Living in sailboats
There are many ways to live on the water, including living in sailboats, yachts, cabin cruisers, houseboats and more conventional-looking homes built on floats.
The National Marine Manufacturers Association's Discover Boating website says that a vessel qualifies as a residence under tax rules if it has basic living accommodations that include a place to sleep, a toilet  and a place to cook.
Here's a look at modern and traditional houseboats, as well as where they reside.

 Boat as second home
Different boats are suited for different applications, says Terry Aff, president of Stardust Cruisers. His company, based in Kentucky, makes luxury cabin cruisers with flat decks and roomy interiors. Most people who buy them consider them second homes.
 Tight quarters
Compared with other houseboats, Aff says, cabin cruisers are faster, smaller and better suited for rough water. But living space is more limited.
All aboard
Some Stardust houseboats are 100 feet long, and all come with the comforts of home, such as fully equipped kitchens.
 Home, home on the lake
Vandeventer + Carlander Architects LLC built this 2,824-square-foot floating home in 2008 on Seattle's Lake Union to offer panoramic views of downtown to the south, Queen Anne Hill to the west and Gas Works Park to the north.
Rooftop access
The firm's clients wanted a contemporary home suited for comfortable living and entertaining. To that end, the house's public space is on an upper level. A spiral staircase links it to a rooftop deck.
Terrace view
The master bedroom of this Seattle floating home has a private terrace. Another terrace for entertaining is accessible via a sliding wall and expands the living space while blurring the distinction between outside and inside.
The MetroShip
British-born designer David Ballinger set out to develop an alternative to conventional houseboats, which he describes on his website as having an "RV of the sea" aesthetic, with "built-in cabinets and cheap finishes." He wanted something "like an updated Frank Lloyd Wright home, but with an open New York loft-condo style mixed with a mid-century Joseph Eichler home, post-and-beam style." His company, Ballinger & Co., developed the MetroShip with that goal in mind.
Luxurious living
The MetroShip, which is 48 feet by 12 feet, is dubbed the "Original Modern Houseboat" on its website. Designed for a hip houseboater, the MetroShip can feature a kitchen with Viking and Gaggenau appliances, a Danish sound system and high-definition televisions, among its many luxuries.

Its base price is $239,000, but models can exceed $3 million.
Big wheels keep on turning
Kevin and Linda Bagley of Special Agents Realty in Seattle did not originally intend to live on a houseboat full time, Kevin Bagley says. They made their first visit to the 72-foot, three-story paddle-wheeler only because a client was interested in it.
The couple wound up buying the 1,250-square-foot boat as a weekend home. But then they realized they kept finding excuses to stay for another night or two after the weekend was over. So the Bagleys sold their house and moved into the boat, which they named the KevLin.
Hybrid houseboat
Hybrid technology has come to the automotive industry, and houseboat manufacturers also have embraced alternative fuel sources.
Destination Yachts, based in Montgomery, Ind., recently built a houseboat called the Aqua Knotty that is powered by gasoline and hydrogen from fresh water. This reduces the boat's fuel costs and also cuts emissions, the company says.
Bringing the outside in
Most houseboats boast great water views, but this modern floating home on the Columbia River near Portland, Ore., goes a step further.
One glass-clad wall can be raised like a garage door, turning the living room into an open-air porch at the push of a button.
Meet your neighbor, the Columbia River
This two-level, one-bedroom houseboat offers 1,331 square feet of living space.
A different kind of garage
One drawback of living on the water is that you lose the convenience of having an attached garage for your car. But this one-story, floating home in the Multnomah Channel in Scappoose, Ore., offers some consolation.
Although you'll have to park your car on land, the 566-square-foot house includes covered parking for your boat.
Community relations
Some floating-home communities, including this one in Seattle, have struggled to live down a renegade image born in the 1960s and 1970s, when many houseboat-owners were seen as squatters on lakes and other bodies of water. In some cases, residents formed neighborhood groups to support these closely knit communities and have opened their homes to tours that show what living on the water is really like.
Visitation rights
The Sausalito, Calif., Floating Homes Association hosts a tour each September as an outreach and to raise money for local charities and for buying items such as firefighting equipment for their community. Because of the proximity of fuel and oil, docks frequently have their own firefighting tools.
The event attracts about 1,200 guests each year, according to a Sacramento Bee article.
Colorful past
Sausalito houseboats opened to guests in recent years include a 90-year-old tugboat turned party boat turned residence that was once home to 1940s and '50s actor Sterling Hayden. Others include several three-story boats and some with eccentric designs and colorful owners. Boats with names such as Train Wreck, Spanish Galleon, the Whimsey and the Dragon Boat line the docks.
Rental options
Unsure if floating life suits you? Rent a houseboat.
Vacation rentals are available at various locations around the United States, says Matt Harvey, chairman of the Houseboat Industry Association and regional vice president of Forever Houseboats. Harvey's company builds houseboats and also rents them.
The company's largest boat is 18 feet wide and 75 feet long. It has six bedrooms, 2.5 baths, a hot tub, nine television sets and a barbecue grill.
Try them out
These boats, available for rent from Forever Houseboats, are at the Callville Bay Resort & Marina in Nevada's Lake Mead. The Forever Houseboats catalog describes the location as "550 miles of pristine shoreline" and "within an hour of the entertainment capital of the world," Las Vegas.
The company also rents houseboats for vacation and longer periods in Lake Powell in Arizona; Lake Berryessa, Lake Oroville, Trinity Lake and Don Pedro Lake in California; Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri; Lake Amistad in Texas, straddling the Mexico border; and Lake Mohave in Nevada.