Can Houseboats Be Moved?

One thing that many houseboat beginners wonder about is whether a houseboat can be moved. In this article I will help answer that question. 

There are different types of houseboats some that can be moved and some that are built to be stationary and never move. The most common type of houseboat is movable and can be taken out on the lake, river, or whatever body of water the houseboat is located on. 

Each type of houseboat has a different purpose so while the ones that move are more common the stationary houseboats also are used extensively as a place of residence rather than for recreation.

Stationary Houseboat 

A stationary houseboat is one that is built to float on the water but is not designed to be moved. This stationary style houseboat is often built on a piece of land that is owned by a person and used as their primary residence.

 A stationary houseboat will normally not have motors and it will be permanently secured to a dock or other permanent structure. A stationary houseboat isn’t as common as a regular houseboat as many people prefer to have a houseboat that moves. 

Movable houseboat 

Most houseboats in the world will be the type that can be moved around. Even houseboats that never move often “can” be moved. One of the reasons is a houseboat loses many of its advantages under the laws if it is a permanently docked stationary boat. 

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For example. If you are building a houseboat then the laws are relatively lax in regards to what you have to do to abide by local building laws. In most places you just have to abide by the laws set forth by the coast guard and don’t have to follow local building laws. 

In many places if your houseboat doesn’t move you it is no longer considered a boat and you have to abide by local housing laws which are far more strict. 

Another reason that most houseboats are movable is they are mainly used for recreation. People looking to have fun on the water will want to be able to move to the best beaches, the best fishing spots, etc. so moving is important. 

Houseboats that move will also allow you to go up or down river if the weather is better in a different location as well as allow you to anchor in more scenic areas depending on the time of the year.  

Can Houseboats Be Moved Out of the Water? 

Another aspect to moving a houseboat is whether they can be moved out of the water or if they have to stay in the water year around. 

The short answer is yes, a houseboat can be moved in and out of the water but just because it can be done doesn’t mean you necessarily will want to move your houseboat in and out of the water. 

The larger your houseboat is the less likely it will be that you will want to move the boat out of the water. Not only does the difficulty greatly increase as the size of the boat goes up but so does the expense of moving the boat out of the water! 

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If your houseboat is of trailerable size then moving it out of the water for wintertime is certainly possible and often cheaper than paying dock fees over the entire winter. If you are interested in learning more about trailerable houseboat I wrote an entire article about them that can be found here.

Can A Houseboat Be Moved From One State to Another? 

Of course this is another way of looking at the question can a houseboat be moved? Is it possible to move a houseboat from one state to another or even from one lake to another? 

Honestly, moving a houseboat comes down to its size and how much you are willing to spend.  If you have a 20-30ft houseboat it can be easily moved from one place to another on a slightly larger boat trailer. Moving it from state to state isn’t ideal but it can certainly be done and won’t be too expensive. 

If your houseboat is much larger than 30ft long then it won’t be able to be moved with a normal boat trailer. You will either have to be a professional mover/truck driver or hire one to move a larger houseboat. 

The biggest issue with hiring a trucker or professional mover is the COST! To move a houseboat a few hundred miles will normally cost thousands of dollars! 

I recently looked into purchasing a houseboat that was a few hundred miles away from the location where I would use it. The boat was priced quite a bit cheaper than anything that was in my location so I called around to a few different places and got bids. 

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The cheapest bid to move the houseboat was $3,500 with the more expensive company coming back at over $8,000! The $3,500 bid didn’t include coverage if the bit was to have issues during loading or unloading that wasn’t the fault of the company either (so if the boat twisted funny and damaged the hull, decking etc. I had to pay for it out of my pocket). 

The cost savings of buying a boat that was a few hundred miles away was basically negated by the shipping cost and the possibility of the boat being damaged during the move made me decide that moving a houseboat wasn’t a good idea unless the deal was absolutely insane. 

Now if you or someone you know is a professional trucker or has a moving company then your experience might be different but it is certainly a good idea to know all the costs before deciding whether moving a houseboat is a good idea in your situation or not. 

Whether moving a houseboat around on a lake, to the next state, or cross country, always make sure that you do your research and decide what is the best way to get your houseboat moves! 

As Always, 

Happy Boating 

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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