Popular Houseboating States | LakeWizard

Houseboating is a fun and affordable activity and a great way to live, especially in these seven states.

Houseboating is most prevalent in Texas, Arizona, Missouri, Minnesota, Florida, Kentucky, and California. These states host numerous liveaboards, houseboat rental agencies, and plenty of vessels on the market.

In this article, we'll cover seven of the best states for houseboating, along with some of the best locations they have to offer. Additionally, we'll go over some of the houseboat-friendly aspects of each state, including weather, affordability, and events.

We sourced the information used in this article from local travel guides and the experience of avid houseboat enthusiasts.

Table of contents


1. Texas

Texas is one of the most popular houseboating states in the country, both due to its size and numerous lakes and rivers. Texas has hundreds of small waterways that are ideal for houseboats and warm weather most of the year as well.

Plus, the cost of living is comparatively low to many other states, so it's a popular place for retiring aboard a houseboat. Additionally, Texas has very few laws that make it difficult to live aboard a boat, and most localities don't prohibit marinas from allowing liveaboards.

Texas is a huge state, so you're bound to find more people living on houseboats here. And it's true—plus, there are lots of houseboats on the market in the state and several places where you can rent one for a week or two.

Most houseboats in Texas are located in the eastern and southern parts of the state. These areas are green and have a more tropical and wet climate than the northern part of the state. In fact, the northern and western regions of Texas are so dry that houseboats are rarely found, except in a few prominent areas.

South Texas houseboats hang out around rivers and lakes—most of which lead to the Gulf. There are a few houseboats around the Intracoastal Waterway as well, but these hardly ever venture out into the Gulf.

2. Arizona

Arizona is one of the best states to rent a houseboat, as the climate there is almost purpose-made for these vessels. Plus, the environment features numerous stunning lakes and waterways, including Lake Havasu on the California border.

Arizona houseboating is known across the country, as the lakes where these vessels exist are easy to navigate, and the scenery is stunning. Much of Arizona has a hot and favorable climate, and it's a dry heat that doesn't drain all the life out of you.

Some of the best houseboating lakes in the country are located in Arizona at various elevations. Lake Havasu is the most popular, but Lake Powell is one of the longest and largest.

At 254 miles square, Lake Powell offers seclusion and breathtaking desert scenery, along with affordable houseboat rentals for most people. Additionally, the lake is long enough to find a quiet spot to anchor out for the day—or the week.

Other lakes in Arizona, such as Lake Pleasant and Theodore Roosevelt Lake, are popular destinations that make for great house boating. Plus, the state is relatively cheap to live in, and the freshwater environment makes maintaining and storing houseboats easy.

3. Missouri

Could houseboating really be that popular in Missouri? It is—and the environment is some of the best in the country for houseboaters. Missouri is crisscrossed in every direction by rivers and navigable waterways, which offer the perfect environment for houseboats.

The Mississippi River runs right along the eastern border of Missouri, and the Missouri River intersects it along the middle of the state. Both rivers have extensive navigable waterways, which are home to lots of recreational and commercial traffic.

Houseboating in Missouri is part of the waterfront culture. People have lived on floating houses in Missouri for generations, and modern houseboats are just a nicer and more luxurious continuation of that basic idea. Some people do it for utility—but most do it because they like the lifestyle.

 There are numerous liveaboard marinas around Missouri that welcome houseboats and several that rent out houseboats of various types for vacations and recreation. Missouri law is houseboat-friendly, and few localities have any issue with liveaboards.

There are also houseboat services, repair yards, and dealerships in Missouri that serve locals and clients from other states, who often make their way up or down the river in their houseboats. And it's not just the rivers—Missouri is also home to numerous lakes and channels that are perfect for houseboats.

4. Florida

Florida is a boater's paradise. Boat culture of all kinds is huge in Florida, and it rivals the world for infrastructure, marinas, and water travel destinations. You can find or buy virtually any kind of boat in Florida, including houseboats.

