The Beginner’s Guide to Houseboats

The Beginner’s Guide to Houseboats

9 min read

Ever heard of a houseboat? Well, if you haven’t, you’re missing out.

As the name suggests, houseboats are a type of boat that has been specifically created to act as a home. They’re pretty cool! They can be motorized, moored, or tethered. Some of them can even properly operate through their own power.

These boat homes come in all different shapes and sizes. Some are privately-owned, others can be rented for holiday purposes. Some people in the Europe Canal even live on them year-round!

 

What are houseboats used for?

As mentioned above, houseboats are specifically used for living in and act like homes. The only difference is that it’s a boat and you may be limited in terms of space. However, they offer a convenient shelter, especially when you’re out on holiday.

There are two main reasons for using houseboats: as a home or for recreation. Most people use houseboats for recreational purposes. You can also use a houseboat to store your stuff or as an alternative to an RV. A houseboat can really come in handy because it can help you save on vacation costs since it acts as a home.

 

What are houseboats made of?

There are a variety of materials that are used to make houseboats, which include fiberglass, wood, steel, and aluminum. These materials come with their pros and cons and it is essential for you to weigh them first before you decide the style of houseboat you want to be created.

You should also note that houseboats tend to vary in size and as we said earlier there are motorized houseboats and non-motorized ones. Therefore, it all depends on what you want; the design and idea of how you want your houseboat to be like.

 

Are houseboats safe?

Definitely! Houseboats are quite safe and it all depends on how you keep them. Similar to other vessels out there, a houseboat is as safe as you make it. This simply means that if you don’t take proper measures to keep your houseboat safe, you might end up endangering your life.

If you want to make your houseboat much safer, there are several things that you can do. They include keeping proper fuel storage, paying attention to the houseboat, having life jackets on board, having a carbon monoxide detector, and staying sober. You should also know how to swim properly if you’re staying in a houseboat.

 

Where can I live on a houseboat?

Living in a houseboat is quite fun, which is why most people live on houseboats during holidays. However, there is also the option of making it a permanent home, but you need to find an ideal place for that. There are many places where you can live in a houseboat.

The United States has 16 charming towns where you can comfortably live on a houseboat. These towns include Sausalito in California, Piermont in New York, Shasta Lake in California, Portland in Oregon, Fort Washington in Maryland, Hot Springs in Arkansas, and Brunswick in Georgia, among many other towns.

 

How much does a houseboat cost to buy?

So, how much do houseboats cost? This is a question that a lot of people ask, but it can’t be answered in just one sentence. One thing you need to know is that just like everything else on the market, houseboats also tend to vary in prices.

The price varies from one houseboat to another due to the material used to make it, its size, and also its brand. It is estimated that the average price of a houseboat is around $125,000 but it can go as high as $250,000. Therefore, it will depend on the deal you get from your seller.

 

Where to buy houseboats

Buying a houseboat is a big step and it requires you to think it out properly. The first thing you need to do is conduct thorough research on some of the best places to buy houseboats. You can check for online reviews or if you want to buy offline, you can ask around from people.

What you should ensure is that you are dealing with a reliable and trustworthy seller. Make sure the dealer has a good reputation and clients can vouch for them. The seller should also be legally registered and offer a warranty. When buying, make sure to check on the quality of the houseboat so that you can get value for your money.

 

What’s the cost of living on a houseboat?

If you’re thinking of living on a houseboat, it is essential to note that it also comes with its own expenses. In as much as houseboats help you to cut on costs, you will still spend a considerable amount of money living on them.

The cost of living on a houseboat can range from $2500 to $3000 per month. This is the estimated cost you should have to live on a houseboat year-round. If you come from a big where the average monthly costs of rent and utilities are between $3000 and $4000, this may be a huge bargain, which makes it worth it.

 

How much does it cost to rent a houseboat?

If you’re planning on renting a houseboat in the United States, you need to know that it doesn’t come cheap. However, it’s not as expensive as renting other things like Yachts and others. The rental rates of houseboats average about $750- $1,000 weekly.

