What Is A Houseboat Used For?

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If you’ve seen one of those odd looking boats recently that has a flat open deck and two stories talk you probably wondered what in the world you would use a houseboat for. 

A houseboat is mainly used for one of two main things, as recreation and as a home. Most houseboats are used recreationally but some people live on board them full time! 

What a houseboat is used for is ultimately the decision of the owner. They could be used as a floating house that never moves. They could be used to store all of the owners excess stuff.

 They could be used for a wide variety of different things but in this article I will focus on the most common uses for a houseboat. 

Recreational Use

This Is number one because it is far and away the most common use for a houseboat. If you see a houseboat out on a lake or river, it’s a pretty safe bet that the person is on vacation with some family or friends. They are probably enjoying the open water and being able to fish or go swimming just a few feet away from where they are sleeping. 

Many people who buy houseboats do so to spend many weekends away with family and friends without having to worry about towing an RV or living out of a hotel room. With a houseboat you can leave a bunch of your stuff on board so you don’t even have to pack hardly anything for your trips! 

Many people will leave some clothes for everyone and some canned foods so all you have to bring is perishable food and you are ready to party! Try doing that with a hotel! 

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Another huge benefit of using a houseboat for recreation is it will cost you far less than a vacation home will! Most vacation homes near the water will be quite expensive to rent or buy but you can often find plenty of deals on houseboats that will save you a considerable amount of money! 

If you want to know more about the expenses to expect with a houseboat you can read an article I wrote about houseboat expenses here. 

Something many people don’t realize or don’t think about when using a houseboat for recreation is that when you aren’t using your boat you can rent it out! 

Just like a normal vacation home there are always people looking to rent a place to stay for a week or two while on vacation. You can make some extra money to help pay for the upkeep and dock fees or even make some extra money on top of those expenses. 

If you want to learn more about renting out your houseboat you can read about it by clicking here

Used As A Home

Living on board a houseboat is still very common in many countries around the world but in recent years it has started to see an uptick in the USA as well. Many retirees have chosen to live on a houseboat with Reuters reporting that 9,000 retirees lived on houseboats in the USA and Canada as of 2012. 

The total number of people that live on board isn’t known for sure but it certainly has increased as the price of traditional real estate has skyrocketed in recent years. There are a variety of reasons that people choose to live on a houseboat but for many people it comes down to location freedom and saving money. 

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The cost to buy a houseboat is considerably less than buying a normal property and that’s especially true if you are looking for waterfront property! Many people will purchase a houseboat for 50-100k while a normal waterfront home can run hundreds of thousands more. Of course you don’t get land or as big of a house as you would when buying a traditional home but the trade off is worthwhile for many people. 

Using a houseboat as a home can be an amazing experience for some people while being the worst experience of their life for others. It really depends on how you approach living on board. 

If you go into it expecting to have a much smaller place and not having near as many conveniences you will probably be fine. It becomes a problem when you go in expecting everything to be the same as a traditional home. 

There are tons of extra things that must be done to even make a houseboat function properly such as: filling the water and fuel tanks, emptying the septic tanks, running a generator or solar to get power and much more. 

Things that are taken for granted in a normal house have to be considered when you live on board a boat. An example of this would be power usage. In a traditional home you don’t have to worry about how much power everything that is on is pulling. On a houseboat you have to ensure that all of your major things are pulling more power than your generator can handle. 

Living on board certainly isn’t for the faint of heart and isn’t something to be done lightly but it can be a great use of your houseboat. It’s also a great way to learn more about yourself while also enjoying the water and beauty around you. 

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There are of course far more uses for a houseboat than just the two that I have mentioned. The uses for houseboats are about as broad as a person’s imagination. 

For example, a houseboat could be used as storage unit (albeit a floating one). It could be used as a transport to get you from one side of a lake or river to another (other boats would probably work better for this). It could be used as a rental property with you renting it out by the week, month, or year. 

The possibilities are almost endless with houseboats and that is what makes them a popular choice for many lakes and rivers. Of course one downside to a houseboat is that it can’t be used on the ocean since you can really only use it in calmer waters without risking it sinking.

If you live on the coast that could be a deal breaker but for many people that live near large lakes or rivers, a houseboat is an excellent choice to use for recreation or to live on board full time! 

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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