Nothing is quite as relaxing as waking up to serene water views and hearing the sound of lapping waves. But what if you could do it comfortably in your own tiny house on the water? Why not try a tiny floating home, then?
These lovely pocket-sized homes, which give the flexibility of an untethered home that can roam wherever the wind takes you, are perfect for individuals looking for a new experience. They also offer the pleasant simplicity of living tiny without having to pay tons of expenses like you would ordinarily see in a houseboat.
What Is a Floating Home?
So if you know anything about the recent tiny home trend, it should be no surprise that people have taken that idea and done it themselves. This time, though, they’ve built homes that exist to float on the water, rather than taking up space in a lot on land.
The availability of peaceful water is one of the keys to having a successful houseboat or floating home community. In Seattle, Washington, for example, floating homes have been a way of life since the 1930s.
Communities of houseboats and floating homes are centered on marinas that provide facilities like a secure dock, shore electricity, fuel, sewage services, or on-site restrooms with showers.
Numerous marinas that cater to floating tiny home communities also have grocery stores, restaurants, and repair services. The floating villages in Seattle have existed long enough to develop strong building rules to safeguard both people and the environment.
Homeowners associations are common. Depending on the size, facilities, and location, monthly mooring rates range from $300 to $700.
What Is the Difference between a Floating Home and a Houseboat?
Although both houseboats and floating residences can be found on the water, there are important distinctions between the two.
Think of the floating home as more like a typical home. You will pay HOA fees, insurance, and hook up to the local electric, sewer, etc. Floating homes are constructed once, transported to the desired location, and almost always permanently connected to sewer, water, and electricity systems. Essentially, they aren’t meant to move.
Houseboats are mobile and offer "fast disconnect features." Undock, disconnect the hose and electricity, and set out for a new location. There may be a fee associated with the slip, but it won't be recurring. Houseboats are built to be moved and generally have self-propulsion, such as a large boat engine attached.
But which is better?
A houseboat allows you to move if you don't like your surroundings, and they are frequently less expensive. A floating home of a similar size will typically cost more than double what a houseboat of a similar size does.
But keep in mind that houseboats are subject to sales tax and that operators need to be licensed. Finally, moorage for houseboats is often rented, which can be both a benefit and a drawback.
The main benefit of a floating home over a houseboat is stability. The majority of floating house communities have been around for a while and are most likely to continue doing so for a very long time, though this is not a guarantee.
Additionally, there is a rising demand for them; thus, the number of available floating homes may soon increase. You will also find that floating homes can easily be larger than houseboats.
In fact, when compared to houseboats, floating homes are frequently larger, albeit the added size adds to the cost of ownership. For most consumers, the sticker shock of $700 per square foot (or more) might be overwhelming.
Finally, floating homes are less mobile. Since floating homes often have a bigger footprint and are less susceptible to movement brought on by wind and waves, they are less bothersome for some people than houseboats that rock back and forth.
Pros and Cons of a Floating Home
Pros - Ever wanted to look out and see endless, rolling waves and enjoy the beauty of living right on the water? Floating homes can offer this sort of living and view, especially if you don’t want to live full time on a boat.
You won't be required to pay property taxes because a houseboat isn't always regarded as ‘true’ property across the nation. In some cases, it might be viewed as personal property, where you'd have to pay a modest personal property tax every year.
As long as the houseboat qualifies as a qualified residence, it is either a first or second home with a toilet, sleeping spaces, and kitchen facilities—the interest on your loan payment is tax deductible.
Others distinguish between houseboats and floating residences, taxing the former as real property and the latter as personal property. The laws in your area might be revealed to you by a trained real estate agent.
The opportunity to personalize your home's layout and style compared to some traditional homes are further advantages over conventional housing. Last but not least, residing in a floating home would provide you with an incomparable sense of peace.
Cons - Not everyone wants or should live in a floating home. Although many people who live on the water claim they'll never want to return to dry land, others become tired of lugging groceries down the ramp and carrying trash back up after a few years.
Even deliveries can be made harder, as most home delivery services won’t drive out to marinas or directly to your floating home.
Additionally, you must get used to the rocking and rolling (particularly during storms). If you’ve got a touchy stomach, you might want to steer clear of a floating home. Keep in mind that only a few locations—lakes or areas along the shore of inhabited towns—also offer the possibility of floating dwellings.
