2821 Fairview Ave E Unit 7. Photo: NWMLS/Windermere R.E.N.W. Eastlake
If you’ve always wanted to live on a lake, Seattle is the place to anchor your hopes and dreams. There are five different ways to dwell on the water in Seattle, but the two most common are aboard a Floating on Water Residence (FOWR) and a Floating Home. Tomayto, tomahto, you say? Though they sound like two names for the same glorious waterfront lifestyle, they are actually different.
According to the Seattle Department of Planning and Development, a Floating Home is a single-family dwelling on a moored float that is connected to sewer and water utilities. A Floating on Water Residence, on the other hand, is designed and used for navigation but lacks a means of self-propulsion and steering equipment. To move, a FOWR must be towed. If you feel like you’re drowning in syntax, you can learn about the intricacies in this helpful handout from Seattle DPD.
Seattle has hosted houseboats and floating homes on its beautiful lakes for over a century. According to HistoryLink, the first houseboat residents in the early 1900s were unemployed laborers and viewed as “squalid, lawless nests of anarchic outcasts, rowdy riff-raff, and the flotsam of society,” by the upper classes. An amazing contrast to today, when a floating home on Lake Union can list for over $3 million.
In the 1960s, the Lake Union houseboat community began renting properties and the water dwellings became a popular hangout for creative types. Painters, folk and jazz musicians and college kids swarmed the docks. Here are a few of the hippest houseboats on the Seattle market, right now.
2401 N Northlake Wy #E-1
Listing: Special Agents Realty
“PEACE” is a 560 sq-ft one-bedroom with a deck listed for $240,000 in the quirky and wonderful Wallingford neighborhood.
2219 Fairview Ave E #4 Seattle
Listing: Cooper Jacobs Real Estate
This unusually large three-bedroom floating property with a rooftop deck listed for $925,000 in Eastlake.
2143 N Northlake Wy Unit: 9
Listing: Special Agents Realty
For $490,000 you can hang out in this funky 1 bedroom houseboat in Ballard.
Sleepless in Seattle House
Photo: Rick Miner, Coldwell Banker Danforth via PSBJ
In the 1980s, heartthrob handyman Bob Vila visited Seattle and filmed an episode of This Old House about Seattle houseboats. Writer Jeff Arch saw the episode and was inspired to create the now iconic Tom Hanks/Meg Ryan romantic comedy, Sleepless in Seattle, reported Seattle Met Magazine. The houseboat from the movie was just sold last year. Loretta Metcalf and Jim Healy, who owned it for 21 years prior to the recent sale, reportedly originally paid $550,000 for the boat. The new owner bought the boat for over $2 million. He prefers to remain anonymous, but we know he works in tech and held his 50th birthday party on the boat, according to PSBJ.
If you are ready to climb aboard, the time is now. Floating homes are in high demand, reports the Seattle P.I. with three sales closing in the past sixty days. Let your reservations sail away and impulse buy one of these dream boats (sorry) before the apocalypse washes them all out to sea.