How much does a houseboat
 cost to own, run and operate?

The real Houseboat Cost of Ownership.

Part of the dream or purchase plan of a houseboat, has to include and consider the REAL amounts that ownership involves. Some of the areas of interest, can be hidden or visible, one-time or continual expenses.

Many first-time buyers forget to look into all aspects involved in owning and operating a houseboat. To better help potential buyers understand the extent of hidden houseboat costs, we've provided a simple, basic guide to review.

Cost and Expenses of Houseboat Ownership?

Cost of Houseboat Ownership

The costs are a combination of many factors so we're going to look at some of the one-time expenses, and others that are continous costs.

To help to calculate the Houseboat Cost of Ownership, review the cost topics below:
  • Pre-Purchase Costs  

  • Finance Costs

  • Renovations

  • Storage Fees

  • Repairs

  • Depreciation

  • Operating Costs
  • Marine Surveys

  • Transport Costs 

  • Marina Fees

  • Maintenance

  • Fuel Costs

  • Insurance

  • Sales Tax

  • Pre-Purchase Costs
    One area that someone shouldn't forget is the cost of time and money involved in the search of the "perfect" houseboat. This could be for car or flight expenses, for hotel rooms, for meals or travel expenses on the road.

    Marine Surveys
    One of the best pieces of advice that I can recommend, Get a Marine Survey !!! Due to insurance or financing requirements, and in your best interest, a marine survey is an excellent idea. It can reduce the chance of you purchasing a boat that has hidden or extensive damage. Marine Survey prices vary according to location, but a ball park figure can be 15-30$ per foot (boat length x fee).

    Finance Costs
    If you're looking to finance a boat purchase, there is always a cost involved in getting a bank loan, a line of credit, or even an "indirect cost" in borrowing from family. Always take this into account, since it can be a short term, or long term obligation. You can always get current finance rates or prepare by getting pre-approved for a boat loan.

    Transport Costs
    If you find a boat in another area, just remember that there is the cost of transporting the boat form one location to another. If your purchase is local, you could possibly navigate the by the rivers and lakes, or have it professionally moved. Be sure to verify the credentials of any transport company that will be moving your boat.
    Better safe, than sorry.

    Typically, after the purchase of a used boat, there is always some form of renovating to be done, to put your personal style and flair into your newly acquired boat. Prices depend on whether you are remodeling, upgrading equipment, or doing minor or major repairs.

    Marina Fees
    Typically, there are low, medium, and high end marina available. Prices vary depending on location and services. Marina fees are generally calculated according to the length of the houseboat. Now depending on the size of your houseboat, you could spend from $1000/yr for a no-frills slip, to $8-10,000/yr for a full-service high end marina slip.

    Storage Fees
    If you intend to boat in an area where the boat has to be stored in the winter, remember to take into account winter storage fees. The boatyards generally charge fees depending on boat length, and also charge extra for winterizing, shrink wrapping, and haul outs.

    Just as a car needs maintenance, so does your boat. Items that need attention are similar, oil changes, ignition, propellers, anodes, outdrives, anti-fouling paint, roof maintenance, etc… Depending on your "mechanical" aptitude, you can do a fair portion of it yourself. However, some jobs are better left off to professionals.

    Everything in the world is going to break, the only difference is that we don't know WHAT, WHEN, or WHY !!! You will want to put @10% of your yearly boating budget for any potential repairs. Keep part of your boating budget for the inevitable.

    Fuel Costs
    Just as the human body doesn't run on "love", neither can your boat, therefore depending on the size of your boat, fuel costs can go up exponentially. You can use the figure of @ 1 MPG to give you a general idea. The beauty about houseboats, is that you can enjoy yourself "wherever you go".

    Unlike the housing market, homes will generally increase in value, however, boats generally decrease in value. Naturally the greater depreciation occurs in the first few years than gradually decreases. Depending on your area, there maybe state or regional taxes on your used boat purchase.

    In regards to houseboat insurance, policy prices vary according to company and policy conditions stipulated. Fortunately you can get a free no obligation quote to get an idea of the cost. Naturally the cost to insure a $10,000 boat is less than insuring a $200,000 boat. The majority of marinas require boats to have a minimum amount of liability coverage.

    Operating Costs
    Your budget should make provisions for the day to day costs of the operation of your boat. Expenses can be costs that come from the upkeep or replacement of wear and tear items such as Fenders, Ropes, Power Cables, Bimini's, Equipment, Engine rebuilds etc…

    Sales Tax
    You don't want to forget about Sales Tax. This can be a major expense on the purchase price of a houseboat cost. Depending on your location some areas are exempt from sales tax on "used houseboats". Verify to see if your area qualifies.

    You get the idea, the REAL Houseboat Cost of Ownership has so many variables. When calculating your boating budget you have to look at whether you are buying NEW or USED, and what area you want to be boating in. Once you take the time to evaluate your personal situation, it is than that you will be really able to enjoy the houseboat lifestyle.

    Pick out your dream boat, calculate the costs and expenses, than go out and enjoy what your houseboat can do… :)

    To go into greater details on the cost of ownership,
    follow the links to see a expanded discussion.

    Wondering which type, or model to consider ?

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