Are Houseboats Expensive? Buying, Living & Repair Costs

Are Houseboats Expensive?

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Many people dream of living on a houseboat, no matter if it is only for the summer months or throughout the entire year. A houseboat can be exactly what you want. These floating houses come in all sizes and shapes and varieties and can accordingly accommodate a wide variety of people as well. However, one should never go to buy a houseboat without researching it. It can certainly be financially draining for you if you don’t go into the purchase or rental with your eyes wide open. 

There are certain tips that you should look for if you don’t want to completely destroy your budget.  Many people have realised that they have invested in the wrong place, after purchasing a houseboat and have regretted it. Many others have complained that they have paid more than they are worth. Some have even realized too late  how rapidly the repair costs would add up and blow their budgets entirely. 

So, are houseboats expensive? In general no one should purchase a houseboat until they have a lot of free spending money. The purchase price of the boat is just the beginning as there are many monthly expenses including dock fees, fuel, repairs, licenses and more. Renting a houseboat is also quite expensive but it is much cheaper than buying a houseboat especially if you will only use it a couple of times a year. 

Before you buy a houseboat or rent one long term you should consider all of the possible expenses that you might encounter and make sure that you can afford them before you ever go look at purchasing a houseboat. 

Houseboat Expenses to consider

For most people who love to enjoy the thrills of life, Living on a houseboat and enjoying life on the water isn’t only pleasurable but also exciting. People love to wake up to the sounds of birds chirping, fish jumping into the water and finding yourself surrounded by the beauty and serenity of nature. The very sight of nature in the morning rejuvenates many people’s thoughts and waking up peacefully can just start your day off right!

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However, every joy that a houseboat provides comes with a price. Every houseboat owner has to pay a price starting at the ownership costs to other recurring expenses that they have to bear. Now, whether you can afford these costs is what you have to find out before ever considering buying a houseboat. Some answers that you need to know are how much does living on a houseboat cost? What expenses could you have with a houseboat? How fast do they depreciate? 

Repairs Are Expensive

There are certain tasks to be done for maintaining your houseboat like oil changes or changing the belts that can be done by yourself. But there are some tasks for which you will have to contact a service department or call a marine mechanic, which results in extra expenses. The rates of those people range from $65 to $ 90 per hour. 

Your boat will also need regular upkeep including painting, sealing, etc. on the exterior on top of all the engine upkeep and repair. All of these repairs and maintenance tasks will cost you a decent amount of money and that can seriously add up over time. 

Transport costs are expensive 

If you have bought a houseboat from another state, it has to be transported to your location which means you will have to pay for transportation costs. Such costs can be quite expensive and depending on how far you are moving it can be into the tens of thousands of dollars. 

You will also have transportation costs when moving your houseboat from lake to lake or if you pull it out of the water during the wintertime that will cost you something as well. Again, you will want to figure out how much that it will cost you and make sure you can afford these additional costs.

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Additional expenses

Buying a houseboat isn’t all of the expenses that you will have. You will also have to incur some additional costs when you are living on board. You must be aware how much these payments are and when to expect them. Some of these expenses are: boat payments, dock or slip fees, an HOA fee, gas costs like buying propane tanks to cook food, fuel expenses if you wish to go anywhere on your houseboat, sewer dumping fees if you call an individual for the job and houseboat maintenance fees. Living in waters, you must make sure that everything is working promptly. 

Sales Tax

Don’t forget to figure out your sales tax cost as well. This can become a major addition to your purchasing price so be sure and figure it into the total.  However, some areas are exempted from paying sales taxes. So check and verify if your location is included or excluded. 

Operating Costs

Within your budget, you should also include day to day expenses in food or other amenities. Expenses might come from replacing damaged parts or purchasing items like ropes, types of equipment, cables, fenders, engine rebuilds, etc. If you choose to buy a used houseboat, you will have to incur costs on renovating certain parts. Your expenses depend on whether you are restructuring damaged parts,  conducting major repairs, upgrading your types of equipment, or acquiring new ones. 

Houseboat depreciation costs

Any kind of floating boat tends to depreciate rather quickly. Within the first year, they might depreciate by 20%. But the rate of depreciation afterward might slow down to 5 to 10% per year. The fact here is boats are not considered to be appreciating assets like a normal house would be. This is where houses have an edge over houseboats. 

If you buy a cheap used houseboat and fix it up you can stave off some of the fastest depreciation but eventually all boats will depreciate so that is an important thing to consider. 

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Purchase price

If you are thinking of settling down in a houseboat amidst waters, you need to know at what price does this come. The price depends on several factors like the age, size, standard of the houseboat and is different in different countries. For example, an Australian has a different perception of a houseboat than someone living in Hong Kong. Again, lake houseboats are quite different from marine houseboats or seafaring houseboats. Size is one of the factors that affect the price of your houseboat. 


While living on a houseboat, you should expect to incur expenses for mooring, maintenance, sewage disposal, slip rental, etc. Besides this, the country and the location where you wish to live also plays an important role in deciding costs. For example, maintenance costs are more in Singapore than in Thailand. 

Other factors like air conditioning you use during the summer months will also add to your expenses. If you have fitted solar panels and composting toilets then your monthly expenses will be less but you will have to spend more money originally.  All of these will be included in the amount that you have to spend on owning and maintaining your houseboat. 

First-time buyers of houseboats often overlook all of the aspects that are involved in purchasing and operating a houseboat. I hope that the above information has been helpful for you in comprehending the large amount of hidden houseboat costs. Going through it you will come to know that owning a houseboat has far more costs associated with it than many people believe. 

While calculating your houseboat budget, don’t forget to take into consideration all of these expenses. Once you have an idea about the costs and expenses, it is only then that you should proceed to buy a new or a used houseboat. 

If you know of someone who already owns a boat ask them for a list of the expenses that they have for their boat. This should give you a pretty comprehensive list of what exactly to expect when you own one too. 

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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