Living on a houseboat full-time, also known as “living aboard,” is an adventure many people dream of. Maybe you picture yourself being rocked to sleep by lapping waves or waking up with a cup of coffee on deck as the sun rises over water.
But what is full-time life on a houseboat really like? Are you living in a fantasy world with your houseboat dream? Or, could full-time houseboat living be the lifestyle for you?
Before you try out your wobbly sea legs, check out thing these 11 things you should know about living aboard a houseboat full-time.
1. Not Every Marina Allows Full-time Boat Living
Some marinas set aside areas for live-aboards, and may offer special rates for full-timers. Others have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, according to Ian Morton, creator of the informational website All About Houseboats. Check state regulations for houseboats and be honest with marina management about your plans to live aboard your boat.
2. Marina Costs Vary Widely
Depending on where you rent a slip, marina costs vary, from as little as $1,000 a year for a remote, small lake area to as much as $10,000 annually at a full-service marina with restroom and shower facilities, on-site laundry, dining, pool, security, mechanical services and other amenities. Slip rental cost is based on boat length. The longer your boat, the higher the rent.
3. You’ll Pay for Utilities
You’ll generally pay for water, electricity and sewage pump-outs if the marina is on a holding tank lake, according to YourNewBoat website. Electricity is usually billed separately, typically at a higher Kilowatt rate than an on-land home.
4. Houseboaters Love Lakes
Check out some popular lake destinations here.
5. Don’t Forget Insurance
This figure varies, depending on the type of houseboat and the owner’s boating experience. A late model houseboat that costs between $125,000 – $250,000) can run roughly $1,800 a year, according to Your New Boat.
6. Linus and Rambo Can Jump Onboard
Pets often live on houseboats, quickly becoming accustomed to the waterfront life. If you have a dog, make sure there’s an accessible and close dog walking area.
7. You Can Still Watch the Game and Get Online
Many marinas offer cable TV and Wi-Fi. When it comes to technology, “You won’t even notice that you’re not at your land-based home,” says Morton.
8. Don’t Expect Great Gas Mileage
Depending on the size of your boat, if you venture out on the water, estimate somewhere around 1 MPG, Morton says.
9. Houseboat Prices Vary Widely
You’ll find single and two-story, new and used houseboats and lots of old boats that seem like they could sink at any moment. To get an idea of what’s out there, check out sites such as BoatTrader and POP Yachts for used houseboats, many under $100,000. Traditional to modern “cottage” houseboats are priced from less than $200,000 to more than several hundred thousand dollars. Some people even build their own tiny house on top of a pontoon boat.
10. You’ll Need Storage
Houseboats don’t come with much storage space, so you’ll need to become a minimalist or rent a storage unit. Also, if you plan to live on land during the winter, you’ll want to store your houseboat in an appropriate storage facility.
11. Try Before You Buy
Still not sure about whether you’d love living on a houseboat? Get your feet wet first with a houseboat vacation before heading for full-time life on the water.