Where can I live on the water?
November 26, 2019 7:43 PM   Subscribe

I'm thinking about retirement and wondering where I can live that is on the water somewhere. Criteria ahoy...

I would love to own a retirement home on the water somewhere in the U.S. or Canada. A lake or ocean or canal or some body of water. Ideally it would come with a boat dock so I could get in my little boat and sail around said body of water, but I have also been in a house on the northern California coast that was overlooking the ocean and that was amazing too.

I am okay with this being a summer or winter home, since I can live for half of the year in California. I would be happy if it was a swing state so I could register to vote there but that is in the "nice to have" category. Budget is under 500K and ideally more like 300K. Any suggestions?
posted by Threeve to Home & Garden (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Port Charlotte, FL.
posted by justjess at 7:50 PM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Portland, Oregon has houseboats.
posted by aniola at 7:59 PM on November 26, 2019

There's definitely lake-adjacent locations in North and East Texas where I would love for you to take your swing vote. There's a lot of lakes, and I no longer remember the names of most of them, but I think there's still a good bit of sub-300K lakefront property there.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:01 PM on November 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

If you're thinking about the coast, you should think about sea level rise. Even inland water may deal with more flooding in the future. The houseboat idea could be a good solution, or something overlooking the water rather than with direct access.
posted by pinochiette at 8:01 PM on November 26, 2019 [8 favorites]

Seattle, of course, though affordability is a question. Lots of people live on boats, and there's a thriving houseboat community on Lake Union. Puget Sound is a huge, protected body of water and there are lots of communities that might be workable.
posted by lhauser at 8:05 PM on November 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Victoria, British Columbia would likely have good options. There are houses around the Gorge Waterway with boat docks. Not sure about prices, but I would be shocked if they were out of your range, especially since you would be buying in Canadian dollars. There are also float homes, like those on Fisherman’s Wharf, in the area. That would take your living “on the water” to a whole other level!
posted by saltypup at 8:17 PM on November 26, 2019

Bellingham, WA. It's got all the amenities of a big city (good food, good bars, culture) without the size, and it's far enough from Seattle that it's not getting Amazoned (in price or in culture) nearly as rapidly. Astoria, OR also fits that bill.
posted by pdb at 8:24 PM on November 26, 2019 [3 favorites]

There are tons of communities in Ontario where you'd be able to do this. Bigger bodies of water would be Georgian Bay or Lake Simcoe but there are many smaller lakes that are still pretty big.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 8:57 PM on November 26, 2019

Here's what I learned about houseboats in Portland, OR, specifically Jantzen Beach.

When I first moved to Portland I found a nice-sized 1-bedroom houseboat at the Jantzen Beach Moorage right on the Columbia River that I could buy for cash.

But the slip was leased at the time and the owner wanted to sell the slip. So yes, I could buy the houseboat for 50K but I'd have to buy the slip for $100K within a year.

It's harder to get a mortgage on a houseboat than it is to get a mortgage on a mobile home. Insurance costs will be sky-high.

I also looked into houseboats in Sausalito, CA and found similar challenges with much higher prices.
posted by bendy at 9:00 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

There are a ton of tiny lakes in the upper Midwest. "Land of Many Lakes" and all that. They range from tiny mud puddles to huge lakes with speedboats and everything in between.
posted by slidell at 9:11 PM on November 26, 2019 [7 favorites]

You can live on lake Michigan in Wisconsin for that.
posted by sulaine at 9:52 PM on November 26, 2019 [2 favorites]

Sunshine Coast in Canada, or northern Michigan (if there's one thing Michigan has a lot of, it's lakes).
posted by praemunire at 10:07 PM on November 26, 2019

Totally from TV and not from personal experience. Why not the scene of Ozark (the tv show)?
posted by Gotanda at 1:00 AM on November 27, 2019

Consider the interior of British Columbia, though you'd need to be prepared to go a fair bit farther afield for that budget to have waterfront. There are also a huge number of islands and inlets throughout coastal BC. It's winter and summer friendly, as well (though with some storms depending on location).
posted by lookoutbelow at 2:07 AM on November 27, 2019

Check out Elizabeth City, NC and the surrounding areas. It's on the water (the Albemarle Sound) and about 45 minutes from the Outer Banks (Atlantic ocean) and 45 minutes from Chesapeake, VA and Hampton Roads. There are houses on the water, slips for sale, and a ton of public launches.

Cost of living is incredibly cheap, houses are affordable (300K will buy you 2-3 nice houses or a bunch of land plus a house), there are several colleges in town (including historically-black ECSU), and it has great medical care either locally or up in Virginia due to the military bases.

NC holds the dubious distinction of being the most-gerrymandered state and is likely to go blue again with reasonable maps and progressive voters. Feel free to DM me if you have any questions for a local (here 7 years now).
posted by bookdragoness at 2:55 AM on November 27, 2019 [9 favorites]

You can do this in Palm Beach County, FL, especially if you're ok with a condo or townhome (see, e.g. here).
posted by Daily Alice at 4:25 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Welcome to your new home, the blue state inside florida, the sunshine city, st. Petersburg, fl. We'll see you at the next meetup!!
posted by chasles at 4:57 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

For 300K, you can have a lodge-style house on a private beach on lake Superior in Michigan's UP. Like, literally, walk out your front door and onto a dock or into the water on your own sandy beach. Not easy to get to, water not particularily warm in any months but July/August, but for that money, chances are you will have the nicest house in the neighborhood.
posted by Chrischris at 6:27 AM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

Beaver Lake, northwest arkansas would be worth a look. Near the Bentonville, Rogers, Fayetteville area, so there is an airport that has flights to and from California (or lots of other places). Beautiful area- large lake, also great restaurants etc with a 30 minute drive.

Not a swing state, but you can visit the Clinton museum. Some lake houses are quite fancy, but i think you could find something in your price range.
posted by domino at 7:14 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Since I too recommended northern Michigan I feel I should add the warning that it's effing cold in the winter.
posted by praemunire at 10:01 AM on November 27, 2019

Georgia could use your votes! And the northern part of the state will be relatively insulated from the worst effects of climate change! Just from the most cursory search, I turned up this batch of <$275K lakefront homes in the North Georgia Mountains. Scenic, feels remote, but the region is an easy drive from the Atlanta airport if you're going back and forth a lot. Also, fairly close to Asheville, NC and Charlotte, NC.
posted by witchen at 11:34 AM on November 27, 2019 [2 favorites]

Marked a couple that look particularly exciting but I'm going to look into all of these suggestions! Thank you so much!
posted by Threeve at 12:25 PM on November 27, 2019

I really enjoy coastal Alabama. In the bays that are off of the Gulf there are many properties available. The area east of Mobile Bay has the advantage of geography, in that there is a distinct rise to the land. This means that you can buy a property on a bay or creek that has a slope down to the water. Your home can be far enough above sea level to escape most storm floods, and also the inevitable water level rise. You can find culture in Mobile and Pensacola, and have the white sand Gulf beaches an easy drive from you.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 2:03 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

It will be a while yet before it's out of the clutches of the Republicans, but Arkansas has some really nice lakes with sufficient elevation change to make flooding nearly impossible. And you get to choose whether you like it busy or you prefer peace and quiet and surrounded on three sides by trees. Not to mention that it will seem stupidly cheap

It's not trending well politically, but it's small enough that it doesn't take many decent people moving in and voting to make a big difference in the balance of power since the political trend is as much driven by gerrymandering as any real change in the electorate.
posted by wierdo at 9:31 PM on November 27, 2019 [1 favorite]

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