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How Much Does It Cost to Live on a Houseboat: Detailed Guide

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how much does it cost to live on a houseboat

The idea of living on a houseboat really excites me. Imagine sleeping above the water and waking up with picturesque scenery every day. If you are an introvert like me, and you click on this headline, chances are the idea fascinates you, too. However, living on a houseboat year-round comes with many costs. Don’t get me wrong, it is not necessarily extravagant, but the fees are a bit extra.

Costs of living on a boat are affected by many factors, such as types of houseboats purchased or rented, docking fees of the marina, vessel insurance, and maintenance. Excluding the houseboat, other fees should be from $500 to $1000 per month.

In this article, we will provide a detailed answer to the big question of how much does it cost to live on a houseboat. Plus, we will consider the advantages and disadvantages of houseboat living.

Table of Contents

What is a Houseboat

A houseboat is a vessel that is fully furnished and redecorated for full-time living. Depending on the owner’s demand, it can either be a simple and small hut placed on a raft or a ravishing and intricate yacht.

Some houseboats are equipped with engines to move about on the water, known as cruising houseboats. But most of them are docked at a fixed place.

How Much is a Houseboat


The type of houseboat you choose is the main cost of moving to a floating home. Depending on the size, furniture, and engine, houseboats’ price can be from a couple of thousand to million dollars. The good news is there are many options. You can customize your boat, buy a used houseboat, or rent one and pay monthly.

New houseboats

The cost of a new boat starts at around $70,000. Obviously, the bigger the vessel, the higher the price. A fancy yacht might cost up to several million dollars. In general, here is the price range:

  • 30ft – 40ft boat: $70k to $150k
  • 40ft – 50ft boat: $100k to $500k
  • 50ft – 60ft boat: $120k to $500k
  • 60ft – 100ft boat: $300k to $4 million

Used houseboats

If you are looking for cost-effective options, buy a used houseboat. You can find small used boats for around $20,000. Remember to be careful when purchasing a second-hand houseboat. Ensure its quality by:

  • Carrying out the boat survey by yourself.
  • Insisting to check all documentation like boat registration, insurance, safety certificates. Each state has different paperwork requirements, so take a Boating Education Course provided by the government before purchasing used houseboats.
  • Research the boat model price in advance. Deal with the seller for a fair price according to the boat’s condition and age.

Also, be prepared that when buying a used houseboat, you will need to spend money on repairs, replacements, and extra maintenance.

Rented houseboats

The last option is to rent a houseboat. Besides keeping you from the huge expenditure in the first place, this will give you time to get used to a floating life and see whether it suits you or not. If you are new to boats and living on the water, this is the option we recommend.

There are many houseboats renting services on the market, both for the short-term and long-term. Houseboat pricing depends on the marina it is docked, the houseboat types, and the rental duration. It can be from fifty to a few hundred dollars a day, but you can get a much lower price when renting for a prolonged period.

Other Costs of Living on a Houseboat


In addition to the houseboat, you will need to pay for other costs. Monthly fees like mooring, insurance, and maintenance should be from $500 to $1000. Let’s break it down.

Mooring related fees

  • Slip fee: Whether you rent or buy a boat, you must pay for docking in a marina. Marinas usually charge for boat slips monthly. The slip rate is based on the slip size or boat length, whichever is greater, calculated in feet. This rate varies among locations. But in most cases, it is around $14 per foot.
  • Let’s say your boat is 28 feet in length, and it requires a slip size of 25 feet. Then, your monthly slip fee is the multiplication of 14 and 28, which is $392. That is the fee for docking only.
  • Utilities: For liveaboards, marina owners will charge utilities. Some of them include it in the slip fee, but most owners will send you separate bills for waste removals, electricity, heating costs, etc. Life on a houseboat is usually minimal due to the limited living space. Therefore, this fee is not much. Monthly bills on a houseboat are from $13 to $20.
  • Deposit: In addition to that, similar to renting a house, an amount of deposit is required before moving in. Prepare double the amount of money you will pay for the boat slip. If you rent a houseboat, chances are you will need to deposit an amount equal to one month’s


In general, houseboat insurance can be from $500 to $2,000 a year. That is for basic coverage. This amount can be a bit lower or higher depending on the houseboat conditions and the insurance policy you choose. Some tips on reducing your insurance amount are:

  • Limiting the cruising area: Insurance agencies will charge less if your boat is tied up to a fixed location or only cruises in limited areas.
  • Taking a boating safety course: Most agencies offer a 10% discount if you enroll in an approved boating safety course. We highly recommend this, as it will ensure your safety when living above water.


Last but not least, you will need to consider the maintenance costs of the houseboat. Again, it depends on the houseboat type. For example, typical wood decks will need more attention and care. If your houseboat is equipped with engines, they require periodic maintenance. Some basic maintenance fees are:

  • Cleaning: Every three to six months, your boat needs to be cleaned thoroughly. By this, I don’t mean brushing off the dust with a broom. You must clean the hull and deck using specific detergents and techniques. In case you’re wondering, this includes diving under the water to scrub off that green scum formed by barnacles if necessary.
  • Waxing: To preserve the boat surfaces, waxing is a must. You have to purchase boat waxing tools like a buffer and polisher. This process might be time-consuming.
  • Engine maintenance: For your boat engine to perform at its best, regular motor cleaning, oil changing, and fuel filter replacing are needed.

If all of this is too much, you can always ask for professional help. However, it is not sustainable because repairing services charge a lot of money, and you need to carry these tasks out quite often.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living on a Houseboat

For a closer look at life aboard, watch this video on Living Full Time Aboard on a houseboat tiny home to save money and live.

Despite how exciting it might be, living in a floating home has its disadvantages. Before making a phone call to buy your dream houseboat, take a look at the benefits and drawbacks of houseboat living.


  • Waking up to the view of the sea or lake you like every day.
  • Boating and fishing at any time of the day. You don’t need to wait until your vacation anymore.
  • No more yard work, mowing the lawn, or shoveling the snow.
  • Depending on the state, you might not have to pay property taxes.


A floating life might not suit everyone, though. Consider carefully if the following concerns you:

  • Living in a smaller space: Some people cannot stand a small living space. They might feel like being cooped up when living full time on a 25 feet houseboat.
  • Suffering from seasickness or dizziness: If you have experienced seasickness or dizziness before, then a floating home might not be for you.
  • Getting sunburned: A houseboat is exposed to the sun with minimal roofing. Let’s be realistic, as getting sunburned is unavoidable.
  • Paying for extra costs like mooring fees and engine maintenance.


There you have it, all about the question “how much does it cost to live on a houseboat?”. It’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth it or not.

We hope you’ve gathered enough information about houseboat costs to make the smartest choice for yourself. If you decide to move to a floating home, please share your experience in the comment section. It must be fun. We look forward to hearing from you!

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