Residents of informal settlements in Kathmandu, mainly those located in highly vulnerable areas such as riverbanks, are periodically threatened by floods during monsoon seasons. Informal dwellers also face exclusion from urban development policies which ignores the possibilities of adequate living conditions and a safe environment for them. Therefore, residents of riverbank settlements rely on self-help initiatives for the protection of their families. This paper examines household characteristics and socioeconomic parameters of riverbank informal settlers in Kathmandu and investigates how they perceive these factors influence their self-initiated flood adaptation. This paper is based on 40 door-to-door semi-structured interviews of the residents of three riverbank informal settlements located along the Bagmati river in Kathmandu. The findings based on residents' perceptions show complex relationships of self-adaptive behaviour with socioeconomic elements and household characteristics. The understanding of these complexities is beneficial in undertaking inclusive disaster management initiatives by governments to address the struggles of informal settlers ‘at risk’.