There are about 1400 floating homes in the Portland metro area, making this the largest collection of floating homes in the United States. The Greater Portland Area has over 30 moorages for floating homes. Many of the top facilities, along with their monthly fees for slip ownership, are located on this page. Many tight-knit communities have formed along the Willamette and Columbia including those around Sauvie’s Island and Scappose.
Floating homes are defined as permanent residences, generally with attached utilities like water and electricity, while houseboats usually have motors and can be routinely moved. Boathouses, of course, are houses for boats.
The Portland region has more floating homes than Seattle or San Franciso. Hayden Island alone has four moorages for floating homes, including West Hayden Island Moorage, with 57 floating homes, on the far west side, Jantzen Beach Moorage, Inc, the largest with 176 Floating Homes (south of Home Depot), Island Cove Floating Homes with 55 units (just west of Lotus Isle Park), and Tomahawk Island Floating Homes with some 72 community members (east of Lotus Isle Park).
Floating home moorages are scattered along the Oregon and Washington riverfront. They extend up and down both the Columbia and Willamette Rivers.
Several moorages are near Blue Lake, on the Columbia along Marine Drive (below).
Multnomah Channel, a 22-mile branch of the Willamette River, also has many floating homes. It diverges from the main stem, south of Kelly Point Park and flows around Sauvie Island to meet the Columbia near the city of St. Helens.
Floating home ownership is similar to manufactured homes. You buy the residence but rent the property. All floating homes have to be moored somewhere, explains Oregon-floating-homes.com and all moorage facilities have corresponding monthly maintenance fees, which include your utility costs (electricity, water, sewer, garbage, etc.) as well as other fees.
Floating homes aren’t for everyone, reports the Oregonian. Although many people living on the water say they never want to move back to dry land, others grow weary after a few years of hauling groceries down the ramp and walking garbage back up.
Another floating house drawback is space. The floats are parked about 10 feet apart – you have to like your neighbors and their music. Most moorages do not have garages, and scarce carports and storage units have rent wait lists.
Homeowners association fees range from $200 to $600 a month. Moorage rental fees are about $500 to $750 per month. An inventory of publicly-accessible marinas and related facilities is found in the Oregon Marine Guide.
There are two basic types of moorages that are available – rental moorages, and homeowners’ association moorages. In the case of a homeowners’ association moorage, you would actually buy the slip (buy the “water lot” where you dock your home) and as a result of owning your slip, you would typically have a correspondingly lower monthly maintenance fee.