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Is being a Seattle liveaboard a viable alternative to steep housing costs?

Lack of affordable housing may be pushing Seattle residents to living on a boat. (Photo by Ben Koorengevel on Unsplash)

Living on a boat has long been a fantasy for many in the Pacific Northwest. It offers the chance to escape hectic city living, and exchange it for hectic water living. But in the wake of rising housing costs in town, becoming a Seattle liveaboard may be less of dream, and more of a viable financial option, reports The Seattle Times.

RELATED: Is Seattle’s restrictive zoning worsening the lack of affordable housing?

“If you want to avoid the crazy housing market,” said KIRO Radio’s John Curley. “And you don’t mind living in about 80 square feet, and living in something that smells like an old saxophone case, you could live on a boat.”

Port of Seattle officials are reporting that demand to live like the characters in “Waterworld” has more than tripled since 2014. The lack of affordable housing is likely playing a major role. Patch reports that the average rent in Seattle is about $2,000 a month, and according to a recent report by Redfin, more of its site’s users are looking to leave Seattle than move here.

Seattle liveaboard

Since many of those leaving Seattle never venture far, typically opting for nearby places like Snohomish or Pierce counties, becoming a liveaboard is just another way to stay close to home, with one foot on land and one in water, so to speak. Living in the air is unfortunately not a option — yet.

“There’s always been an appeal,” said KIRO Radio’s Tom Tangney. “It’s not the most luxurious of lifestyles. But you do have unbelievable views, and you’re on the water … You could live in Ballard on a boat for a heck of a lot cheaper than a condo or a house in Ballard itself.”

As tempting as it is to be a Seattle liveaboard, you’ll have to wait in line. It can take up to three years to get a spot at Ballard’s Shilshole Marina, where there are about 350 slips, and more than 500 residents. The average cost for moorage rates can range from $406.22 for a 30′ slip size to $1,059.57 for 60′ rental, not to mention the cost for insurance, maintenance, and septic tank pump outs.

So while living on the Seattle waterfront looks great in “Sleepless in Seattle,” the added costs, cramped living, and long wait times may cut into the fantasy just a bit.

“If you don’t mind that your arm hair smells like diesel,” joked Curley.

“That might be a positive, I don’t know.”

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