Should You Buy A Houseboat? Things To Consider

Should You Buy A Houseboat?

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Buying a houseboat is a very personal decision. Whether you should buy one is dependent on many different variables in your life. In this article I will try and cover some of the most common variables that could affect your buying decision. 

Choosing whether to buy a houseboat comes down to a few different things: money, time, stage of life, location, how you will use it and many more. In this article I will cover each of these in more detail. 

Each of these variables is important to the decision of buying a houseboat but ultimately the decision to make a purchase is up to you and your loved ones. Buying a houseboat is certainly not a decision that should be made lightly. 

1. Money

This is probably the biggest factor when it comes to buying a houseboat. Not only do you have to have enough money to purchase the houseboat but you also need to have money for all of the regular expenses. 

Buying any boat is a money suck to some extent and shouldn’t be entered into without taking a hard look at your finances. If you can barely afford the monthly loan payments on the boat then run away from buying one! 

The monthly loan costs are just the beginning of your houseboat costs. You will also have dock fees, fuel, repair, maintenance, and much more. 

Those costs will quickly add up and can even be more than the loan payment for many people. Of course if you are going to be living on the houseboat then it will often be cheaper than purchasing a house but just as a recreational vessel it takes a lot of money to buy a houseboat and keep it up. 

If you are wanting to learn more about houseboat expenses you can read an article I wrote detailing the most common houseboat expenses by clicking here.

2. Time

If you are going to purchase a houseboat it is important to think about how much time you will have available to use the boat. Often people who buy boats or RVs think they will use them all the time but after a few years they realize that they only use them a few weekends a year. 

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If you are still working a full time job and are only planning to take your houseboat out on holiday weekends then buying a houseboat probably isn’t the best idea. It would be better to rent a houseboat for a few weekends a year then it would be to buy if you are only going to use it for holidays. 

If you are retired or are planning on living on your houseboat full time then it starts to make more sense. Unless you have a large amount of money the time that you will spend on board doesn’t make purchasing a houseboat worthwhile unless you plan on living on it most or all of the time. 

3. Stage Of Life

Now this one might seem a little odd but the stage of life you find yourself in can have a large impact on whether you should buy a houseboat or not. 

If you are a young single person and you plan on staying single for quite a while then buying a houseboat and living on board could make sense. 

If you are a retiree and are looking to sell your home and move someplace new while enjoying warmer weather, then buying a houseboat on a river or lake can make tons of sense. 

If you are an older couple whose kids have moved out and you are looking to downsize, then buying a houseboat could be a great way to spend your older years. 

If you are a younger couple with kids or looking to have kids soon, then a houseboat probably isn’t a good choice for the stage of life you are in. 

Buying a houseboat can be done at all ages but it isn’t the best at all stages. Living on a few hundred square foot houseboat with multiple kids on board will wear on most people quite quickly. That can also be an issue if the kids are too young to learn how to swim. 

Constantly being worried about your kids getting dirty, falling in the water, and being crammed into a small houseboat is not a good recipe for success. Now if your children are teens or older then you could certainly live on a houseboat but it would still be quite cramped and teens like to have their own space which is impossible on most houseboats. 

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It is important to take a hard look at what stage of life you are currently in and where you see yourself in 5-10 years before you decide whether you should buy a houseboat. 

4. Location 

Where you are located at should weigh heavy on your houseboat buying decision. If you are located in the northern portion of the USA then you will only be able to use your houseboat for 6-8 months out of the year as the winter will be too harsh to use your houseboat. 

The other issue with being up north is the weather will be much harder on your houseboat than if you were located further south. Paying dock fees or paying to remove your houseboat from the water every single winter can get old quite fast and then you have to keep paying those dock fees and loan payments when you aren’t even able to use your boat because of the cold temps. 

Even if you are further south where you could use your houseboat year around you should still consider the location. If you are on a river where you can move the boat up and down the river to view the different scenery and visit different cities that is far better than having a houseboat on a lake where it’s the same thing every time you get on board. 

You will be far more likely to use your houseboat regularly if there are a variety of places to visit and things to look at than if you just have one fishing hole where the fish bite and one marina to dock at. 

5. How You Will Use Your Houseboat 

This is probably one of the most personal variables that I have mentioned. Before you ever ever even start looking at houseboats you need to consider how you will use the boat once you purchase it. 

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Are you going to live on board? Are you going to spend every weekend on board? Are you going to use it on holidays? 

Knowing how you will use it is vital in the decision making process! If you are going to live on board then buying a houseboat can make more financial sense than buying a normal house if the area you are at has high property costs. 

If you are going to use your houseboat every weekend for fishing you will probably want to spend far less on the boat itself since you are only going to be spending a couple of days a week there and you will be more concentrating on the fish biting than you are in the comfort of the bed. 

If you are going to use the houseboat on just holiday weekends then you might want to consider renting or getting a houseboat that can go on a trailer so you don’t have to pay docking fees when you aren’t using the boat on the water. 

There are certainly far more things to consider than these few when you are thinking about buying a houseboat but this should give you a good start. It is important to consider each of these points individually but also as a whole. 

It is also important to do tons of reading in general about houseboats, houseboat expenses, and virtually everything else you can learn. Buying a houseboat is a huge expense and I would recommend everyone spending far more time learning than they do looking for their ideal houseboat. 

This entire site is dedicated to houseboat owners and there are tons of articles that will help you learn houseboat basics and even some stories from real boat owners that will help you get some perspectives from current owners. 

Whatever you decide always make sure to do your due diligence before you ever visit a houseboat manufacturer or look at your first boat. 

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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