Life in a Floating Home

By Kate Riley June 28, 2018

I was catching up on a stack of magazines yesterday. One of my favorite publications is Sunset Magazine, and inside was an article about a family reunion on a houseboat. It’s a worthy read and a well written glimpse into a summer gathering on a rented vessel.

When I was visiting Seattle last month, I booked an afternoon sailing tour of Lake Washington where my captain sailed us past an entire community of floating homes, including the one made famous by the film Sleepless in Seattle.

It made me imagine living life on the water, where the bark of a seal is your wakeup call and you spend your evenings looking at a panoramic water view.


floating home in Seattle

People use the term “houseboat” loosely to describe both a mobile vessel and a moored residence, but there is a distinction. Homes that are permanently docked on the water are called floating homes. They are berthed indefinitely, and connected to city water and sewer. Houseboats, like barges and boats, are free to roam, and dock where permitted.

Floating homes all come with additional complications, government oversight, local regulations, community rules, and the engineering challenges of living in a residence that floats on the water. Just a 30 minute drive from my home is a thriving floating home community in Sausalito, California, similar to dozens more communities that exist around the world.

I’m a student of how people live, especially when it’s outside the box, so I find this lifestyle fascinating. I hope you’ll find these floating residences and houseboats equally as inspiring as I do.

A personal story of remodeling a houseboat in Marin County, California.



Read this couple’s story of building a family friendly floating home in San Francisco.




A minimalist and modern house on water built by Dirkmarine in Denmark.




I love the graphic patterns inside this rustic and refined barge docked in London.




Tour this luxurious and contemporary floating home, the The Solstice in Seattle.




Scandinavian influences are present inside this floating home in Copenhagen.




You’ll recall Chip and Joanna made this home famous on their show Fixer Upper.




You can buy a floating bungalow that can tie off at any private dock or marina.




Looking for a Florida vacay? Splurge on The Luxuria vacation rental in Ft. Lauderdale.




Stay in this floating home if you’re visiting Vancouver.



Here’s a modern home with wood tones throughout anchored in Portage Bay.




These Nautilus boats are crossovers, designed to live like homes.




If you have romantic notions about living in a floating home, read this insider article about the charm and challenges of this type of residence. You might also enjoy an architect’s perspective on how to build a floating home.



  1. My friend lives on a Sausalito houseboat. She said an interesting challenge occurred when they renovated their kitchen.
    When they took out the old cabinets and put in new, it was changing the weight in the home. To prevent furniture from sliding across the room, they had to use weights while they moved the pieces around.
    And the cabinets had to be delivered by boat because they were too big for the gangplank.
    Such unusual complications!

    • great story! I read something similar, that each piece of furniture has to be carefully considered for proper balance, so interesting isn’t it!?

  2. I love these and could totally imagine myself living in one of these houses. I think our only struggle would be our two large dogs. That would deter me from it. We’ve moved seven times. We increased square footage the first four houses and decreased dramatically each house since. I’m tired of stuff. Living in one of those houses would require having only what you needed and I’m all for that! Plus, the views!!! Wow!

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