At this point a number of you as readers are questioning as to whether or not you are reading about tiny houses or boats? Truth is you are reading about both. For too long tiny houses have been stereotyped as just being 16′ – 24′ trailers with cute, wooden structures bolted on top. They are so much more though with inspiration being drawn from historical dwellings and modes of transportable dwellings throughout history.
From the earliest viking boats and Chinese combat junks to the luxury liners of the 20th century live aboard vessels have shown us how to live in compact fashions under a number of variables including weather, air salinity, moisture, and energy efficiency. Beyond that though they have become the tiny house of choice for many. In fact, in the last US Census it was determined that just at 13,000 American citizens live full time aboard sea vessels. Some of these are bound to be houseboats and shanty boats for sure. A quick view of sites like SailBoat Listings shows no less than 250 sailboats and yachts for sale that feature entire living quarters for full time living. AirBnB shows some 53 sailboats and yachts in Florida alone that qualify as tiny houses.
Let’s return to the obvious though.
A houseboat is a boat that has been designed or modified to be used primarily as a home. Many are motorized but a number are not because they are usually moored or kept stationary at a fixed point and often tethered to land to provide utilities. Sound familiar?
As it is with tiny house trailers, Seattle, Washington is home to a relatively large collection of floating houseboats and even float house neighborhoods. 1905 saw the first recorded notice of houseboats in Seattle with that number peaking to 2,000 by the 1930s. As of 2012 there were just 500 occupied houseboats in Seattle proper.1 A lower number than the 20th century to be sure, but still a pretty impressive number considering how non-traditional they are.
For the more adventurous though life aboard a sailboat offers adventure, the high seas, an element of danger, a simple way of life, sunshine, and a number of other appealing elements. Perhaps Courtney Kirchoff says it best in her blogpost from Feb. 9, 2012:
“I also like the sound of the howling wind when a storm comes through; it feels as if I’m surviving something, like I’m somehow living on the edge, when really I’m docked and safe. Best of all, it’s nice to own my home without having to make large payments for the next 30 years, especially one with a million-dollar water view that can change if I so chose.”
And therein lies the tie that binds, so to speak, of live aboard boats as valid tiny houses. They offer the very same things that we have heard countless tiny house trailer and cabin dwellers say for years. There is freedom. There is safety. There is empowerment. There is home!
As the tiny house history series begins to wrap up it becomes even more obvious that tiny houses are not limited to foundations or trailers or pontoons or wheels or anything else. Tiny houses are a state of mind in many ways. They are the physical manifestation of a dwelling this fits the personality and mindset of someone who chooses to live a life outside of the “bigger is better” mindset of modern America.