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Best "Boatnik" Marina Neighborhood 

Barnhill Marina

Call their funky-to-upscale dwellings "houseboats," and the residents of Barnhill Marina will quickly correct you, pointing out that their homes are motorless and can't leave their docks without a tow. They're "floating homes." There is a legal distinction. Each dwelling is only feet away from its neighbor, accessible only through common dock "sidewalks." The residents in the 41 floating homes use this closeness to their advantage. They hold holiday parties, barbecues, yard sales, and birthdays; help each other with repairs; and when one of their neighbors succumbed to pancreatic cancer, fielded a run/walk team raising money for the American Cancer Society. They stay civically focused with their regular newsletter. If it sounds like paradise, it's not far off. The neighborhood is quirky and picturesque, wildlife is right at their front doors, and views across the Oakland Estuary are gorgeous. But moving to the watery 'hood ain't cheap. A floating home costs about the same as a landlocked house. Add docking fees and boat upkeep, and the price tag goes up. The neighborly vibe, though, is priceless. 

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