Why Do People Live On Houseboats?

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For some people living on a houseboat is a lifelong dream while other people live on a houseboat to save money. Why someone would live aboard a houseboat has tons of different answers. 

Some of the most common reasons that people live on a houseboat are: 

  • To save money
  • To travel
  • Love of the water
  • A permanent vacation
  • Practicality
  • Retirement home

There are of course many other reasons that someone might decide to live on a houseboat but I will discuss those reasons in more detail in the rest of this article. 

If you are interested in looking at some of the best gadgets that you will want to have on your boat you can find them by clicking here.

To Save Money 

I mentioned this one first since this is a very common reason in the house boating community. If you live in an area where the cost of living is high a houseboat can be a welcome way to help save some money. 

If you don’t pay to dock privately and just anchor or beach your boat you can often keep your monthly expenses to only a few hundred dollars a month. In cities or states where rent costs can run multiple thousands of dollars a month you can have significant savings by living on board a houseboat. 

Of course living on board does come with some cons as you not only do you have to find places to anchor or beach your boat regularly but the size and comfort of many houseboats will often not be up to the standards that many people expect in a house or apartment. 

To Travel

Living on board a houseboat will allow you to travel and see many scenic areas that wouldn’t be possible without a boat of this type. There are many different rivers and lakes in the US that are interconnected and you could boat for many thousands of miles without having to see the same place twice. 

One of the benefits of traveling on a houseboat is that you get to see many amazing sights while only purchasing one vessel. If you were to try and see those sights by buying a house at each scenic location it would cost you many millions of dollars. You could of course rent a home for a week but houses in scenic locals will often rent for $2,000+ a week. 

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Seeing all of those locations from the deck of a houseboat is not only much easier than booking a bunch of different houses but it will be far cheaper as well. 

One downside to traveling in a houseboat is you can’t go on the ocean so you will only be able to travel on lakes or rivers. That does limit some of your options but you will be able to enjoy a lifetime of views on the rivers and lakes. 

Love Of The Water

To live on board a houseboat you certainly will need to not only like the water but quite literally LOVE it! You have to love the smell of the water, the wildlife that you will see while on board and even have to learn to love the challenges of the water. 

If you don’t like some uncertainty in your life than living on the water won’t be for you. There will always be some uncertainty but loving the water will help you during the more difficult times. 

I have a family member who absolutely hates sand. I mean they despise going to any beach or even going to a park if there is sand there. They just hate the feeling of sand on their skin and can’t stand cleaning it up for their kids. If this is you… DON’T LIVE ON A HOUSEBOAT! 

You must absolutely love everything about the water and all that goes with it or living on board won’t last past a few weeks or months. 

Now that isn’t to say you have to love the bugs that often come with the water (especially if you are boating along the Mississippi in May/June) but if you are someone that gets easily annoyed and hates bugs bothering you that is certainly something to consider before you decide to live on a houseboat. 

A Permanent Vacation 

Of course being on a perpetual vacation is a huge bonus to living on your houseboat. For many people a houseboat can be a dream vacation that never ends. However just like a normal vacation there can often be things that go wrong. 

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With living on board you will have to deal with those things on a regular basis. Whether it is breakdowns, bad weather, or simply things not going according to plan your permanent vacation will be far more work than a normal vacation. 

The views and experiences while on board your boat can last a lifetime so for many people the benefits of a houseboat greatly outweigh any cons. 

Imagine waking up at dawn and fishing from your lazy boy! Imagine staying up late star gazing while dozing on the deck. This and more is the permanent vacation that houseboats can offer. 


Living on a houseboat can be the practical choice for many people as long as you love the water and are wanting to live near it all the time. Of course living in the water isn’t for everyone but many people find that it allows them to not only have all the things mentioned above but it is also the most practical solution. 

Many people choose a houseboat because it is the ideal solution to their housing needs. 

It might be because it is movable or just because it’s cheaper than what they can rent or buy a house. It might be because it is like a permanent vacation or that they simply love the water. 

Whatever your reason for being on a houseboat it is often the most practical solution for a variety of different scenarios. People far too often fail to think outside the box and just do what everyone else is doing. 

Houseboat owners are a different breed. They will often find what works best for their situation and find a way to make it happen. At its core that’s what a houseboat is. Someone wants a house but loves boating as well so they built something that does both! 

Now for some people houseboat living is far from practical. If you still have a 9-5 or are raising a young family then houseboats probably aren’t practical for your situation. Having to dock the boat every day for 8-10 hours and only sleeping on board defeats the purpose of many of the above mentioned items. 

The same is true for someone raising a family. If you have young kids, being cooped up in a few hundred square foot boat is probably not anyone’s idea of a good time! The kids will want to run and play and even if they can swim spending all day in the water often isn’t going to happen which means everyone will be on top of each other. 

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If however you are retired, single, or are simply wanting to take a few months to try something new, living on a houseboat can be quite practical for you. 

Retirement Home 

Using a houseboat as a retirement home can not only allow you to see way more views than buying a single home but it is also a better financial decision in some cases (I wrote an article about whether a houseboat is a good investment that can be found here).

Using a houseboat as a retirement home can not only allow you to keep more of your retirement money invested (over purchasing a traditional vacation home) but you can also move your houseboat to capture the best of all worlds. 

For example if your houseboat is on the Mississippi River you can enjoy the scenery along the Great Lakes and then as it starts to get cooler you can start heading south and enjoy the scenery and the warmer weather of Louisiana. 

Many retirees have 2 homes one where it is warm for the winter (Florida, Arizona, etc)  and their normal house for the summertime. With a houseboat you only have upkeep on one home while still being able to enjoy the scenery and the warmer weather in the south. 

People choose to live on Houseboats for far more reasons than just the few I mentioned but many people fall into the above categories. 

If you are looking to purchase a houseboat then the first place to start is seeing how much a houseboat costs. You can read the article that I wrote about houseboat expenses by clicking here.

You can also read an in depth article I have written about buying a houseboat here.  

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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