Houseboats vary greatly in price. A used one might only cost thousands; a new luxury boat might cost millions. Many new ones cost between $100K and $200K.
While many people can afford a houseboat, you need to estimate the costs properly, or you might regret the purchase. A houseboat requires repairs, and while it can be cheap to live on a houseboat, you should not underestimate your living expenses. You also have to pay for insurance.
Houseboats often cost around $125,000 to $250,000. The average price is about $150,000 for a new houseboat or $50,000 for a used one. A houseboat can cost tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions, or even more dollars.
Houseboats from some companies are cheaper than others, so you may be able to get a good quality new houseboat for a reasonable price. The size of a houseboat, the engine, the features it has, and the materials it is made out of all affect the price.
I bought a houseboat ten years ago and have taken it all over North America. I know many people with houseboats and understand what a reasonable price for a new or used houseboat with certain features is.
There is An Enormous Range of Prices
The few most expensive yachts ever cost more than a billion dollars, and a dilapidated houseboat that needs major repairs might sell for less than a thousand. $125,000 or $250,000 is enough to get a high-quality new houseboat that is more than good enough for most people. $300,000 can get you something much more luxurious and impressive.
What Was the Most Expensive Houseboat Anyone Ever Built?
The most expensive houseboat ever made may have been the History Supreme, a unique 100-foot yacht with many expensive materials used in the construction. The houseboat is worth an incredible $4.8 billion dollars. While the yacht is not history-themed, it does include a lot of dinosaur bones as well as precious metals, greatly adding to its price.
It will likely remain the most expensive houseboat in the world for a long time unless another billionaire decides to outdo it. The second most expensive yacht in the world is worth less than a third as much as the history supreme. Some yachts are much bigger than the history supreme (for example, the eclipse is 536 feet long and requires a crew of at least 70), but they do not use such expensive materials.
There are not many billion-dollar houseboats out there. The History Supreme, the Eclipse, and the Admiral X Force might be the only three that are worth a billion. However, there are many houseboats that cost well over 100 million dollars.
Houseboats, Floating Houses, and Yachts
Houseboats are different from and usually cheaper than either floating houses or yachts. A floating house is a house, not a boat - it stays in the same spot. Floating houses are for people who want a home that floats on the water, not a boat they can travel around in.
Floating homes are expensive. For example, 13 homes that sold in Seattle went for anywhere from $350,000 to $2,080,000 dollars. Houseboats are usually significantly cheaper - they only cost half as much per square foot of living space as floating homes.
Yachts VS Regular Houseboats
Unlike houseboats, yachts can go out on the open sea safely. Rough water is not too dangerous for a yacht. Houseboats have more living space for their price but cannot handle the open ocean.
While houseboats look somewhat like houses, yachts have a more sleek, streamlined shape. Yachts have typical boat shapes, with hulls that can cut through the water easily to travel quickly. For their price, yachts are smaller, so a small yacht someone can afford might be too small to work as a houseboat.
Yachts need to be lighter and sturdier than houseboats, so they are more expensive. The materials required to build them cost more as a yacht needs to be built for speed, agility, and the open sea. If you are considering a yacht, understand that it won't be good for a long-term home unless you have a lot of money to spend.
Motorized VS Unmotorized Houseboats
Not all houseboats are motorized. There are also unmotorized houseboats, which are not the same as floating houses. While floating houses are supposed to stay in place, unmotorized boats can easily be towed.
If you plan to travel around the country, get a motorized houseboat. Towing a houseboat is expensive, and you won't want to do it very often. Get a houseboat with a decent engine instead, even if the engine adds to the price of a houseboat.
What Does it Cost to Live On a Houseboat?
One big part of the expense is maintenance. You may have to spend about $1000 per month keeping your houseboat in good condition. Sometimes, it can cost about 10% of a houseboat's price per year to maintain it.
River, Trailerable, Pontoon, Barge, and Full Hull Houseboats
River houseboats are relatively cheap ($25K to $80K) fiberglass boats you can park on rivers and use as a primary or holiday residence.
Trailerable houseboats are a good choice if you want a smaller, durable, steel houseboat that you probably won't live on full time. You can easily transport them across the country on land, on the back of a compact truck. They cost about 70,000 dollars.
Pontoon houseboats are the cheapest - sometimes, you might find a used one in reasonable condition for only $10,000. They are easy to get into the water, easy to use, and safe, but not very luxurious options. Full hull houseboats have storage space under their rooms so that you won't have to clutter up your living space.
What Are Rent Costs?
Usually, you will only have to spend $500 per month or $250 per month for your spot at a Marina. This is only a fairly small part of your total monthly cost, much less than maintenance/repairs.
Examples of Houseboat Costs
A luxury houseboat can easily cost one or two million new. However, you can get a used luxury houseboat for only about $200,000, so more than a few people might be able to afford one. Cheaper, used houseboats cost:
- $10K to $20K for used pontoon houseboats
- $35K to $40K for used full hull houseboats
- $15K to $40K for a used river houseboat
- $25K to $45K for a used barge houseboat
Houseboats for Retired People
Many people buy boats after they retire, from houseboats to sailboats. While you still have to be quite energetic to be out on a sailboat in the ocean, you only need to be reasonably healthy to live on a houseboat. Some health problems can make living on a houseboat unsafe, but healthy older people can safely and comfortably live on houseboats.
With a mobile houseboat, you won't be bored during your retirement. You can travel all over the east coast, the west coast, Canada, Europe, Australia, Amsterdam, and many other places. You will enjoy great scenery and live a happy life wherever you go.
