First, let’s distinguish floating homes from houseboats. “A 'floating home' is a legally-permitted structure, with no means of self-propulsion, which occupies a permanent berth and is subject to property taxes,” according to the Floating Homes Association. They’re basically on concrete barges, so occupants don’t experience much movement.
So how do landlubbers come to live on the water? For Amanda Pleva, the opportunity to live in one such home came through a friend who lives in the community at Waldo Point in Sausalito, California.
Although not necessarily typical of the modern floating house lifestyle, which the Floating Homes Association says is more regulated, Pleva’s particular community was quite social and with a bohemian flair. “Many of the 'pirates' at Waldo Point had come in the late 1960s when the community formed, but there are also some younger artsy/Burning Man types who are joining them.” Pleva lived there for about six months in about a 300 square-foot space, but moved out when she needed to make more room for her son.
Click ahead to see a selection of West Coast floating homes curated by Zillow.com, and presented in order from least expensive to most.
By Colleen Kane
Posted on July 6, 2011
Location: 11666 N Island Cove Lane, Portland, OR 97217
Square Footage: 926
Beds / baths: 2 / 1
The sellers are moving out of the country, and reduced their asking price by $20,000—which means this floating home in Portland’s Hayden Island bay is open to a buyer with about 20% down and possibly less than $1000 mortgage payment. What’s unexpected about this one (besides the low price) is the traditional cottage look of the interiors. Outside, the dark wood shingles lend it the look of a beach house, only it’s even closer to the water. Besides the obvious plus of a yard in the form of the outdoor deck, it has radiant heat, surround sound, and another surprise: a master walk-in closet.
Location: 2023 N Jantzen Ave, Portland, OR 97217 Price: $433,000
Square Footage: 3,080
Beds / baths: 3 / 3
This spacious renovated home, located at Portland’s Hayden Island like the first home, has a corner gas fireplace and several ways to enjoy the views, light, and waterfront, including skylights, a glass-walled and ceilinged sunroom, and a sizable patio with hot tub. The house also includes a huge swim float.
Location: 2394 Mariner Square Dr # B-12 Alameda, CA 94501
Square Footage: 999
Beds / baths: 2 / 1.5
This two-story domicile is situated across the Inner Harbor from Oakland’s Jack London Square. Should the need arise to get over there, it’s close to local transit. Special features include a large upper deck and mirrors above the beds.
Location: 2394 Mariner Square Dr, #b-16, Alameda, CA 94501 Price: $520,000
Beds / baths: 2 / 1.5
This circa-1978 floating house in Alameda has water-facing glass walls and doors leading to a patio, and a roof deck for maximizing views of the estuary.
Location: 2321 Fairview Ave E, Slip 3, Seattle, WA 98102Price: $549,000
Square Footage: 679
Beds / baths: 2 / .75
Built in 1930, this charming floating bungalow conveniently located on the east coast of Seattle’s Lake Union features a remodeled master bath and updated stainless kitchen appliances and stacked washer/dryer. It also has docking room for a little boat or two.
Location: 18525 NE Marine Dr SLIP D2 Portland, OR 97230
Square Footage: 2,436
Beds / baths: 4 / 3
This contemporary floating home facing Portland’s McGuire island would be no less impressive on land: sleek design, Energy Star appliances, custom blinds, and three levels of decks. It also features room to moor a boat.
Location: 2764 Westlake Ave N, Seattle, WA 98109
Beds / baths: 1 / 1.5
This bi-level home with double-decker decks in Seattle’s Fremont area was built in 1978, but features updates like a chef’s kitchen with cherry cabinets and granite counters, and an oversized master suite which was formed by combining two bedrooms. Shops, grocery stores and restaurants are all located within walking distance.
Location: 17809 NE Marine Dr Portland, OR 97230
Square Footage: 4,252
Beds / baths: 5 / 4.5
This enormous floating home on Portland’s Columbia River looks like a mini mansion. Features include a lift garage and mountain, river and sunset views from various decks. Oh, and a 17-foot swim spa on the master deck.
Location: 2369 Fairview Ave E, SLIP 6, Seattle, WA 98102
Square Footage: 2,866
Beds / baths: 3 / 3.5
This modern stunner is located in a floating gated community on the east coast of Seattle’s Lake Union, with a view of the Space Needle. Among many features of the contemporary beauty are a marble fireplace and marble counters, spiral staircase, tiled walk-in shower, and a boat lift.