What’s more, if you’re the one renting the houseboat, you are required to pay for additional operating costs like insurance and gas. As you can see, renting a houseboat doesn’t come easy, but it offers a lot of fun and makes it worth it.

 

Where to rent houseboats?

Are you thinking about renting houseboats for a vacation? There are several places where you can rent a houseboat in the United States and the good thing is that they come at an affordable price. However, if you’re just a beginner and don’t know much about houseboats, it is crucial to first familiarize yourself with them before renting.

Some of the top destinations where you can rent houseboats include Lake Cumberland in Kentucky, Lake Billy Chinook in Oregon, Crane Lake in Minnesota, Lake Powell in Utah/Arizona, Finger Lakes in New York, Lake Shasta in California, and Lake Havasu in California/Arizona, among many other places.

 

How much is houseboat insurance?

Yes, houseboats do require insurance coverage, just like any other thing. An insurance cover is quite important because it helps to safeguard you in case of any accidents. You should note that owning a houseboat can be quite costly. Therefore, when it comes to calculating the cost of insurance of your houseboat, it will depend on its price, condition, and also your history.

The average cost of houseboat insurance is from $500 to $2000 yearly for the basic package. That means the insurance cost can be higher for other premium packages and also if your houseboat happens to be expensive. It is advisable to speak to an insurance agent to confirm this information.

 

Can you get a mortgage on a boathouse?

It is possible to get a mortgage on a boathouse, but this won’t happen with a traditional mortgage lender mainly because they will be reluctant to lend on something which term that it could sail off and disappear. Therefore, this may force you to use a company that is in the specialist marine finance industry.

The only drawdown with this option is that loans that are meant for financing the purchase of floating homes tend to have a higher interest compared to the traditional mortgage option. Most banks shy away from these types of loans and due to lack of supply, the lenders that offer them on the market charge take advantage and charge high-interest rates.

 

Are houseboats cheaper than houses?

Fortunately, living in a houseboat is estimated to be quite cheap, compared to living in a normal home. The average yearly cost of living in a houseboat is approximately $6,000 and this is one of the main reasons why seniors choose to retire on houseboats. They help them save on costs and live inexpensive lives.

Although you won’t have to pay property taxes on a houseboat unlike in a traditional home, it is still quite costly to maintain a houseboat. The insurance of a houseboat itself is expensive.

 

Are houseboats expensive to maintain?

It can be said that it’s relatively affordable to maintain a houseboat, although this will vary depending on the one you’re using. If you happen to have a large houseboat, maintenance costs may be higher compared to a smaller one.

When choosing to live in a houseboat, you need to factor in the costs and other miscellaneous stuff such as insurance and daily or monthly costs. The average monthly maintenance or repair cost of a houseboat is around $1,000. However, you should note that this cost differs from one person to the other.

 

Are houseboats worth it?

Houseboats are definitely worth it. The good thing about them is that they are cheaper to buy and live in compared to a traditional home. It is estimated that having a houseboat can really help to save you money especially, on the monthly expenses.

In most parts of the world, rent prices tend to be high and the alternative of living on houseboats tends to offer relief from such an issue. Surprisingly, you can live a much cheaper life on a houseboat compared to a normal apartment in the city. Therefore, houseboats are totally worth it.

 

Are houseboats a good investment?

Unfortunately, a houseboat is not a good investment when we are talking specifically about monetary value because it tends to depreciate in value over time. Therefore, unless you’re talking about investment in something that will help you minimize rental or traditional house costs, houseboats are not ideal investments.

The worst-case scenario is buying a second-hand houseboat because it depreciates by 5 percent yearly. New houseboats depreciate by 15 to 20 percent after the first year of purchase, and then 5 percent yearly. This is quite drastic, which means that if you plan on selling it in the future you will just end up making a loss.

 

Do houseboats depreciate in value?

Yes, houseboats depreciate in value drastically. When you buy a used houseboat, it will depreciate in value by 5 percent yearly, and you also need to remember that you bought it at a cheaper price. That means in the next few years the houseboat will have an even lower value.

