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Seattle's Floating Homes
& Funky Houseboats

Related Articles & Directory Listings
The Price to Own Shoreline
Lake Washington Waterfront Mansions

- by Cap't Dave

Seattle Floating Home Houseboat
From a distance, Lake Union floating homes on appear as doll houses set upon a table of glass.

Floating homes are one of the truly unique habitats in which to live. Seattle has one of the largest communities of modern floating homes in the world. Floating homes aren't boats (although they are often affectionately referred to as 'houseboats'). They are just like any other land built house except that they are floating on the water. Of course there are a few differences: You won't find any basements or garages!

Seattle's floating homes are permanently moored on property along the shores of Lake Union and Portage Bay. The owners pay property taxes just like they would on any land-built house. Water, power, and sewer connections are also just the same as on land.

Seattle Floating Home Houseboat
Portage Bay houseboats across from the University of Washington were home to students artists and before that, brothels and speakeasy's.

At one time, there were over 2000 floating homes here in Seattle. Today, they number is less than 500. The first floating residences were built around the early 1900's by people who could not afford land. They were built atop of giant old-growth cedar logs (many which still survive today).

Seattle Floating Home Houseboat
Winter sun teases Spring out of hiding as houseboats float like lilly pads on the edge of a pond.

The houseboat communities over the years have housed fishermen, pipe fitters, shipwrights,and later students, artists and writers--often falling in disrepair and becoming shelters for vagabonds. Today, their increased popularity after Tom Hanks was filmed at a Seattle houseboat in the film 'Sleepless In Seattle'. Floating home prices have skyrocketed in recent years. What was once a few thousand dollars is now in the hundreds of thousands--some homes have sold in the millions of dollars.

Seattle Floating Home Houseboat
Floating communities, with their watery roads and alleyways, conjure visions of a romantic Venetian lifestyle.

Floating home dwellers are an eclectic sort. Some commute to work by kayak and rowboat while others make there home a floating office. It takes a special kind of person to live off land. But for those who enjoy being on the water and living differently than everyone else, then there is a no more invigorating feeling than making a home on a raft of logs where one can see eye-to-eye with the ducks.

This photo tour was provided by Cedar Wave Adventures by Sea, a Seattle-based classic boat charter and tour company offering private picnic boating excursions for small groups. Visit their website at for more information about private boat tours