told them I wanted to move into a houseboat,” Lex laughs.