Living On a Floating Home : A Relaxing and Peaceful Lifestyle
I've had the dream of sailing around the planet ever since I had a huge map of the world wallpapered next to my bed in my childhood bedroom. I would lay awake at night staring at the vast areas of blue and daydreaming about sailing. As I grew up and went about a normal life, the dream seemed to slip away. I went to college, got a job, rented an apartment in the suburbs, and started to "settle down".
Then, about four years ago I though, "What am I doing?! I used to have a dream ..."
But I couldn't just up and leave my life, even though I wanted to. However, I wasn't content in waiting the next few years saving up money and just dreaming about living on the water. And then, one day while walking along the waterfront in Portland, I looked across the way and noticed there were these houses ... right on the water.
I had never considered living on a floating home before, and I really didn't know that much about them, but I was a bit intrigued, and decided it was worth looking at. I went down to the docks where I knew there was a floating home community and saw that there were, indeed, some houses for sale.
Floating homes come in a wide array of sizes, shapes, styles, and price ranges. I was expecting little shacks with hand pumps for water ... what I found instead were full fledged homes, just like the ones you'd find on solid land ... only they were floating on logs! That was the ONLY difference! They were hooked up to the public sewer, had electricity and gas hookups, cable internet ... everything you could have in a "normal" home you could have on a floating home.
But the lifestyle ... words can't describe it.
Life on the Water
After looking at a few floating homes, I fell in love with this little 430 square foot shack. It had a ton of charm, and a ton of potential. It needed a lot of fixing up - but for a single guy in his early twenties, I couldn't have asked for anything better. It was a little slice of paradise that would alter my life and change me forever.
After moving in I was instantly transported to a different type of lifestyle. In this life, neighbors come home on their lunch break to have a margarita on the dock. An endless stream of sailboats and powerboats would lazily drift up and down the channel, providing the illusion that I was always on vacation somewhere. I bought a small fire pit and placed it on my deck. It became a nightly ritual to have a small fire, maybe roast a hot dog, and wave at the beautiful boats going by while sipping on a corona in my lounge chair. The people down here call it "Dock Magic" and it truly is.
When I think back to my apartment days, or visit my friends who still live on land, I find it hard to put into words how amazing it is to live down on the water. I just can't fathom living on land ever again. I get asked a lot of questions like, "Doesn't it get cold in the winter?" or "Don't you get sick of the rain?" (Its always rainy in the winters here). My response is simply that I have a heater to keep me warm, just like anywhere else, and that the rain is far more beautiful to watch falling on the river than on the asphalt of a cul-de-sac. The soft movements of the dock and the comforting sounds of the sailboats tied up to their moorings is a constant reminder of the natural world around me.
And everyone is affected by the "dock magic". My neighbors are always happy, calm, and smiling. There have been very few times when I have encountered a "grouchy" person living in this wonderful community. And the access it gives you to enjoying things right outside your door that you just can't find anywhere else...
People fish right off their front porch. On nice mornings I get up and go for a ride in my kayak, enjoying the early morning calm and silence. I have a small 22' sailboat now, and its tied up right to my house. In the summer I sleep on-board her more than in the house ... simply because I can and its wonderful. The sounds of people laughing around their fire pits echos across the water in the summer, and not a single person down here ever misses a sunset.
Dock magic is something I can never live without now ...
The things that ARE different ...
Storage space can be an issue sometimes. I think that has more to do with my own home then floating homes in general, but I don't seem to mind. In fact, living in a smaller house in such an amazing location has helped me weed out a lot of the things that I just don't need. Its almost as if I had collected junk in order to fulfill an aspect of life that was missing ... and the river simply replaced it all! Its also great training for when I do eventually buy that sailboat and move on-board.
You have to be very aware of your float (the foundation of your house, and the part that keeps you from becoming part of the river). Some are built of logs, others old barges, and some a mixture of both. I had no idea what my float was when I purchased my house and moved in - but I quickly learned that paying attention to it is essential for living a good life here. One of the most obvious ones that I didn't even think about until I had moved in was leveling. After I had moved all my furniture in, the house slightly tilted to one side. Not enough to notice when just looking at it ... but my pens definitely rolled down the counter when I set them down. Whenever you move a lot of weight around, its best to have someone come out and place some foam blocks under you to keep you level!
Walking up and down a ramp every day can really give your legs a workout, depending on the height of the river. As the river goes up in the spring, the ramp becomes less of an angle and the walk gets easier. As the river goes down in the summer and fall ... well lets just say you'll definitely see an improvement in the definition of your leg muscles!
But, other than those things, life on a floating home is pretty much the same as life on land ... only right outside your door you have a river!
Come live the "Dock Magic"
Living on a Floating Home has truly impacted my life in ways I never thought a home could. There is just something about being so close to the water and nature. The opportunities and ease of access living right on the water brings ... I would never have been able to simply go sailing anytime I wanted to, or kayak when the sun was up, or sit outside having a campfire next to a river anytime I felt like it. Its just an amazing amazing life style.
So, if you're tired of where you're living or are thinking of moving soon - take a look down on the waterfront of the river or bay you live near. Walk down a ramp or two, sit on the dock, look at the water, and ask yourself if living in "dock magic" is something you want.
You'll say yes.