How To Live On Houseboat | LakeWizard

Those who have never been on a houseboat are often fascinated by the concept of living on the water. So, how do you live on a houseboat?

Living on a houseboat is quite like living on land. You have your amenities, like electricity, food, and water, and even working toilets and a plumbing system. However, there are different challenges to living on the water, like resupplying the essentials and taking the right safety precautions. 

While it is okay to invest in a houseboat, you should also know how to live in one because there are a few factors to consider once you decide to make a houseboat your new home.

As people who have lived on our own houseboats for extended periods of time, we know all there is to know about living aboard these magnificent vessels. We can guide new houseboat owners who want to know how to live on a houseboat and make do with the limited space.

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Life on a Houseboat

Life on a houseboat can be an amazing experience. Not only do you get to wake up to 360-degree views of the lake you're on, but you also have easy access to all of the water sports and activities that one only gets to enjoy during vacations. Since you'll be living on a houseboat, all water sports, such as boating, kayaking, and fishing that others enjoy only during their vacations, can be your usual morning or evening activities.

Most importantly, houseboat owners never have to bother about lawn maintenance again. Also, depending on which state you're living in, there may also be some monetary perks of calling a houseboat your home, since in some states, houseboat owners do not have to pay property taxes, which is just another reason to pack up your belongings and move to a houseboat.

Other than the fact that you're on the water, living in a houseboat is quite like living in a camper van. You have limited space, and you have to make the most of it. This includes finding a place to store your essentials and keeping up with regular maintenance tasks to ensure that everything is in proper working condition. After all, if the bathroom (more on that later) stops working when you're out on the water, what are you going to do?

Parking Your Houseboat

This is definitely one thing you don't have to worry about when you live in an apartment. The cost of parking or docking a houseboat can range from nothing to thousands of dollars per month. There are public waters where you may moor your houseboat and live for free. However, if you want your houseboat to be conveniently accessible from land, you'll need to dock it correctly. Dock owners demand rent in the same way as regular landlords do. Dock rents, on the other hand, are generally far less expensive than apartment rents.

You should expect to spend anywhere from a few hundred dollars to $1,000 per month for a dock spot you choose, depending on its location and where you live. You should also be able to power your houseboat without using the motor if the dock has an electrical outlet nearby.

Of course, it goes without saying that you will have to pay utilities for the water and electricity that you are going to be using on the houseboat, along with the dock's rental fee as well.

Using the "Facilities"

One of the questions that many people ask regarding houseboats is – do they have bathrooms? In case you were wondering, houseboats do have regular bathrooms. A houseboat bathroom may even appear identical to a modest residential bathroom that you will find in any other apartment, but the two are not the same, of course. The plumbing is what sets them apart.

When you flush the toilet in a more conventional bathroom, the waste is flushed into the city's main sewage system. But on a houseboat, sewage water is kept in either a massive underground storage tank or smaller tank, depending on the houseboat you live in.

As a result, you must have your house boat's sewage tank emptied either daily or weekly, depending on its usage. The good news is that due to the growing popularity of houseboats, you should have no problem finding a local firm that can drain the sewage tank on your houseboat; most seaside areas have a lot of them.


If you have pets, you have a lot to consider before you bring them along with you to live on your houseboat. This is mainly because pets do not always flourish aboard houseboats. That said, there are some exceptions, depending on what type of pet you have. If your boat is moored in a body of water, you should generally avoid having a pet. However, if your houseboat is docked at a marina (like us), you should be okay.

Even if your houseboat is moored at a marina, you must keep in mind that pets, particularly dogs, require exercise. As a result, you should plan on getting them off the houseboat and walking or jogging around the marina on a daily basis.

Also, it wouldn't hurt to ask the dock owner if there is any specific policy towards having pets because some marinas may have strict rules when it comes to having pets live on a houseboat. This is why it is best to ensure that the dock or marina you choose has pet-friendly policies so your furry friend can feel comfortable onboard.

Safety Precautions

Safety is something that you can never take for granted, whether you're living in a house on land or on a houseboat. If you are going to have youngsters onboard, be sure to take the necessary steps to ensure their safety, including the safety of toddlers and pets. Even if you're parked in relatively shallow water, it's still water, so it pays to make sure everybody on board at least knows how to swim. Those who don't know how to swim should have easy access to life jackets. Keep in mind that you may find yourself in considerably deeper water if there is a sudden downpour.

Houseboats that are anchored at the harbor or marina have also been known to come undone during a storm, so you'll probably have to lasso your boat back if that happens. Also, during storm season, the surge in water can also damage the piping system of the houseboat if it's attached to the mainline on land. These are some very real concerns for those thinking of living on a houseboat all year around.


Brian Samson

Brian Samson

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.

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