If waterfront property is too tame (or too pricey) for you, houseboats and floating homes might be just right. While slightly different (houseboats can travel, while floating homes are generally built on docks), both options can be a delight for adventure-minded homeowners who just can’t get enough of dipping their toes in the water.
Perhaps the best thing about them? Floating homes are often part of floating neighborhoods. Scarlett Scanlon, who lives in a floating home over the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon, has neighbors who share her lifestyle. “Our community is definitely like a neighborhood,” she says. Her neighbors always say hello, and there are monthly meetings and neighborhood events.
“In the summer we have amazing barbecues, and our friends love to come over and fish,” she says.
If you’re ready to take the plunge, take at these floating beauties:
New York City
Howard Beach – $185,000
This Queens neighborhood has the one thing thought to be unheard of when talking about urban neighborhoods: space. In Howard Beach, you’ll find wide streets with single-family homes (and yards) that’ll make you forget that you’re in New York City. However, the choices of great Italian restaurants (you’ll find most on Cross Bay Boulevard) will help you remember, along with its convenient proximity to the subway and to JFK International Airport. But what locals enjoy more is the tight-knit nature of living in this unique place. One resident who grew up in Howard Beach says that this is the type of community where neighbors come together to help each other out.1
While New York City is famous for its sky-high real estate prices, this three-bedroom, one-and-a-half bathroom floating house/houseboat hybrid is refreshingly affordable for the region. It even comes with a few extras, like a dining space, Jacuzzi and red oak floors.
Wilkes – $198,000
If you’d rather live off the beaten path (read: away from Portland’s trendier neighborhoods), yet still within driving distance of shopping, work, and even the airport, Wilkes is the neighborhood for you. It’s a quiet place to live, known mostly for its industrial and office buildings—but the views are anything but ordinary. The marinas where you’ll find floating homes and houseboats are positioned across from Government Island, a 1,760-acre island of lush trees and a wide variety of wildlife.
You can see it all from the living room of this petite one-bedroom, one-bathroom floating home. The cottage-like exterior might seem tiny, but its neutral decor, huge windows, and open layout make it feel so much bigger inside. And the second-story deck is a dream.
Wallingford – $275,000
If you ask a local what they love most about the Wallingford neighborhood in Seattle, you’ll get one answer again and again: Walkability. In fact, 100% of residents say you can walk to restaurants (and 88% say that you can walk to grocery stores), in our What Locals Say survey. The neighborhood’s location on the northern side of Lake Union is largely free from tourists and includes a long stretch of restaurants and bars on N. 45th street. There, you can sample everything from vegan cuisine to some of the best burgers in the city (at Dick’s Drive-In, a favorite since 1954).
The walkability factor of Wallingford makes this one-bedroom, one-bathroom houseboat the only vehicle you’ll need. It looks straight out of a storybook, with a cozy wood-trimmed interior that amazingly fits a full kitchen into 212-square-feet.
Liberty Dock – $450,000
You can’t talk about houseboats without mentioning Sausalito. A quick trip across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, this bayside town has been associated with houseboats since the aftermath of the Great 1906 San Francisco Earthquake. Back then, well-to-do residents took to living in their “arks” (basically, grand party boats) for shelter. After World War II, beatniks (and later hippies) would flock to the area, turning low-cost boats leftover from the war efforts into creative residences. Decades and a few notable residents (like Shel Silverstein and Rip Torn) later, Sausalito’s houseboats are even more famous—and very in-demand. One neighborhood rich in houseboats is Liberty Dock, which is more established (read: more owners, fewer renters), and is quiet, yet still has a strong social vibe.
You can have a piece of Sausalito history all your own with this one-bedroom, one-bathroom floating house. Nicknamed the “Fortune Cookie,” this circa-1960s home has a unique curving roof that’s made it a neighborhood icon for decades.
Hayden Island – $699,900
Situated underneath I-5 between Vancouver, Washington, and North Portland, Hayden Island is a haven for those who love houseboats and floating homes. (In the summer, more than 5,000 boats are moored there.) The neighborhood’s character changes as you travel around the island—the western half is an 800-acre nature preserve, while the center of the island has a cluster of big-name stores (Target, Best Buy, and many more). While Hayden Island is popular with vacationers, that hasn’t cramped the residential atmosphere. One local described their neighbors as an ideal-sounding mix of “friendly, but not nosy.”2
You’ll have plenty of room to entertain in this two-bedroom, two-bathroom floating home. Originally built in 1930, the interior has been impressively updated in a modern-industrial style (the spacious stainless steel kitchen is a standout). The second floor, with its unusually large walk-in shower and roomy balcony, was made for a soothing night in.
Portage Bay – $1,495,000
Under-the-radar but not out of the way, Portage Bay offers a small neighborhood setting in a big city. It’s a vibe residents actively have encouraged, with one resident observing that the community is “very active, with events throughout the year.”3 You won’t find trendy bars and restaurants here. Instead, social lives revolve around outdoor recreation along the coast of Portage Bay. At Roanoke Park, families love the playground, fruit trees, and open space. And there are plenty of them—one resident estimates that there are 100+ kids within a few blocks distance in either direction.4
This contemporary two-bedroom, two-bathroom floating home offers something truly rare: plenty of space indoors and out. A rooftop lounge and a spacious deck include lovely spots for al fresco dining and unwinding, while huge windows frame the incomparable views during evenings curled up by the fire.
Ready to find the right home for you? Floating or otherwise? See what’s available on Trulia.
1 Lucy D., Feb. 2019 “I grew up in this neighborhood and I love how the community comes together to help each other, when needed. “
2 Trulia User, 2013 “A quiet community. Nature everywhere: seals, blue herrons, ducks! Very nice, close to shopping and public transportation. Neighbors are friendly but not nosy and don’t complain. Having a boat just out back is super, can enjoy the river instantly. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.”
3 Trulia User, 2013 “Roanoke Park is a great area for families, with the beautiful city park that anchors the neighborhood. The community is very active with events throughout the year.”
4 Trulia User, 2013 “Amazing neighborhood to live in. Great community, tons of children, 2 public elementary/K-8 schools to choose from, 100+ children to become friends with. The list goes on and on.”