Waterfront property takes on its most literal meaning in Old City. Here, where the hustle and bustle of the city meets the ebb and flow of the Piers Marina at 31 N. Columbus Boulevard, you’ll find a way of life uncommon to Philadelphians. Known as “Philadelphia’s Center City Marina,” this unique piece of reality offers nautical lifestyle only a few blocks from the center of Old City. With Penn’s Landing and the Ben Franklin Bridge as its neighbors the Marina harbors all walks of life with transient travelers to year-round inhabitants calling it home. Closing the gate behind you, seemingly another world away from Philadelphia and shut off from the noise of the city, exists an alternative to realtors and mortgages.

“Everyone here has a story to tell,” says resident Alex Schmidt. Being a six-year resident, Schmidt embodies the character of the pier. This able-bodied young man has a healthy dose of sun, sailboat-tattooed shoulder and enthusiasm about the pier’s community; he couldn’t see himself living anywhere else in the city. “Everyone is there to help,” he explained, as he recalled his boat’s maiden voyage last year. “When we left the pier everything went wrong,” says Schmidt as he explains a scary close-call on the water. Thankfully Schmidt had experts onboard from neighboring docks to prepare for such an event and managed to salvage what they could to get back safely. “I couldn’t have done it without them.” The Piers Marina has a very “hands-on” community that isn’t afraid to volunteer some elbow grease or hand you a beer at the end of the day.

The Marina offers floating docks with water, electricity, internet, parking, cable, private showers and laundry facilities. Philadelphians who feel their true calling is somewhere south of the Mason-Dixon line (where Jeep wranglers have sand in every corner and you can de-shell a crab quicker than you can type an e-mail) are lucky to live in a city that offers that, at lease until you can retire. The Marina’s rental rates are dependent upon the length of your boat and the length of your stay. —-Derek Krzywicki