The 10 Pros and 10 Cons of Living in a Houseboat

Tiny Houseboat

The progression of the tiny house just keeps getting better. Tiny houses started out from small cabins, were then ready to be put on wheels — now culminating in the addition of the tiny houseboat. It is precisely what it sounds like: a tiny home that floats on water. No more are you tethered to land that you have to buy! But, like any living situation, living on tiny houseboats can have its pros and cons.

The Pros of tiny houseboat living:

  • The View: Waking up every morning to a view of the ocean or lake is never boring. Watching the waves, hearing the birds and smelling the salt air is a refreshing way to start your day. And with a houseboat, it’s easy to simply change your view any time you feel like it.
  • Save money: That’s right, living on a boat is cheaper. The price of a tiny houseboat is far lower than that of a typical home. A boat is not deemed real property like a house is, so there are no property taxes to meet. There are, however, personal property taxes similar to a car.
  • It’s Greener: It’s feasible to become more environmentally mindful living on a tiny houseboat. You use fewer supplies like water, fuel, and electricity and rely on unconventional, greener and natural alternatives, which is better for the planet.
  • Soothing Lifestyle: The pace of life on a houseboat is slower. Everything on a boat simply has a relaxing quality and will help you find peace.
  • Mobility – Living on a boat is the highest flexibility of lifestyle. You can go anywhere in the world on a boat. Never a dull moment on average days and easy to access conveniences as needed.
  • Living the Dream: Having the option to go fishing as you step out of your backdoor has an appeal like nothing else. If you get a houseboat, you immediately become “that friend with the cool house boat”, and is bound to raise eyebrows!
  • Goodbye Insomnia!: You might never experience a better nights’ sleep than when you’re lulled by the soft movement and sounds of the waves lapping against the side of your houseboat. Keeping a hatch open and gazing at the open sky and stars has a powerful, calming effect!
  • Water Sport: Just outside your tiny floating home you have access to plenty of water sports that you can engage in. Improve your fishing skills, and you can be eating fresh fish for breakfast, lunch, and dinner when you want. If you feel like water skiing or taking your jet ski out in the twilight hours before going to bed, just step out from the deck of your own house.
  • Dive for Salvage: One of the new ‘watersports’ to try out could be diving for salvage. Many items are lost at sea or sink below the surface of a lake due to unexpected circumstances, never to be revived — until you come along. Spending your time diving from your houseboat could end up being an exciting, lucrative hobby to whittle your time away.  
  • No yard maintenance: There is absolutely no yard maintenance when you live on the sea or on the side of a river. You won’t need to shovel the snow or mow your lawn ever again on a houseboat! 
Tiny Houseboat

The Cons of tiny houseboat living:

  • Creature comforts: Most inexpensive live-aboard boats do not have hot showers and laundry. They also have a lack of any freely usable storage. If you can’t bear the thought of never having bubble baths, then living on a boat is not for you. 
  • Claustrophobia: One of the issues for many tiny homeowners is the lack of open storage areas. If the house is devised without assigned ‘battened down’ areas for storage, it can start to feel cluttered and claustrophobic. Living in a small space floating on water is further compounded by needing to store (and quickly access) water protection gear and other boat accessories. 
  • The Motion: It may be smart to test out if your body can endure the constant movement of remaining on the water before buying your tiny houseboat. Your stomach may be ready to withstand some hours on a lake, but living on the ocean is a whole other thing. The home would be in a continuous sway that on occasion may make everyday tasks like showering or cooking difficult. Find out if you can rent a houseboat for a week or so to experiment. 
  • Enduring Nature: Owning a home that remains on the water is placing you at the mercy of the harsh natural elements. Living near the water opens you up to a more significant number of water-loving bugs (like mosquitoes) that might find their way into your house, or in the event of a massive storm, the probability of damage to your home. 
  • Expenses: Fuel is expensive. So is docking rentals and repairs. If damage occurs to the underside of your boat, it may cause it to be unliveable and might be costly to repair. 
  • Maintenance as a Hobby: Having a boat requires regular care and maintenance, so if you believe a boat is purely about relaxing, you might want to think again! There’s always something to clean, paint, polish, scrape, and work on. This is particularly true if you are in saltwater. 
  • Privacy & Noise: If you live in a yacht club, there are always a lot of people around coming and going. This can make it challenging to get the privacy you need. Hearing your neighbors argue, chat on the phone, or host weekly deck parties might not be your dream of a peaceful existence. And most houseboats don’t come with heavy double or triple glazing. You might want to invest in heavy curtains to darken your windows against curious visitors.
  • Security: Securing your houseboat can be a little more complicated than locking the front entrance on a regular tiny house. Most boat hatches are quickly bypassed, so it’s essential to check and upgrade where possible.
  • Proximity to Neighbors:  Sometimes, the neighbours will be docked too close for comfort. Some places have docking rules that cram you up against the next boat, and in some places they are docked next to you blocking out your river or ocean view.
  • Logistics – There are many unique challenges to boat living: docking a houseboat, locating a docking space in a popular location or finding parking spaces for your other vehicles, etc. Even mundane stuff like having internet access can be extra challenging on a boat.

Considering the pros and cons of any big purchase is a wise practice. Create a list of pros and cons that are relevant to you and your lifestyle, before diving headfirst into the world of a tiny houseboat owner. 

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