Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Life in a floating home

Ringo Starr sung that he'd like to be under the sea, in an octopus's garden, in the shade.

I'm also a fan of unconventional living spaces. However, I'd like to be just above the sea, in a floating home, in False Creek to be exact.

We recently returned from a short trip to Vancouver for a sailing lesson (my recent excuse for lack of blogging). On the first day of our lesson, I was blown away by the beautifully-designed floating homes we sailed by - their colours, the big windows and great rooftop patios.

Here are a few shots I took...

These two were my favourite - due to their aforementioned big windows (there's really nothing but windows on the water side here) and expansive patios.
This is the view the homeowners had of False Creek on Labour Day weekend. 
As luck would have it, I picked up Vancouver Magazine at our hotel, and there was an interesting article about life in a floating home - including the pros and cons.

The cons of living in a floating abode?
  • Logs can get lodged under the homes, and if one remains there when the tide drops, it can act like a lever under your house. Yikes.
  • In rare cases, houses have become detached from their moorings and started floating away - making for an interesting rescue mission for the neighbours.
  • The water around the homes has been known to claim car keys, cell phones, sunglasses, patio furniture, planters and the occasional pet cat.
  • Severe storms, combined with lack of shelter from trees and other buildings, can result in homeowners seeking temporary shelter on dry land.
  • Some people get seasick.
  • There tends to be a lack of storage.
  • There is an unfortunate need to purchase tsunami insurance.
  • Some marinas have hefty mooring fees - which can range from $800/month into the $1000s depending on your location.
  • Other hits to your bank account include: insurance rates that double or triple the norm for houses on land, the requirement to have your mortgage CMHC insured regardless of your down payment, and higher mortgage rates.
But more importantly, the pros:
  • Despite the high mooring fees, the actual cost of the homes tends to be quite reasonable - especially compared to nearby homes on land in Vancouver.
  • Great locations - the floating homes in the pictures above are a stone's throw from the Granville Island Market. Just hop in your boat and cruise on over to get your groceries. Bliss.
  • The great views and sunsets
  • A sense of community
It's the sense of community that trumps all the cons for me. The article quotes a man named Randy who moved from a house in Surrey to a floating home in Ladner,

"In Surrey, we didn't know any of our neighbours; here we know all of them."  He adds, "Somebody said when you come through the gate, it's like stepping back into the '50s."

Owners of these homes get together for boat trips, book clubs, knitting nights, and even knot nights.

I've already contemplated just where this would work in Saskatoon, and I've come up empty-handed. The Saskatchewan River just wouldn't cut it - especially with our crumbling riverbanks. Perhaps a weekend on a houseboat on Lake Diefenbaker will tide me over for awhile.

To read the whole article in Vancouver Magazine, click here.

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