A uniquely Seattle form of living immortalized in the movie Sleepless in Seattle, houseboats currently line the shores of Lake Union and Portage Bay. Actually, calling them houseboats is a bit of a misnomer. Most of them are floating homes that are permanently attached to their docks. A true houseboat will have its own means of propulsion and can navigate waterways.
The floating homes of Seattle have a history as long as the city itself. Originally built as crude structures on rafts to house logging workers, the houseboats really took off during the depression of the 1930’s, with people seeking cheap housing building temporary quarters on top of old cedar logs. These “temporary” structures took hold in the psyche of Seattle, and after numerous legal battles throughout the years, there remains 480 or so that still exist.
Living in a floating home in Seattle is all about the lifestyle. There is definitely a charm to being able to dock your sailboat or kayak outside your living room window, and the gentle rocking motion of the boat reminds you that you are living on the water, yet you are in the middle of a major urban city. Many people also love the tightknit communities that develop on the houseboat docks.
Seattle floating homes come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and price ranges. Some are tiny, others are funky, some are modest and others are multi-million dollar palaces on the water. Here is an incredible floating home currently listed for $3,450,000!
If you are visiting Seattle, the best way to see these homes is on a boat tour of Lake Union, maybe on a Sunday Ice Cream Cruise or riding the Ducks. You can also catch glimpses of the houses and docks along both the Eastlake and Westlake areas of Lake Union. They are obviously a tourist attraction and curiosity for many visitors, but these are also people’s homes, so respect their privacy while you are checking them out.