Are Houseboats Cheaper Than Houses?

A houseboat is a cabin consisting of one or two rooms that are normally built on a flat bottomed pontoon, drawing only 12 to 24 inches of water, having a porch at the end. Nowadays, houseboats have become increasingly popular, especially in regions having rivers or interconnected lakes where there can be good fishing activities and beautiful scenery. 

Houseboats are often used as summer homes and such houseboats normally have 4 spacious rooms along with a deck on top that is often shaded by awnings. The hull construction will normally still be flat bottomed. Some houseboats are permanently attached to a dock while most of them have motors and are able to be moved around as wanted. 

With all of that being said is a houseboat cheaper than a traditional house?

In general the purchase price and monthly costs of a houseboat is cheaper than buying a house in a similar location. That is because the purchase price of a houseboat is much less than a traditional house. Over the long term traditional houses will be a better financial decision as they won’t depreciate like a houseboat will but the purchase price and monthly expenses of a houseboat will normally be far less. 

In the rest of this article we will discuss in detail the differences between a house and houseboat as well give some cost comparisons between the two. 

Houseboats vs houses

Recently, the number of people that have decided to live in houseboats has been increasing rapidly. Houseboats are an appealing place to live for entrepreneurs, students, nature lovers, couples and retirees.

With so many people striving to get around the rising fees and costs that hiring lawyers and mortgage advisors call for, buying a home to them seems like an unrealistic dream. In such times, people have thought of something out of the box. They have widened their perspective and have searched for potential homes within their budget.

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In the last few years, many people have come up with the idea of living on s houseboat not because they offer open spaces but because they provide you with other benefits like waterside location, closer view of wildlife and a strong community feeling of like-minded houseboat lovers who have chosen to shift to a houseboat life. Below are a few of the reasons that some people have chosen to live in houseboats instead of traditional houses.

1. It’s a money saver

By moving to a houseboat, you get to escape the annual property taxes entirely. You will have to pay for the boat’s registration yearly but that is often much cheaper than property taxes would be. You will also save money on utilities as with a houseboat you will normally only have to pay the docking fees and utilities are often included in that small monthly fee. 

2. Houseboats Are Much Smaller

Houseboats are much smaller than houses. They are mostly around 500 sq. feet of living area so there is a huge difference between a 500 sq feet houseboat and a 2000+ sq ft. house. For some people, this is a great feature as they like the minimalistic style of living while to others it is a downside. 

Due to its small size, you will have to throw away some things you don’t HAVE to have as they eat up too much space. Also, on a houseboat, there will not be any grass or weeds to pull, no snow to shovel and no sprinklers that need to be fixed. You might plant a few plants in pots if you want to decorate your houseboat but you certainly won’t have to as the view outside the houseboat will probably be enough greenery. The best part of the view is that you don’t have to take care of it. You simply can enjoy it. 

3. Houseboats are affordable to purchase

Though this isn’t true in all cases it is true in most of them. You can get a brand new houseboat for $80,000 to $100,000, whereas for buying a 2000 sq. ft. house, you would have to pay approximately $200,000 to $300,00. Of course housing is cheaper in some areas than others so the price for a home might be more or less than that depending on where you live.  

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In almost all areas a houseboat will be cheaper to purchase than buying a normal house would be. 

4. Houseboats have less monthly costs

Houseboats have considerably smaller ongoing expenses than a normal house would. For anyone who stays in a high rent area, living on a houseboat is much more inexpensive than renting a conventional house and frequently it is even cheaper than renting an apartment. This is especially true when you understand that on a houseboat you all get to reside right on the lake! You would never be able to rent or buy a house on a lake for anywhere close to the costs of a houseboat.

Not only will you tend to save money on rent or house payments on a usual home, but also your monthly cost will be smaller!

With a houseboat, electricity, water, and sometimes even the internet is included with the houseboat’s harbor fees so you will save on some monthly expenses in that regard. You will have to pay for someone to pump out your septic tank on board your houseboat but that doesn’t need done but once every month or two and that will often be less expensive than the similar sewage costs at a traditional home. 

If you plan on using your boat on the water you will of course have to pay for fuel but taking your boat out for a bit won’t cost you a fortune and it is certainly something that you could never do with a normal home.

5. Houseboats can be decorated in your way

The houseboat, being your own personal space and house, you can certainly make changes and improvements to it. You can add a bigger window in your bedroom for enjoying a better panoramic view of the water or you could even install a solar panel system to help save on electricity or generator costs.  

Of course you can do this with a normal house as well but repairs or upgrades on a houseboat will not normally require any permitting and so it will save you money in that way too. 

6. Houseboats are more enjoyable

You can have more fun on houseboats than with an actual house and you get to enjoy living on the water!  Living amidst nature is something that many people will crave but few people can afford to do with a normal house. 

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Now, Living on a houseboat might not be fun for everyone. If you have a large family, then fitting into the small space will not be enjoyable at all! But Living on a houseboat is great for retirees, couples, students or even single people. You can enjoy amazing views, water sports, fishing and even see marine animals from the deck of your houseboat. Apart from these, you can also enjoy a wide variety of other things that will be special to everyone no matter how old they are. 

Since a houseboat is always on the water then you can enjoy fishing, water views, the scenic beauty, and the ambiance just a short distance from your living room, kitchen, or deck. It’s a blissful feeling to wake up every morning hearing the sounds of water and fish jumping. The cool revitalising morning mist will fill you with a refreshing feeling and helps you to start your day on a great note. The scenic beauty also allows you to enjoy a cup of morning coffee while soaking in the views! 


Everyone loves houseboats. You can have virtually everything you need in a boat. They’re spacious, have all the needed facilities, and are a great way of spending quality time with your loved ones too. Once you step onto a houseboat, you will undoubtedly keep wanting to find more time to enjoy on board. 

Living on a houseboat is normally cheaper than living in a traditional home when you consider the original purchase price as well as the monthly expenses. However since boats go down in value and houses normally increase in value then over time owning a normal home will be a better investment even though the original and monthly costs for a houseboat will be cheaper.

Matthew Robbs

I love the outdoors and especially spending time with my family. Whether on a boat or at the beach, my happy place is near the water.

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