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A Meta employee buys a cozy cruise ship condo so he can work from home and explore the world

Austin Wells, a 28-year-old Meta employee from San Diego, recently made a real estate purchase that made news around the world.

Real estate is an expensive investment and should be thought through given one’s income, future plans, and life goals. While his decision may be unusual for some, Wells made the best choice given his current career and real estate options.

He recently paid $300,000 for a 12-year lease on a 237-square-foot studio on a cruise ship, likening the purchase to buying a condo to rent or sell. The cruise ship will be available for residency in 2025.

As an employee of Meta, Facebook’s parent company, Wells works remotely and will continue to do so while he travels across the globe on his cruise ship apartment.

His future home will be on the MV Narrative, which will have 547 floating condominiums for around 1,000 residents.

Properties on the cruise ship range from Wells’ $300,000-studio to a two-floor, four-bedroom home covering 1,970 square feet that costs around $8 million.

Though Wells’ apartment is the humblest property on the cruise ship, it has all the amenities one would ever need. It includes a desk, Murphy bed, a pantry, and a petite bathroom that can rival those found in high-end apartments.

Some of the more expensive properties have balconies! The ship features multiple lounges, workspaces and meeting areas, a library, and 20 restaurants and bars spread over 18 floors.

StorylinesKeeping fit won’t be a problem with the ship’s 24-hour 10,000-square-foot gym and spa, as well as three swimming pools. There is even a school and a bank on board!

There is a medical station since the ship is designed for long-term residency. The MV Narrative will also have a theater for performances and movies.

With all these comforts, living on a cruise ship is surely the best way for the Meta employee to work and see the world at the same time.

Wells said, “The thing that most excites me is I don’t have to upend my daily routine, in order to go see the world. I’m going from this model where you want to go somewhere, you pack a bag, you get on a flight, you rent a room; to now my condo, my gym, my doctors and dentists, all of my grocery stores travel the world with me.”

The Meta employee expressed his excitement about living in the high seas, saying that he had always been fascinated by large ships, which he described as ‘a marvel of engineering and economics.’

As he said, this would be a great opportunity to explore ‘harder-to-reach destinations or sea-based destinations like beautiful dive spots.’

Alistair Punton, chief executive officer and founder of Storylines, the company behind the project, developed the MV Narrative because he and other executives ‘wanted to offer more affordable apartments for life at sea.’

Storyline offers apartments for a 24-year or lifetime (60-year) lease. They also offer a shorter term to entice new residents, which the Meta employee availed of.  Residents on the cruise ship will have to pay an all-in inclusive living fee of $2,100 per person.

This covers food and drinks from the ship’s restaurants and bars, laundry, fitness classes, and medical checkups.

For Wells’ 12-year lease, his studio costs about $2,083 a month, compared to $2,100 per month in rent for most apartments in San Diego. So, the Meta employee would only need to shell out about $4,200 a month to live an all-expenses-paid-life, without having to pay for a car, waste time shopping for groceries, or go to a hospital for a medical examination.  

Plus, there is the added attraction of waking up every few days in a different part of the world! Wells said, “What I’m probably most excited about is going to places that ships can only uniquely go.

Cruise ships can travel to unique ecological parts of the world or beautiful dive spots that are a few miles off land or caves to dive through and the ship will do a number of overnight stays in those areas.”

The 741-foot cruise ship will dock at ports for around three to five days, which is longer than average for liners. This gives residents more time to explore the different areas on their itinerary.

With complete conveniences and the opportunity to travel and enjoy new experiences at a reduced cost, Storylines hopes to attract investments from people from all walks of life, including families.

The cruise offers such a unique experience that Punton, as well as all the executives of the company, plans to move his family onto the ship.

Wells has already worked out his schedule when he moves into the cruise ship. The Meta employee is part of Reality Labs, the company’s augmented and virtual reality division, and his job is fully remote.

He plans to work U.S. West Coast hours as the ship visits European cities. He said, “My working hours will be shifted towards evenings, nights and very early mornings. But that does open up the ability for me to maybe see a city midday to afternoon and then start my workday around six or 7pm.”

Punton explained that during the cruise, “Most people will be out in the local cities and doing day trips and overnight trips, hiring a car and going out for three or four days and meeting the ship at its next destination.”

A sample itinerary might include three days docked in Rome, then three days in Naples, followed by stops at smaller places such as the seaside towns of Sapri and Marsala, and eventually reaching Venice before sailing on to Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Greece, and then Turkey. The cruise also plans to travel to the Arctic Circle during its three-year trip around the world.

Though the MV Narrative will be launched in 2025, Wells is already excited to begin the journey. He stressed, “This is probably the first time ever that there is even the ability to have a standard job and even consider working and living from a floating apartment complex.”

Apartment owner with an all-expenses-paid life plus the chance to travel to amazing destinations for about $50,000 a year? It sounds like this Meta employee got a great deal.

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