This article may contain affiliate links where we earn a commission from qualifying purchases.
For most people, a houseboat and a yacht refer to the same thing. But is that the case? This houseboat vs. yacht comparison guide has the answer.
If you are looking to spend some of your time living on the water, you can either purchase a houseboat or a yacht. After all, they are the same thing, right? Not exactly. Houseboats are yachts are two different water vessels.
A houseboat is more of a floating house. It’s specifically built for permanent residence in water. And while it can move around, most houseboats spend the majority of their time moored to a port. Yachts, on the other hand, are designed for leisurely water activities like racing and vacations.
In this houseboat vs. yacht comparison guide, we will take a closer look at how these two water vessels compare. We will explore their designs, the different types available, their floor plans, and their pricing. And by the time you finish reading this guide, you will have a clear idea of the differences between a houseboat and a yacht. Also, this guide will help you to know the right choice for your needs.
We aim to provide our readers with informative, well-researched, and trustworthy content. And this is made possible thanks to our ever-dependable team, composed of respected journalists, experienced researchers and various other experts, drawn from different specializations. So, whenever you come across any type of content piece on our site, you can rest assured that the information you are getting is credible.
One of the main differences between a houseboat and a yacht is their design or appearance. If you take a closer look at a houseboat, you will notice it resembles something that looks like a floating home. And this explains why it’s called a houseboat. It’s a combination of a small house and a boat, thus the name.
A yacht, on the other hand, looks like an ordinary boat. Hence, it’s almost impossible to confuse the two, in terms of appearance, since they are considerably different.
A notable difference in their appearance is the hull. Considering that different water vessels come with different types of hulls, this is also the case with these two. For a houseboat, you will notice that it has a flat bottom hull. The flat bottom hull is designed to enhance its stability in the water since it spends the majority of its time docked alongside a pier, berth, or slip.
On the other hand, yachts come with V-shaped hulls. The V-shaped hull is designed to enhance the vessel’s agility and speed. Unlike houseboats, yachts spend most of their time moving around on the water. And this explains why they come with this type of hull design.
So, if you come across a water vessel that has a flat-shaped hull, it’s highly likely you will be looking at a houseboat. On the other hand, if it has a V-shaped hull, the chances are it’s a yacht or other similar water vessels built for agility and speed.
But, it’s also worth mentioning that some high-performance boats like tournament waterski boats also have flat-bottomed hulls. This hull design is to enable them to skim smoothly on the water surface.
Similar to other water vessels, houseboats and yachts come in different types, shapes and sizes. So, if you are looking to purchase any of these two water vessels, here are the different available types.
There are two main types of houseboats. These are static or non-cruising houseboats and bluewater or cruising houseboats. Each of these two types is built for a specific purpose and utilization.
As their name suggests, static households are not built for moving around. Most of the time, they are anchored or moored to a designated spot, which may be a dock or marina. Static houseboats are the most popular out there.
Non-cruising houseboats come equipped with almost all the modern conveniences that you would find in a normal house. However, these boats like propelling mechanisms, meaning you can’t move around in them.
A cruising houseboat is almost similar to a static houseboat, in terms of design and furnishings. But, it comes with a propelling mechanism, which may be a sail or engine. These are designed for individuals that want to travel around in a floating house. They are mainly built for vacationing.
But, as much as you can move around in a cruising houseboat, you can’t operate it on open or high oceanic seas, meaning you can only cruise with it on small water bodies. Cruising houseboats are not as popular as their static counterparts are.
While there are two main types of houseboats, you will come across numerous types on the market, branching from these two basic ones. Some of the different kinds of houseboats that you will find on the market include:
Pontoons are flat-looking cruising houseboats, mainly made from materials like wood, marine-grade aluminum, plastic, steel or fiberglass. They are mainly designed for vacationers. Pontoons are popular among houseboat lovers because of their practicality, stability and affordable prices. Also, they are easy and safe to operate and their maintenance costs are minimal.
Barges are large houseboats, which can be moved around or permanently anchored at the bay. Barges are the most popular houseboat styles due to their generous amounts of storage space. A conventional barge can accommodate approximately 10 people, making them ideal for families.
Trailerables are houseboats with a narrow and long design. Their narrow design makes them ideal for cruising small river systems and canals. Its name comes from the fact that you can tow it with a vehicle and move it around since it’s lightweight. Trailerables are smaller than the majority of other houseboats. But, if you only wish to spend a short amount of your time in the water, then a Trailerable will be the ideal vessel.
A floating home is a non-cruising houseboat, ideal for people who don’t want to cruise around in their boats. It’s a great retirement home for someone who wants to spend the majority of their time staying on the water. Floating homes are among the cheapest houseboats. They are affordable to build and easy to maintain.
If you are planning to be living permanently on water, then you should consider building or buying a river houseboat. Houseboats are usually made of fiberglass. Also, they are customizable, meaning you can have them built according to your specifications. River houseboats and you can furnish them with various conveniences.
