What Is Some Good Advice When Buying A Houseboat?

Are you someone who dreams of living a life amidst the ocean waves? Or have you been longing lately for a quick escape to an idyllic canal, a shimmering marina or simply meandering through the beautifully landscaped lakes and rivers? 

If you really want to make these dreams a reality, then this article is the perfect guide to helping you when buying a houseboat. Shifting from the terra firma to a watery lair can be pretty challenging but if you are sure of your decision of spending your next phase of life on a houseboat, then these guidelines will definitely help you out.

There are a variety of things to keep in mind when buying a houseboat but the biggest thing to consider is the size/type of houseboat and the price. These two things will affect you the most going forward as too small of a houseboat will grate on you over time and not following your budget will make your houseboat much more of a burden and less of an enjoyment. 

Of course there are many other things that you should consider when buying a houseboat from where you will dock it, whether you will live on board full time, whether to buy new or used, and much more. Each of these things are important to think about and decide with your significant other before you ever go houseboat shopping. 

In this article, you will find virtually everything that you may need before purchasing a houseboat. We have tried to include all of the most important things that you should consider before buying as well as renting. In this article we will deal with the hows and whys and also provide you with ways of how you can start living aboard. 

If you go through the article carefully we are pretty sure that after reading you’ll get a rough idea of what things you should prioritize and what exactly you should know. 

Which kind of houseboat should you buy?

In order to live aboard, it is important to look at the numerous options of houseboats available on the market. Therefore, we have listed down some of the popular types of houseboats in order to help you decide which houseboat you should go for. Each one comes with their own special design and style and depending on where in the world that you live one type of houseboat might be more popular than another in your area. 

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1) Narrow Boats

These boats are perfect to travel down the narrow canals that are found in many places around the world. They are usually made up of steel and traditionally, they come with round port-hole windows which make them quite bright inside. These boats are also equipped with engines in order to aid permanent mooring or cruising depending on which you prefer. 

2) Dutch Barges

These are almost identical to narrow boats but they come with a much wider beam. This gives extra space for living and so these boats are more often utilized as a floating home. Due to their extra width, these boats are easy to moor on rivers.

3) Houseboat

These types of boats allow permanent moored accommodation as well as the option to cruise the lakes or rivers. In the USA these are the types of boats that people will traditionally live on or even spend the summer cruising on. You can have all the comforts of home while using this style of boat as they come equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and sleeping quarters as well. 

4) Luxury Yachts

These types of boats require a huge investment. Their prices start at the rate of a small condo and can be hundreds of thousands of dollars more if one decides to go for more luxury. These are perfect to go on a luxury tour during your vacation but aren’t a possibility for most people to actually own. 

5) River cruisers

These types of boats are mainly constructed from fiberglass. They come in pre-defined or ready to go models. You can start living on these types of boats as soon as you buy them but they are normally on the smaller side when compared to a traditional houseboat. 

6) Motor Fishing Vehicles (MFVs)

These are the most widely used styles of boats in many places around the globe. After decommissioning, they can be bought at cheap prices. They can then be renovated into a complete home and their extra space makes it quite easy to divide the available space into normal rooms.

Thinking of buying a houseboat to live on?

You can find many companies or individuals who can construct your houseboat as per your requirements. Also, if you want to save some money from investing in a brand new boat, you can definitely go for a used houseboat to save a little bit of cash. 

It is certainly far easier to buy a boat that is already built or one that doesn’t need repairs (in the case of a used one) but you won’t get any input if you buy an already built one and you will pay top dollar if you buy a new one. You can go for buying a houseboat shell and then get all creative with your DIY ideas while building up the inside. This will enable you to personalize the boat but not have to build from scratch either. 

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The options are numerous as to how you want to get yourself a houseboat for living.

Unlike houses, these houseboats don’t require any kind of title deed and you often only need to register it like a traditional boat. Before buying, you do need to spend a good amount of time inspecting the houseboat no matter if it is used or new. 

You are going to be spending a large amount of money to purchase the houseboat no matter what condition it is in so you will want to ensure that it is functioning and everything was done or built properly as well. The last thing you will want is to take your brand new houseboat on the water for a few times only to realize that it has an issue that causes it to sink! 

What are the different options for buying a houseboat?

Based on your requirements and where you live, you can search in many different locations. 

  • You can look in the trade magazines.
  • You can also visit boat shows where you can get glimpses of the latest houseboats.
  • You can visit boat brokers at several local boatyards.
  • You can also go for building a houseboat as per your specifications.

Always make sure that during boat building, you are able to pay the amount in installments. You must be ready to pay several visits to the boat builders as well to make sure that everything is being done right and on schedule. 

When building a boat, make sure that you pay only when the prearranged tasks get completed. Always ask for a written copy stating what work has been completed so far. Upon money exchange, never forget to ask for the receipts. Also, make sure that your new boat is constructed according to the standards of safety. 

You certainly don’t want to get the boat completed and paid for only to realize too late that things weren’t built up to standard and you have to go back and fix them before ever hitting the water. 

The last and likely best place to find a houseboat for sale if you are buying used is at local marinas. You can often find flyers posted with boats for sale or even some for sale signs in windows. You can often find far better deals by simply spending a few hours walking around your local marina than you will ever get buying any other way. 

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Thinking of buying a second-hand boat?

By purchasing a used houseboat you can save a good amount of money over what you would pay buying a brand new one. When buying a used model you either need to go to a boat trader/salesman or try and find deals yourself locally via the marina or places like Craigslist, Facebook, etc. Boat dealers will offer a pretty good range of models from which you can choose from but at a much higher price than buying from an individual seller. 

No matter who you are buying from you should always ask for each and every paper of documentation that they have including any maintenance or upkeep that has been done. Before buying there are some things that you should make sure that you do. They are:

  • Always make sure that you personally carry out a survey of the boat.
  • You must be prepared to spend some money on its extra maintenance.
  • You must insist to see any and all paperwork that they have including registration for the boat.
  • You should be sure to settle on a price that reflects the condition of the boat along with its age so that way you and the sellers get a fair price.

Other options for obtaining houseboat ownership:

If you are someone who is still not fully decided whether to go for a maritime living or not, then you can have a little sample of that by using a variety of other options. Some of the options available are:

  • You can go for shared ownership of the houseboat.
  • You can go give a timeshare facility a try.
  • You can rent a houseboat for a few days or weekend


There are a lot of things that you should consider when purchasing a houseboat and hopefully this article has been helpful in giving you a few of the things that you should consider before purchasing a houseboat. 

Buying a houseboat is a large investment so you will want to make sure to do plenty of research and investigation about the make and model of the houseboat as well as be very careful with inspecting a houseboat before purchasing it no matter if it is new or a used one.

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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