Space is yet another drawback of a floating dwelling. Get along with your neighbors and their peculiarities because the floats are around 10 feet apart. Most moorages lack garages, and the few available carports and storage buildings have waiting lists for rent. That means you will get to know people intimately and quickly if you wish to keep the peace.
How Much Does a Floating Home Cost?
Many more individuals will turn to building floating homes in city harbors, canals, and lakes as land becomes more expensive and scarce in large cities, especially along the East Coast.
Space is less expensive on the ocean than on land. Most people estimate it will cost around $120,000 to create a 1,200-square-foot, three-bedroom floating house. Compared to a traditional home, the costs might be doubled, tripled, or even more in some locations.
One interesting fact is that dwellings on boats may be safer during less intense storms than homes on land, which could save on rebuilding and maintenance costs. This safety is because they can bob up and down in response to flooding.
This bobbing contrasts with homes constructed on land, which are fixed and cannot change their orientation to prevent flooding. Of course, this only counts for; there will be significant damage if a large one strikes.
Although floating homes tend to be less expensive in the long run, purchasing one can be more difficult. Buyers frequently need to look around for willing credit unions because very few institutions would give mortgages for homes on the water. These credit unions typically have larger down payments and interest rates.
What Is the General Price Range of a Floating Home?
The cost of floating homes varies according to their size and purpose. Most floating homes are located outside major city borders or in small cities where real estate rates are cheaper than typical because they are not close to the heart of large cities. As with any residence, the smaller the home, the lower the monthly bills.
A large floating home near a pricey downtown district may cost up to USD 5 million, yet a roomy, straightforward one-bedroom floating home might just cost USD 200,000.
There are no acreage restrictions on floating homes either; you can have a lavish 10,000+ square foot home with numerous amenities or a modest 500 square foot one on a tiny lake.
How Much Does a Floating Home Cost to Maintain?
Each floating home owner will have a very different perspective on this.
Naturally, when you purchase a floating home, things can and will go wrong from time to time (much like a house), but it might be harder to access the sections that need maintenance, which might increase the repair cost.
Sewage and electricity might be more specialized as well, though you can often find one person who services others in the marina, so hopefully, the prices won’t rise too high.
Additionally, how well-maintained the houseboat you buy will play a role in this. To maintain and repair a reasonably nice houseboat should cost between $100 and $150 a month. Please remember that this cost is the one factor that varies the most from person to person, even more so if you own a used or pre-owned floating home.
What Should You Consider before Deciding to Live in a Floating Home?
How Do I Know If This Lifestyle Will Suit Me?
Going on a trial run is the best way to see whether the floating house lifestyle works for you. Do this for a minimum of two weeks before deciding whether or not the lifestyle works. It's crucial to approach this situation with an open mind and a readiness to try new things. Living on the water is a lifestyle choice, so do it your way!
Where Will You Live?
This problem is one of the most important you will need to solve, as there are only a few areas in the United States that are suited for floating homes. They can also be located far away from main cities or the heart of cities, meaning that you could be away from amenities, work, or schools.
What about Pets and Kids?
One thing you will especially need to consider is the safety of pets and kids, especially if they are younger. Remember, you will live on the water, and if your pets or kids go unsupervised, the water could be quite dangerous.
Are You Willing to Downsize Your Belongings?
Floating homes, like just about any other tiny home, mean smaller amounts of space which, in turn, means you will likely be downsizing a lot of your belongings. This situation can be especially true if multiple family members are living on a floating home.
You will also want to consider that living on the water could mean your gear and belongings come into contact with the water or at least misty or salty air, and items that are prone to mold or mildew could be affected greatly by this.
How Will You Deal with Transportation?
We already mentioned that floating homes are typically not really near the city centers of most areas, but have you really thought through how you will get to hospitals, schools, or work? And furthermore, many floating homes don’t have access to garages, or if they do, you will likely pay for the privilege.
Although they're not for everyone, floating homes can provide a distinctive and economical living experience. It's crucial to weigh the advantages and disadvantages if you're interested in purchasing one.
These houses offer a special kind of dwelling that many people don't have access to, which is one of their advantages. There is something for everyone because they are available in different styles.
Most floating homes require more maintenance than other types of dwellings, which is a drawback. Additionally, if you want one near public transportation or a dock, it must be in a marina or a lake.
In the end, a floating home might be ideal for you if you're looking for a different living situation with loads of conveniences.
So, are floating homes right for you? And if not, what other alternative home options have you been looking at that might be better? If you'd like more information, check out our article on the pros and cons of tiny homes or three alternative housing options that are currently trending!