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The monthly or yearly costs for a houseboat can vary greatly depending on a huge amount of factors. For example the place where you choose to dock your houseboat could be as inexpensive as a couple hundred dollars a month and as expensive as $1,000!
I will give some general estimates of what expenses to expect but you will have to plug in the exact expenses for your location to come up with a more accurate budget.
Assuming you don’t have the money to pay for your new houseboat outright, you will have monthly payments for your houseboat. Obviously the payment for your houseboat will depend on your interest rate, payment terms, and how much the houseboat purchase price is.
We discussed possible lenders in another article (found here) but to get a monthly expense we are going to have to make some assumptions.
If you were to purchase a $50,000 houseboat, get an interest rate of 4.59% and have the loan last 10 years assuming you put 10% down ($5,000) your monthly houseboat payment would be $468.33.
Again, you will have to put in your own numbers but you can do your own loan calculation here
Monthly Expense Total: $468.33
Houseboat Insurance Cost
Houseboat insurance costs can vary depending on the age of your boat, how often it’s used, how big it is, etc. but the average price is $1,000-$2000 a year.
Houseboat insurance normally requires a survey (assuming you didn’t buy a brand new boat) which can cost you $20-$30 per linear foot.
We will assume that your boat falls somewhere in the middle and the insurance will cost $1500 a year or $125 a month.
Monthly expense total $593.33
Houseboat Fuel Costs
Again, this expense will vary depending on how often you take your houseboat out. If you just leave it docked all the time you won’t spend anything on fuel but if you take it out all the time then you will spend far more.
For this expense we will estimate that you are going to take it out every other week and that you travel 50 miles each trip. Including the approximate fuel use for your generator/generators you will spend around $100 every time you take your boat out. So taking it out twice a month would cost you $200.
Monthly expense total $793.33
Houseboat Maintenance/Upkeep costs
Again, (sorry) this varies a lot. If you buy a newer houseboat then your yearly maintenance costs will be less than if you buy an older boat. Most experts recommend setting aside $1,000 to $2,000 a year for maintenance, tune-ups, etc. We will again go in the middle and go with $1,500. That comes out to a monthly cost of $125
Monthly Expense total $918.33
Houseboat Storage Costs
If you don’t live in an area where you can leave your boat in the water year around then you will have to pay for storage or have a big enough spot to store it at your house. Outdoor boat storage costs average $7.50 per linear foot so if you have a 40’ boat you will pay $300 a month to store your boat over the winter.
For most places you will need to store your boat from November through February which would cost you $1,200. Averaged out over the year the storage costs would be $100 a month.
Monthly Expenses Total $1,018.33
Houseboat Dock Fees
Boat dock fees can range from $68 a month in Tennessee to well over $1,000 a month in California. Each marina sets their own fees and those dock fees can vary depending on location, size of your boat, and time of the year.
Some marinas charge more during peak season and then lower their prices in the off season. Others keep their prices the same year around. You can get a discount for annual dock fees at most marinas so if leaving your boat in the water works in your location, that can be a much better option than putting it somewhere different over the winter.
Finding an average dock fee is difficult since there is such a large range but outside California most dock fees are around $100-$300 a month. That will normally include water, electricity, and in some places even TV and internet. I will again use the middle and use $200 a month for dock fees.
Since we figured storing the boat for 4 months of the year then the dock fees would only be due for 8 months. That would bring our average monthly dock fees to $133.33
Monthly Expenses Total: $1,151.66
Houseboat Utilities Cost
I figured this in to the dock fees above but I wanted to mention it separately since some marinas don’t include it in their monthly rent prices. If your local marina doesn’t include all the utilities in your dock fee be sure and figure it into your monthly budget. For example the $68 dock fee in Tennessee (mentioned above) includes water, TV, and Internet but doesn’t include electricity in that cost. Just be sure when you are figuring your budget to include all utilities in your figuring.
One other thing that is rarely included in with the dock fees is the sewage/septic pump out. Most marinas will have either a boat that comes around to do it or a place where you can take your boat to pump out the sewage. The average cost for sewage pump out is $20 each time. You will normally need to pump out bi-weekly (sometimes less, sometimes more) so that is an additional $40 a month in expenses.
Monthly Expenses Total: $1,191.66
Houseboat Repairs Cost
This is again, a difficult number to pin down as it depends on how old your boat it, how well previous repairs are done, if you do repairs yourself, and a whole host of other things.
I personally like to use the same estimate as with the maintenance costs so we will estimate the repair bills as $125 a month. Obviously some months will be more and some will be less.
You could even go a year or two with virtually no repairs but with anything mechanical repairs will be coming. It is better to plan ahead and have some money set aside for the repairs than to have your boat dead in the water because you can’t afford to repair it.
Monthly Expenses Total: $1,316.66
The above expenses doesn’t include any food, jet skis or other rentals, cost to get to and from the water, and much more.
Having a houseboat (or any boat) can add up quickly. Before you make a purchase for you and your family make sure to find out what your expenses would be and how much you would use it.
What some people do is rent a boat for a long weekend or even for a few weeks at a time over the summer. Boat rentals aren’t cheap but when you figure out how much your houseboat costs over a year it’s often more than you would have spent on a rental.
At a $1,316.66 a month cost you will spend almost $16,000 a year on your boat expenses (more than that when you include the cost of food and extras) so it isn’t something to jump into without discussing it with your significant other and spending some serious time thinking about it.
If you already have a houseboat or still think that buying a houseboat is worth the cost you can also consider renting it out to other people when you aren’t using it. I wrote an article about renting out your boat that gives you some approximate numbers on what you could expect to get nightly and the best places to rent your houseboat out. That article can be found here
Whatever you decide, just make sure that the money you are spending on your boat isn’t hurting you and your family more than the fun it is giving you.