Full hulls are popular houseboats that you will mainly find in the U.S. Full hulls come with a spacious interior, meaning they can accommodate several people. And thanks to their design, they have higher buoyancy, meaning they can handle rougher waters better than most other types of houseboats.
Just like houseboats, yachts come in different types. Yachts can be categorized based on size and purpose, among others. Let’s take a closer look at the different yachts that fall under each of these categories.
When it comes to size, you can buy a smaller yacht, medium-size yacht, mega yacht or a super yacht. As you may expect, the bigger the yacht, the more it’s going to cost you to buy and maintain.
Smaller yachts range between 10 meters to 20 meters. The majority of smaller yachts are usually privately owned. They are mainly used for water recreational activities like water sports or cruising. These yachts can be sail-driven, motor-driven or a combination of both.
Medium-size yachts range from around 20 meters to 30 meters. They are ideal for tourist groups or bigger families. Medium-sized yachts may have a small crew for operating and maintaining them.
These yachts measure around 30 to 50 meters long. They come with several nice features like sky lounges, Jacuzzis, bars and dining rooms. They can be sail-driven or motor-driven. Superyachts also have a professional crew for serving the people on board.
These are the biggest yachts currently. They are usually owned by super-rich individuals since they are quite costly. Some are also owned by organizations that offer water tourism. Megayachts measure around 50 meters long or even more. Similar to superyachts, mega yachts also have a dedicated crew that works round the clock. They are also adequately outfitted with numerous luxurious facilities and amenities like cafeterias, swimming pools, suite rooms, restaurants, gyms, conference banquets and pubs, just to name a few.
Different yachts are built for different purposes and target markets. Some of the different yachts that fall under this category include:
As their name suggests, these yachts are mainly built for moving around or vacationing. Cruiser yachts come in different types and sizes. They are built for long-distance trips. Luxury yachts usually fall under this category.
These yachts are built for short fast traps and water sports activities. They are quite compact and smaller in size than most of the other yachts. And as you may expect, their accommodation spaces are also limited.
Fishing yachts are purposely built for fishing and leisurely activities. They come with adequate space for storing fishing gear. These yachts come with open decks, to make fishing easier. While you can use them in various fishing spots, they are not allowed for deep-sea fishing.
If you love exploring or touring using water vessels, then expedition yachts are the perfect fit for you. They are built for long-distance water trips and vacations. Expedition yachts are given permission to explore remote and uncharted locations, which is usually not the case with cruiser yachts.
Trawler yachts are also fishing vessels. However, they are built for large-scale or commercial fishing. But unlike ordinary fishing yachts, trawler yachts come with some comforts like sleeping bunks, since the crew may spend several months fishing.
Comfort and Livability
You can live on both a houseboat and a yacht. However, yachts tend to be more expensive compared to houseboats per square footage. Therefore, for the average person, a houseboat provides the most practical, affordable and convenient option.
Houseboat Floor Plan
The floor plan of a houseboat resembles that of a conventional house. As for the yacht, its floor plan resembles that of a conventional boat. For a houseboat, there will be a living room, bathroom, bedrooms and a fully-equipped kitchen, meaning it accommodate an entire family.
Considering that houseboats have a shape that is almost similar to that of a residential home, you will notice that their layouts are also similar. So, in case you live in an area where property prices are too high, you can simply opt for a houseboat. You will have almost similar living quarters at an affordable cost.
Yacht Floor Plan
As earlier mentioned, yachts are mainly designed for leisure activities like water sports, boat parties, fishing and weekend getaways. Therefore, they are mainly designed for vacationing and not long-term living in the water.
As for the floor plan, its layout will be similar to that of a boat. However, a yacht will come with more luxury features and comforts compared to a conventional boat. For instance, most speedboats don’t have indoor living spaces. They usually come with a captain’s seat and a bench. Some may also have a low table, but this feature is quite rare in speedboats.
A yacht, on the other hand, will have several luxurious features, which you can’t find in a speedboat. The main issue with yachts is that interior space is quite limited. While it may appear posh and luxurious, it lacks enough space, meaning it’s not ideal for long-term living on the water. Also, yachts tend to have limited headroom, compared to houseboats.
When you compare the two, you will conclude that a houseboat will be cheaper per square footage, compared to a yacht. If you browse the prices for these two water vessels of comparable size, you will notice that a yacht will cost you considerably more than a houseboat.
Wrapping It Up
A houseboat and a yacht are similar in various ways. Both are built for people that want to spend time in the water. But, they also have considerable differences. A houseboat is more of a floating house, designed for those who want to establish a permanent residence on water. Yachts, on the other hand, are ideal for recreational purposes. So, if you are looking to settle permanently close to a water body, then a houseboat will be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if you are planning on going for a vacation or other water-based recreational activities, then a small yacht will serve you well.