Seattle Press
Boating Opening Day
Houseboats: Catch the Wave
Remember when houseboat living was for the young and the restless? Dreaming about a place on the water in Seattle? Imagine hopping off your deck into a kayak and spending a few hours on the water communing with the ducks and the early morning rowers. Sipping coffee while you watch the Lake Union "duck dodge" sailboat races at eye level. Gardening in containers from every level. It's a special ambiance, and these days, an expensive one.

Here are a few statistics on houseboat real estate from the Northwest Multiple Listing Service.

Eleven houseboats available for sale, mostly around Lake Union, mostly on Fairview Ave East:

Price range: $89,000 - $1,200,000
Average market time: 72 days
Median Price: $369,000
Average Price: $447,181

Two houseboats pending.
Prices: $265,000 and $1,100,000
Average market time: 20 days

Ten houseboats sold between May 2000 and April 2001, mostly around Lake Union, mostly on Fairview Ave East:

Price Range: $250,000 - $585,000
Average Market Time: 59 days
Median Price: $375,000
Average List Price: $415,300

Houseboats range from 15 to 100 years old, and from one to three bedrooms. Most have just one bathroom but a few of the more expensive homes have two or three.

Moorage for houseboats can vary. Some docks are coop and some are condominium style, called "own moorage," and others are leased or rent moorage. Leased/rent moorage costs less than owned moorage.

Houseboat living "can't be explained, it can only be experienced," says Rick Miner, a Coldwell Banker Bain agent who lives on one houseboat and has a home office on another. Miner says that only 10 to 12 per year get sold, out of approximately 500 houseboats in Seattle. You can learn more about houseboats at his web site,

If you want to take a look at a houseboat neighborhood, take a drive down Fairview Avenue North or kayak around Lake Union, especially the Eastlake area, Fremont and the north end of Westlake Avenue North.


So, where can you park your houseboat? Around Lake Union, through the Ship Canal and up to but not including Shilshole Marina, there are about 2,500 slips leasing from $6.85 per foot for an open slip up to $10 for a covered slip. Prices at Elliott Bay Marina near Magnolia range up to $12.01 for pier-end space with metered electricity. (Figures are from the February issue of Northwest Yachting magazine.) Shilshole Marina has 1,500 slips.

A random sampling of Lake Union docks shows most have only one or two slips available as of April 27.

Moorage can be open or covered and available services vary. All marinas built after the early '80s are required to have pump-out available and utilities as well.

Many boat owners find living aboard is a great lifestyle. Currently, the live-aboard issue is popular with the city. A debate is going on questioning whether owners can live aboard their boats or not in the Seattle area.

New marinas are very rare; none have been built on Lake Union in the past ten years.