Can You Sail A Houseboat?

Houseboats have been around for well over 100 years. What first started as a way to make cheap housing has now turned into big dollar super houseboats that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

Of course not all houseboats are that expensive and there are still people who like them for saving money on their living expenses even today. 

Despite houseboats being around for a long time there are many people who still don’t know much about them. Matter of fact a common question that we get here at Just Houseboats is whether you can sail a houseboat or not. 

So in this article we will try to answer that question for those of you who are wondering about the same thing. 

Whether you can sail a houseboat really depends on your definition of sail. If you are wondering if you can take a houseboat up and down the river or lake then the answer is yes you can. If however you are wanting to put up actual sales and cross the ocean, that is something you can’t do in a houseboat. 

Houseboats are quite simply too large and bulky to be moved with sails very effectively and since they are used on inland rivers and lakes getting the wind to be strong enough to move it around would be incredibly difficult. 

Some people who ask this question on further expiation simply want to know if houseboats can move from where they are located or if they are stationary. 

Although some houseboats are designed to never leave the dock and might not even actually have a motor onboard most houseboats have at least one if not multiple motors that can be used to move around as the owner likes. Many people love living on board a houseboat because of the freedom that they have to move all over the place to view the best scenery and wildlife. 

Before we get into some additional details on this topic, let’s first look a little more carefully at what exactly houseboats are and how they are used.

What exactly are houseboats? How are they different from other boats? If you, like many people are starting to develop a new found love for houseboats, then this article for you.

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What are houseboats?

A houseboat as the name suggests is literally a house on a boat. However, if we would want to define it more clearly, it may be said to be a boat with multiple rooms including a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, and deck. 

Houseboats are becoming more and more popular these days given their affordability and the aesthetic beauty of the newer builds. A houseboat is sometimes more affordable than a house or an apartment and people who are looking for a vacation home can definitely invest in a houseboat instead as they can own a house on the water rather than one next to it! 

For obvious reasons houseboats are particularly more famous in areas with many bodies of water and where good fishing is often found. People who pursue fishing whether as a profession or a hobby often form a majority of the buyers. 

Houseboats may indeed be very convenient for some people however, if you are seriously thinking about purchasing a houseboat, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

Build quality

For obvious reasons, the build of the houseboat like that of an apartment or a normal house should be carefully assessed. Moreover,houseboats will perpetually remain on water and hence should be tested for its water resistance. Always check for any leaks or defects before finalizing the deal on buying a houseboat.


Houseboats indeed provide some of the most spectacular views ever. However, sometimes the infrastructure or some other defect may be a hurdle in the way of getting amazing views. Before purchasing a houseboat, make sure you check out the views if the houseboat doesn’t move. 

If the houseboat does move you will want to check out the body of water that it is on. Since moving a houseboat is quite expensive, you are often better off buying a houseboat on the lake or river you plan on leaving it on.

Price range

This is probably one of the most important factors that you should consider before you decide to buy a houseboat. Like you would do in the case of an apartment, condo, or house, always make sure you make a proper value assessment of the houseboat in order to get the best value for your money. 

Along with deciding the price range you should also make sure you decide the source of the funds for your houseboat. 

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Financing is an integral part of the process of purchasing anything let alone a houseboat and you should pay special attention to it with a houseboat since many normal banks won’t even loan you money on one!


It is always better to have good insurance for your houseboat to prevent you from having to shell out tons of money in case of an accident. Houseboats float on water and their susceptibility to damage from natural disasters is equal if not more than the damage caused to any normal infrastructure on land. 

Make sure you sort out all formalities of insurance with the seller before purchasing the houseboat as you will want your insurance going into effect on day one.

These are only a few of the many things that should be kept in mind before purchasing a houseboat. At the end of the day, it should be remembered that houseboats are a big investment and a proper value assessment is integral to making the best purchase for yourself.

Now that you know a lot about houseboats and things you should remember before purchasing one, let us dive a little bit deeper into the main question of this article. 

Can you sail a houseboat? 

Well that would be ideal wouldn’t it? An amazing house that sails across the ocean? That would be amazing; indeed. However, according to most boating enthusiasts and experts, houseboats are not suitable for travelling long distances across any ocean or large body of water. 

A houseboat is a more sophisticated version of a normal boat but under extreme boating conditions a houseboat will quickly start taking on water and sink! 

However, thanks to various advanced systems, these days there are a few versions of houseboats that can indeed travel over long distances on the sea. However, these boats are on the more expensive size of the price spectrum and are quite a bit more like yachts than they are normal houseboats. 

Some people are of the opinion that even a basic houseboat can travel a good distance when the waters are calm. However, no matter how advanced the houseboat is, it is always discouraged that you take your houseboat into water that could become rough. A houseboat isn’t as well equipped as a boat that was specifically designed for sailing and hence you are better off not risking your life in such possibly dangerous waters.

So what do you do if you are someone who loves sea travel and wants to experiment with their houseboat?

Houseboats are completely safe for inland water and short distance travelling. It is more than perfect for small water bodies like lakes or even rivers. However, if you are looking for some sailing adventures then you should skip purchasing a houseboat and purchase a boat that was particularly designed to sail on the ocean. 

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These boats are different from mainstream houseboats and contain various systems that a houseboat doesn’t have that will allow it to handle the large waves of the ocean without any problems. 

If you are indeed a curious soul, you could call in a mechanic to make some modifications to your houseboat and test it out in rough waters. However, make sure this expedition is in the nature of an experiment and nothing else. 

Always make sure you take the help of an expert or have a friend come along when you are carrying out such ventures.


Just because houseboats aren’t the perfect boats to sail with doesn’t mean they are weak and useless. Houseboats have their own purposes that are quite different from sail boats. 

A houseboat mostly serves the purpose of providing a luxurious and relaxing experience to you whereas sail boats provide you an adrenaline filled and exciting experience. It is up to you to purchase a boat that suits your preferences. 

However, never compare the ability of one boat to another. Boats are like gadgets and they each have their own unique specifications that must be given due consideration before they are rented or purchased. 

After learning that you can’t sail a houseboat do you still find yourself developing a new found love for them? If you do, then this might be the perfect time for you to purchase one. 

Believe it or not, with real estate prices soaring, buying a houseboat is one of the most affordable and value for your money options available to you. However, make sure you do in depth research and if you are someone who isn’t well acquainted with boats, always get some expert advice before deciding on any purchase.

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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