Do Houseboats Have Addresses? How Do They Get Mail?

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If you have recently purchased a houseboat or are just curious about those people who live on board a houseboat you probably have wondered if a houseboat has an address. 

Houseboats don’t have an address and can’t get mail or packages delivered to them. Some marinas will allow you to have your mail and packages sent there but that actually isn’t a houseboat address. 

If you live on a houseboat you would need to get a  PO Box, a mailbox at an independent location, or use a mail forwarding service. 

If you live on a houseboat you really only have a couple of options to receive your mail and packages. You can have a PO Box or a mailbox at a fedex or mailbox type store or you can receive your mail at the marina if they allow it. 

I will discuss each of these in detail below. 

1. PO Box or Mailbox 

There are a few different options available for a PO Box or mailbox. Of course the first thing is you can have a PO Box at the post office that is close to your normal dock. 

Of course the issue with that is that some shipping companies won’t deliver to a PO Box so when ordering items online you have to make sure they only ship using ways that will be able to be delivered to your box. 

One major benefit of using a PO Box is that they are open all of the time so you can check your box at odd hours and get your mail. You won’t be able to get your packages except during business hours though so if you order online a lot that isn’t ideal. 

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If you get a mailbox from FedEx, UPS, or independent store, the hours will often be much longer than the hours at the post office. Some mailbox stores will allow access to the boxes 24/7 while others will only have them accessible the hours they are open. 

For most people it is better and cheaper to get a box at an independent place than the post office as those type of places can receive packages no matter who they are sent from and you don’t have to worry if a store changes the way they ship your item at the last minute. 

The extended hours that most mailbox stores have is also a plus as they are normally open multiple hours a day more than the post office is for picking up the packages. You will also get much more personal service at a mailbox store than you will at the post office. 

I have a mailbox store that I personally use that is a small independently owned and run place. There are only 2 employees at the store and after a few months they got used to seeing me on a weekly basis. Now when I go in they will pull any packages that I have before I even get to the counter. I have had them grab my packages for me while they were waiting on another customer to fill out some paperwork or a check as well. The great service is an awesome perk that you would never get at the post office! 

There have been multiple times where I tell them I’m going on a longer trip and they have no problems holding on to my mail and packages for a longer period of time. 

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2. The Marina

Some local marinas will offer mail and package delivery services. They will allow anyone who has a dock rental there to receive their mail and packages to the marina’s address and then you can pick it up. 

One issue with this setup is that your mail and packages are susceptible to tampering or simply getting lost or misplaced. It can certainly be a nice perk but each person has to make the decision for themselves whether the risks are worth it or not. 

Another issue with using the marina’s address is that if you ever want to change to a different marina or even move to another city, it becomes more difficult to get your mail forwarded properly. When you forward mail the post office can often mess up the forwarding and either forward things they aren’t supposed to or not forward the correct items. 

This can cause a multitude of issues and since you are no longer docking at the marina they don’t exactly have fixing your mail at the top of their priority list. 

3. Mail Forwarding Services

If you plan on traveling a lot or won’t stay in one town for long then a mail forwarding service could be exactly what you need. There are a variety of different services all over the United States so finding one near where you normally use your boat shouldn’t be too difficult. 

Mail forwarding businesses will often open all of your mail and scan it into your online interface before shredding and disposing of the mail. This can be especially useful as you don’t have to actually touch any mail and you can simply look at it and delete it or print it off if needed. 

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One downside to mail forwarding services is you will have to spend extra to have them forward any physical packages you receive. That can get quite expensive very quickly especially if you do much shopping online. 

What many people do is use a mail forwarding service for all of their paper mail and then have packages shipped to the marina or town where they are currently at. This will allow you to not have to change your mailing address all the time for bills, letters, and more but also keep you from having to spend money on the forwarding process. 

In an ideal world you would have a mailbox business near you that would do the mail scanning for you while also holding on to your packages until the next time you come through. This isn’t always possible but if it is it’s certainly the way to go. 

Ultimately if you are living aboard a houseboat you have to figure out a way to receive your mail. The three options listed above are the most popular and the most likely to work in most people’s situations. 

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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