Florida has a lot of saltwater, which isn't necessarily great for houseboats. However, docking and maintaining houseboats is exceptionally cheap in many parts of the state, which makes the additional expense and maintenance well worth it.

Everyone knows that Florida is famous for its hot and soupy weather, but winters can be quite mild, and most new houseboats have air conditioning. You can find a liveaboard marina in a. cove, on the coast, or up to one of the state's many rivers.

Rental houseboats are also exceptionally easy to find in many parts of Florida, even along inland waterways. Houseboats can't really go out to sea, but they can certainly cruise around rivers and coves. A quick Google search reveals almost two dozen houseboat rental companies and locations across all parts of the state.

5. Minnesota

Minnesota is the land of thousands of lakes. And as you can imagine, houseboats are quite common in the state. Minnesota is the ideal houseboating destination for people who aren't so enchanted by Arizona's heat or Florida's humidity.

The scenery in Minnesota is often breathtaking, and the state is known for its luscious green forests and pristine farmland. Lakes abound in the state, and so do marinas that service houseboats. And, there are tons of places to rent houseboats in Minnesota. Indeed, tons of places.

A Google search reveals more than 50 houseboat rental locations across the state. The quality and capacity of these locations vary, but the eastern part of Minnesota is positively teeming with opportunities to rent, buy, or stay aboard a houseboat.

The winters in Minnesota are harsh and probably worth considering if you plan on living aboard. However, some people do it, though it's easier in some parts of the state than in others. But if you're looking for an economical houseboating vacation in the beautiful scenery, then you can't go wrong with Minnesota.

6. Kentucky

Houseboats are extremely popular in some parts of Kentucky. The state is home to a surprising number of lakes and rivers, also has a very houseboat-friendly climate and few restrictive laws on living aboard in most locations.

Kentucky is a geographically diverse state, and some areas are more ideal for houseboats than others. But places like Lake Cumberland are world-class houseboating destinations and offer some of the most extensive houseboat activities anywhere.

But what makes Lake Cumberland so special? It's not just the lake—it's the culture. Lake Cumberland itself is a state resort park and a reservoir that covers over 102 square miles in the south-central region of the state.

The lake is large and deep enough for almost all kinds of boating, and it's a regional hotspot for recreational water sports. The lake hosts the largest annual boat raft-up in the world, and it's home to numerous houseboats and houseboat rental opportunities.

Lake Cumberland has one of the largest concentrations of houseboats in the world. Over 1,500 houseboats on the lake, which is astounding and far outpaces even famous houseboating locations like Sausalito, California.

Kentucky is an excellent state for fishing as well. Most lakes and rivers in the state that accommodate houseboats are also home to large numbers of brown trout, rainbow trout, sturgeon, striped bass, and walleye.

7. California

California isn't the cheapest or most accessible location for houseboats, but it's far and away the most beautiful. Some of the most scenic and picturesque houseboating is available in California, and the state has almost every kind of natural environment to offer.

You can rent a houseboat and explore desert waterways, enjoy the mild climate of San Francisco Bay, or navigate around picturesque Lake Shasta in the untouched Sierra Nevada mountain range.

California has laid-back houseboating locations that offer the perfect conditions for living aboard or recreation. The Sacramento/San Joaquin River Delta is one of the best places to own and use a houseboat.

Locals call it "the delta," and it's an extensive corridor of rivers and canals that are calm and expansive. Liveaboard restrictions in the area are ignored or non-existent, and the weather is usually warm and favorable.

Lake Berryessa is another popular houseboat destination that is a reasonably short drive from the San Francisco Bay Area. And if the community is key, then check out the world's most famous and unique houseboat community in Sausalito.

Sausalito, which is located in the northern part of San Francisco Bay, is well-known for its large liveaboard community. There's even a houseboat Homeowner's Association on the waterfront, and the lifestyle is vigorously defended by the residents.