Houseboat mooring generally costs more than sailboats or power boats, but it’s still affordable in most areas.
The average price to moor a houseboat ranges from $300 to $2,000 per month, depending on size and usage. Liveaboards usually pay additional fees due to utility usage, though some marinas only charge a flat rate.
In this article, we’ll cover the average cost to moor a houseboat based on size and liveaboard status. Additionally, we’ll go over the metrics marinas use to determine how much to charge, along with ways to reduce mooring costs.
We sourced the information for this article from the houseboat community. Additionally, we compared known mooring costs from several marinas located around the United States.
Are Houseboats More Expensive to Dock?
Yes, in many cases, houseboats can be up to twice as expensive to dock as other boats. But why such a big price disparity? To understand the additional costs, we have to examine how typical marinas work.
Marinas have two types of mooring options: docks and slips. A slip is a C-shaped dock with outcroppings on either side. These slips vary widely in width, and some are as narrow as 10 feet across. At many marinas, wide boat slips allow two average-sized sailboats to dock side by side. This reduces costs for sailboats, as they only pay roughly 1/2 of the slip price.
Houseboats and larger powerboats rarely enjoy the same luxury. With a beam of 10 feet or more, a houseboat almost always needs to pay for a full slip, assuming that it’s short enough to fit in it.
Many houseboats, especially those 40 feet and longer, are too long for slips and restricted to dock space. And given that slips are far more space-efficient, docking along a pier at the marina usually costs more than renting a large slip.
This rule is only the case at typical marinas, which cater mostly to sailboats and powerboats. Specifically-designed houseboat communities usually have more space and favorable pricing. These locations offer the best value, as they provide houseboat-oriented facilities and services for roughly the same price as a typical marina slip.
How Docking and Slip Fees are Calculated
Slip fees are calculated in several ways. Typically, boats are divided into size classes and assigned a slip type. For example, small “A” docks for 15-20 feet LOA, standard-sized “B” docks for 20-35 feet, and oversized “C” docks for 40+ feet, and vessels with unusually wide beams.
After finding a slip that fits, a flat fee is charged on top of an extra price-per-foot assessment. Displacement and draft sometimes play a part, but usually only in areas with low tides and shallow water issues.
Some marinas charge extra for utilities. Other marinas actually meter power and water, which is more common in houseboat communities than standard marinas that have few liveaboards.
Average Price to Dock a Houseboat
Average prices vary primarily based on length and location. One factor that you need to consider before examining prices is whether or not you plan to live aboard. Many marinas charge an additional fee of between $100 and $500 per month for liveaboards, which often cover utilities and 24/7 dock access.
In the chart above, we took the average mooring prices along with the extremes from either end of the price spectrum. Keep in mind that prices vary and are likely to cost less than the numbers indicated, not more. This is because the highest-priced marinas (luxury yacht clubs, desirable slips in major cities) throw the numbers off balance.
The affordability of docking a houseboat varies, but it’s usually well within the means of anyone who can afford a houseboat in the first place. Rates in towns and cities are often lower than the average rent in the area, and waterfront properties cost many times more what a houseboat slip usually does.
Average Cost by Region
Location is one of the most important factors in houseboat slip pricing. Some of the information we found about regional costs is unsurprising—areas like San Francisco and New York City have extremely expensive mooring costs, whereas docks in smaller communities are much more affordable.
What was surprising was some of the areas where prices were surprisingly low. For example, docking fees in popular parts of Florida are unusually affordable relative to the cost of real estate in the area. Additionally, desirable houseboat locations like Lake Havasu, Arizona, have affordable slip fees.
How to Lower Houseboat Slip Fees
There are a few ways to reduce the cost of mooring your houseboat. The first and easiest way is to start with a smaller vessel. Choose the largest boat you can within a reasonable size range. For example, choosing a 29-foot houseboat gets you the same amenities as a 30-foot model but with a lower length-based slip fee.
Another option is to reduce your dependency on shore-based utilities. Offer to meter power and report the results to the marina monthly. Small marinas may reduce your liveaboard rate if you prove that you’re efficient and a low financial burden. You can also install solar panels and a wind turbine to replace shore power and ask for a fee reduction in return.
Finally, you can simply shop around and switch marinas. Find a marina with a higher proportion of houseboats. You’re likely to get a better bang for your buck at a specialized community marina, and you’ll be surrounded by like-minded neighbors who understand the houseboat lifestyle.
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