Another great advantage of houseboats is that you can relocate to a warmer climate during the winter. If you don't want to permanently leave Canada, the United States, or Northern Europe, you can live there during the summer and head further south when it starts to get dark and cold.
Where Should You Retire On a Houseboat?
Many of the best locations are in North America as well as further south. Don't overlook northern locations that are great whenever the weather is warm.
Some of the best locations include The Great Lakes in Michigan and in Ontario, Tomahawk Island in Portland, Oregon, and Fraser River in British Columbia. Farther south than that is Sausalito, California, and Lake Austin in Texas.
What Kinds of Houseboats are Good for Retirees?
It all depends on what you want to use the houseboat for. If you want to bring 15 friends onto the boat for a houseboat party, you need a reasonable amount of space.
If you want to live on the houseboat full time, it has to be comfortable. If you want to travel around a lot, it must be motorized. Houseboats that are good for other people are also good for retirees, as long as that boat is a good fit for them.
Places to Go With a Houseboat
Whether you are retired or not, there are many great places for people with houseboats to go. You can travel around often, or stay in the same place for many years. People will usually let you stay in the same place for years as long as you pay the rent; they won't limit how long you can stay.
Lake Austin, Texas
Lake Austin near Austin, Texas, is a great place for anyone who loves boats, nature, and relaxation. The water on the lake is calm, and there is beautiful scenery and architecture everywhere. There are houseboats and floating homes everywhere, including luxurious floating mansions.
Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Amsterdam is another great place for yachts, houseboats, and floating homes, including 3-story floating mansions. Some of the best areas are the Amesel River near the city center and the Ijburg District with its extensive floating neighborhoods.
Scarborough Bluffs, Canada
Scarborough bluffs may be the best well-known houseboat spot there is if you want beautiful parks and beaches in a northern location. The Scarborough Bluffs on lake Ontario are near trails, beaches, gardens, and more. Many people with houseboats live there full-time, escaping from the fast pace and stress of regular city life.
Tagg's Island, United Kingdom
Tagg's Island is another impressive floating home neighborhood. It has rows of floating houses, many of which have garages and gardens. Even if you don't want to buy a floating home at Tagg's Island, you can take your houseboat there and stay for a while.
Sausalito, California, is a great town with more than 400 houseboats plus floating homes at its various Marinas. The location attracts lots of great people. Sausalito is just north of the golden gate bridge and is close to lots of great things to see and do.
Can You Take a Houseboat Across the Ocean?'
Usually, you can't take a houseboat out on the open sea because it is not safe. Large waves are too dangerous. Smaller waves are fine, but houseboats are usually not designed to handle larger waves.
You can take a houseboat all over a continent through the rivers, lakes, and coastal sea, but you can't go too far from shore with an average houseboat. You can travel thousands of miles without going into the deep sea - you can go all the way down the Mississippi and down countless other rivers. You can travel all over a country or continent by its waterways.
Unlike regular houseboats, yachts are designed for the open ocean. You might assume that yachts cost millions of dollars and are vastly more expensive than regular riverboats, but that is not always true. You might be able to find a used yacht for only $200K or even $100K, about as much as an average houseboat.
You Can Pay to Move a Houseboat Overseas
While it may be too expensive to consider, you can pay to ship your houseboat overseas. Usually, people do not do this. You can take your houseboat all over North America and South America rather than crossing an ocean.
Questions to Consider in Advance
You need to know what you will be doing with your houseboat long before you buy one. Are you going to live on it permanently, or only use it for vacations, fishing trips, or lengthy traveling?
You also need to know your budget. Can you afford a new houseboat, or will you have to buy it used? It is important not to underestimate the total costs of having a houseboat.
Different Materials: Wood, Fiberglass, Steel, and Aluminum
You can make a houseboat out of any material good for boat building. Wood is popular because it is inexpensive and reasonably strong. It is unfortunately vulnerable to fire and requires repainting.
Wood is a perfectly fine material despite its disadvantages. Carbon fiber, steel, and aluminum are all stronger than wood but more expensive. Steel is very strong, aluminum is light which will give you better fuel costs, and fiberglass won't be corroded by saltwater.
Where Can You Buy Houseboats?
You may be able to find a good deal online. Boat Trader, Appolo Duck, and Buyaboat.net are all good websites with a huge variety of boats available.
If you are buying a used boat, make sure you inspect it or have it inspected professionally. Otherwise, you might be surprised by how many problems the boat has. If you are buying new, you do not have to be as careful but use some caution and common sense whenever making a big purchase.
Don't Underestimate the Total Costs
The last thing you want to do when making a big purchase is to underestimate the real cost or overestimate what you can afford. I don't want to discourage you from buying a houseboat - houseboats are a great investment, and I am certainly glad I bought mine.
However, you do have to plan everything out in advance. Research what the rent at each of the Marinas you will stay at is. Be on the safe side when you estimate the cost of your boat.
While insurance doesn't cost a fortune, it does cost a bit less than $2000 per year, on average. Find an insurance company that will insure boats and ask about their prices in advance.
About THE AUTHOR
I have a deep love of houseboating and the life-changing experiences houseboating has brought into my life. I’ve been going to Lake Powell on our family’s houseboat for over 30 years and have made many great memories, first as a child and now as a parent. My family has a passion for helping others have similar fun, safe experiences on their houseboat.Read More About Brian Samson