How to Live on a Houseboat

Maria Scinto

Have you ever wanted to just chuck everything and run off to sea? Well, how about something a little bit more attainable? Houseboat living is an affordable way to enjoy life on the water while still having access to all of the amenities of dry land.

Live on a Houseboat
  1. Rent a houseboat for a short vacation before committing to living on one full-time. Spending a week or more on a boat will give you a good idea of whether you are well-suited to life in such cramped (and often damp) quarters.

  2. Check out the marinas near where you plan to be living. If you plan to buy a new houseboat, not one currently docked at a marina, you'll need to check whether there will be space available. Even if your boat comes with a guaranteed berth, you should check into the monthly fees and assess your transportation options. Is there any type of public transportation nearby, or will you need a car for shopping or getting to work? If so, where will you be able to park the car?

  3. Pare down your possessions. Houseboats tend to be somewhat limited in space and remember, it's not like you'll be able to store anything in your yard or put up an outdoor shed.

  4. Make sure that everything you keep can be waterproofed, or kept in moisture-proof containers. Even if your ship is permanently docked, many houseboat owners tell of permanent damp that can cause food to go stale, clothes to smell of mildew and paint to peel.

  5. Take precautions to ensure the safety of any children, pets, and even adults who will be living on board the boat. Even though you may remain docked in relatively shallow water, it is water, so you want to make sure that everyone is able to swim and that life jackets are available. Remember, in event of sudden heavy rainfall, you could find yourself in much deeper water than you anticipated.

  6. Relax and enjoy your incomparable view. Life on the water can have its difficulties, but nearly everyone who's ever tried it described it as a fantastic experience.

  7. Tip

    Houseboat marinas can be found not only in coastal areas but often inland on lakes.


    The Coast Guard warns houseboat dwellers not to run their boat's generators when the boat is not underway if the aft deck is in use, as this could result in carbon monoxide poisoning.