Bay Area Floating Home Communities
What is a floating home?
Floating homes are residences built on top of a buoyant base that are permanently anchored in one location. Oftentimes, floating homes adorn eccentric layouts, and are often backed by interesting history. These floating homes and their communities offer a unique place to live and a special water-oriented lifestyle.
Floating homes are privately owned and each home maintains a lease with a harbor for their berth. Monthly berth fees start as low as $700.00 and go up from there. Financing options can be harder to come by and are more expensive than traditional home loans, but do exist.
Across the Bay Area there are five floating home communities:
- San Francisco – Mission Creek Channel
- Alameda – Oakland Estuary
- Point Saint Pablo
Considered the mecca for Bay Area floating homes, the Sausalito Floating Home community is made up of over 400 homes along the Richardson Bay waterfront.
Did you know that many of the Sausalito floating homes located in Richardson Bay are built atop old boats, ferries, and barges? During World War II, Sausalito’s Marinship shipyard was contracted to make “Liberty Ships” for the Navy. When the war ended and the shipyard closed people in the ’50s and ’60s, purchased the old boat equipment to “camp” and eventually built floating homes
The main marinas in Sausalito are:
- Galilee Harbor Marina
- Waldo Point Harbor
- Richardson Bay Marina & Gate 6 ½
The Sausalito floating home community has a star-studded history which has only strengthened its popularity over the years.
Otis Redding wrote “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” while staying at Bill Graham’s houseboat located on Main Dock in the Waldo Point Harbor. World-renowned Children’s author and poet Shel Silverstein owned a converted WWII balloon barge floating home called the Evil Eye which is located on Liberty Dock. Just to name a few!
There are only about 13 floating homes in Berkeley and they all reside in the Berkeley Marina. But there are about 90 other boats (power/sail) that operate as liveaboards. The floating home and the liveaboards have created a really close-knit community of about 150 residents.
San Francisco – Mission Creek Channel
If you are a Bay Area native or an avid SF Giants fan, you have probably heard of McCovey Cove. Maybe you have even been lucky enough to witness a Splash Hit which is when a home run ball actually lands in McCovey Cove! But did you know that if you navigate up the adjoining channel called the Mission Creek Channel you will find 20 or so floating homes? These homes have been there since the 60s and were actually relocated from Islais Creek two miles south.
Alameda – Oakland Estuary
Right across from the iconic Jack London Square you will find Barnhill Marina which is made up of 42 floating homes. In 1965, Barney Barnhill, a navy veteran, and contractor bought the marina and actually built the majority of the floating homes in the marina. If you are traveling down the Oakland Estuary via boat you can see many of the floating homes.
Point Saint Pablo
The location of the 1955 movie Blood Alley starring John Wayne and Lauren Bacall, Point San Pablo has a little bit of everything when it comes to a marina. With 10 floating homes and an array of other live-aboard boats, these residents are literally tucked away in an 80-year-old Richmond harbor. The harbor was purchased by new owners in 2017 and now faces some substantial infrastructure upgrades. Like the jetties, which were originally formed from the sunken hulls of 19th-century schooners, which need to be reinforced in addition to preparing the harbor for potential sea-level rise in years to come.
Interested in owning a floating home?
We are here to help! Owning a floating home is not for everyone but we do believe that it is difficult to beat this unique waterfront lifestyle. In addition to helping you navigate the buying process, we also have excellent contacts when it comes to financing, inspectors, and maintenance of these unique homes. Don’t hesitate to reach out via the contact info below.
Torben Yjord-Jackson – Realtor
EXP Realty of CA, Inc.
License # 02050831