House Boat: Everything You Need Know

What is a houseboat?

A houseboat is a house floating on the water. You have all amenities like a regular house but live on the water.

How many types of houseboats?

My understanding of a houseboat should be you can live on it as a house and at the same time, you can use it as a boat. but the reality is there are two types of houseboats: cruising and non-cruising.

A cruising houseboat is one you can use as a boat cruising around the water, non cruising houseboat is static, the houseboat stays at the same spot and can not move around.

The static houseboat is either built as a residence or the engine is broken and non-repairable.

How expensive is a houseboat?

Houseboat prices are just like regular house prices, the range is very broad. You can purchase a small houseboat as cheap as a couple of thousand dollars or a luxury one as expensive as several million.

The average price for a decent houseboat is around $100,000~$200,000.

If your budget is tight, renting a houseboat is a great option too. The average renting price is about $300 per night. The rental price fluctuates on the season, location, etc. Summer season and some hot spots do cost more to rent.

Is living in a houseboat cheaper?

Many people choose to live in a houseboat because they believe that living in a houseboat is cheaper than living in a regular house. It may not be the case if you calculate all costs associated with living in a houseboat.

Below is a list of the possible costs associated with living in a houseboat

  • Gas
  • Marina boat slip
    • The average price per foot is $12~$18, so a covered 44′ wet slip will cost roughly $7500 per year
  • Maine fuel
    • Average houseboat cruise at speed 8~10 miles per hour, and approximately use 2~4 gallons per hour
  • Houseboat Insurance
    • Your boat insurance is approximately 1.5% of your boat value
    • A $20,000 boat is about $300 annually
  • Miscellaneous
    • Utility bill
    • Pump sewer tank fee
    • Boat maintenance fee

Can you live on your boat in a marina?

Yes, you can if the marina permit liveaboard. Some marinas do not let people live aboard.

Living at the marina provides many conveniences. You do not need to worry about your boat drifting away, you have access to amenities such as electricity, freshwater, WIFI, and restaurants.

The inconvenient part of living in a marina is the high slip cost, and the noise of the boats getting in and out.

Can you live permanently on a houseboat?

It depends on where you want live. Based on there are 16 places around the U.S where you can live aboard long term. Such as Sausalito and Shasta lake in California, Fort Washington, and Annapolis, in Maryland, Piermont in New York, Corpus Christi in Texas, etc.

Pros and cons of living in a houseboat


  • Do not need to mow grass, yard maintenance
  • Do not need to pay property tax
  • Spectacular view of the lake or river
  • Far away from the city and people
  • Move from place to place easily


  • Do not have so much space as a regular house
  • Away from the grocery store
  • High slip cost for liveaboard

Here is a detailed video to walk you around a custom build houseboat

Can a houseboat travel in the ocean?

If your houseboat focuses on living and has many house features, such as big windows, and many furniture then it is not suitable to travel in the ocean.

But if your houseboat is a 30 feet or 40 feet sailboat such as J/boat, Nautor Swan, or Hallberg-Rassy, then, of course, you can cruise in the ocean. Because these boats are seaworthy, with sturdy structures, a good size water tank, gas tank for a long voyage.

How safe are houseboats?

Generally speaking, houseboats are safe because the most time you are docking your boat at the marina. Many marinas have a gate. You need to have a key or password to enter the dock.

Living at the marina is just like living in a regular house. You have electricity, fresh water hooked on and also WIFI.

The only unsafe time is during hurricane season. Extreme weather does damage the boat on the dock.

How long do houseboats last?

The average boat’s life span is 25 years. Nowadays with more and more boats using fiberglass as the hull material so the lifespan of a boat can be 30 to 50 years.

The primary condition to decide how long a houseboat last depends on how good is the boat constructed, and how regularly is maintained. Where you dock the boat and how often you use it also play a vital part to decide your boat’s life expectancy.

Where is the best place to live on a houseboat?

  • Shasta Lake, California
  • Sausalito, California
  • Hot Springs, Arkansas
  • Fort Washington, Maryland
  • Lake Havasu, Arizona
  • Portland, Oregon
  • Miami, Florida
  • Corpus Christi, Texas

Are houseboats worth it?

If living on the water is your dream life then it is worth it. But do remember that doesn’t matter what kind of boat you have, there is an endless job that needs to be done on this boat.

You need to evaluate your lifestyle, and your financial situation before jumping on a houseboat.

I would suggest starting by renting a houseboat and experiencing life in a houseboat during the weekend to see how you and your family like it. If the interesting part of living on the boat overrun the inconvenience then go for it. After all, you only live once.

Personally, I like a boat that can live in and also at the same time can cruise around the water. In my opinion that a static houseboat has all inconveniences of living on a boat but no fun part of boating around.

here is a good video on houseboat-buying guidance

You might also like the below articles

Why People Hate Hunter Sailboat?

Everything You Need to Know About J Boats (With Prices)

Island Packet Yachts: 5 Things You Should Know

Hallberg-Rassy: 9 Questions Answered (For Beginners)

Nautor Swan: 7 Questions Answered (For Beginners)

Offshore Boat: 7 Beginner’s Questions(Answered)