As we’ve mentioned above, new houseboats depreciate in value by 15 or 20 percent after the first year, and 5 percent every year. Therefore, if you buy a new houseboat and decide to sell it after a few years, you will end up in losses, unless you decide to renovate it to become brand new again – which will also cost you more money.

 

Can you live on a houseboat year-round?

Yes, it is possible to live on a houseboat year-round. In fact, most seniors have started to do so after retirement because it’s somehow cheaper than living in a traditional home. However, if your houseboat is in a place where the water freezes during the winter season, you may need to look for alternative accommodation when that happens.

However, there is a higher chance that you can live on a houseboat year-round comfortably and save on costs. Houseboats are quite efficient and don’t have a lot of costs except for insurance and other maintenance costs.

 

Can you take a boathouse in the ocean?

The unfortunate fact is that you cannot take houseboats to the ocean. Houseboats are only designed to stay on rivers, lakes, or intercoastal waters. Therefore, taking them to the ocean may not be such a good idea.

Houseboats are good for seeing country areas or other areas alike. It can be dangerous to take houseboats to the ocean and it’s highly not advisable. Therefore, you shouldn’t consider such a thing.

 

Are houseboats cold in winter?

Yes, houseboats are cold in winter, but they are more comfortable compared to normal apartments. Some houseboats are very well insulated during the winter and offer the best warmth.

For instance, houseboats in Amsterdam are well-insulated year-round and offer the best comfort and warmth during the winter. Therefore, this makes houseboats ideal even for winter even though they tend to be a bit cold.

 

Do houseboats move?

Houseboats are more like floating homes – they are what we call domiciles on the water. However, they can also be moved if you have a motorized houseboat. The good news is that they are self-propelled.

Therefore, since houseboats can move they do require proper maintenance to ensure that they are in good condition in case you want to take a stroll around the lake or river. Houseboats also tend to vary in design, since there are those that look like simple huts and others that resemble an RV.

 

Can you drive a houseboat?

Some houseboats are not meant to be moved, while others are designed to easily move. The movable houseboats are the ones with a functioning motor which you can easily drive, while the unmovable ones tend to be stationary and can’t move.

A movable houseboat is mobile and quite flexible, which means you can get it from one place to another. It relies on fuel to move and you can take it out on the open water.

 

Do houseboats have motors?

Yes, houseboats have motors but not all of them. As we said earlier, some houseboats are designed to move around, while others are designed to stay in one place. Houseboats with motors are mobile and flexible.

It’s easy to go around the lake or river with a motorized houseboat, but with a non-motorized one, you’ll be unable to do that. Therefore, you need to understand this difference before buying a houseboat to decide on the ideal one for you.

 

Do houseboats pay property taxes?

No, most houseboat owners don’t pay property taxes because these are fees that are usually paid by the marina. However, when you own a houseboat you will have to pay sales tax after the purchase.

You will also need to pay the insurance and slip or dock rental fees. Floating homes may also be required to pay the homeowners association fees. Therefore, these are some of the things that you need to keep in mind.

 

Do houseboats sink?

Yes, houseboats can also sink but it’s normally under abnormal conditions. Houseboats are some of the safest boats, but if subjected to high waves or a lot of weight, they can easily get flooded and sink. Therefore, exercise caution when living in a houseboat.

 

Do houseboats rock in the water?

Yes, houseboats rock and move along the surface of the water. However, stationary floating homes only rock less compared to houseboats and they are also designed to move around, in case you want to go sightseeing around the lake or river.

When there’s severe weather, there is a high chance that the houseboat might rock too much and cause seasickness issues. If you want to avoid such an issue, you can dock your houseboat at a marina.

 

Final thoughts

If you feel like you were born to live on the water, a houseboat may be right for you! If you found this article interesting, please feel free to check out my other post. I frequently write about small living spaces, whether they’re on land or water!

Victoria Miller

I'm the founder of NTT. I live in Miami, Florida, and enjoy learning everything there is to know about tiny spaces.