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Family Houseboat Living on House Boats Full-Time?

Family Living on Houseboats Full-Time?

Family Living on Houseboats Full-Time?

Is houseboat living for a family of 4 possible full-time, and what should we be concerned about beforehand?

Hi Houseboater's Around the World, we are a family of 4 with 3 dogs/1 cat seriously reviewing the choice to live on a 64 ft 3 bedroom houseboat.

We are both 40 and kids 12 and 9, all of whom have traveled extensively and lived in meager environments around the world making do with minimal space.

I am curious - are there any other families out there with kids that live full-time on a houseboat? What should we be aware of - or consider in moving forward?

Thanks Gang

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Reply - Answer
Well congratulations on your decision on living on a houseboat. You have some homework to do beforehand, as to where, how, what, and especially why you are considering living on a boat.

The one recommendation that I will suggest is to rent or spend a week on a houseboat first as a family, and see if it is a lifestyle choice that could be appealing to everyone.

This simple exercise may prove to be quite fruitful, and allow you to spot some problem issues before going any further.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their own family houseboat living experiences, whether full or part time. Feel free to use the "Click here to post comments." link found near the bottom of this page.

Thanks again for sharing, IAN from all-about-houseboats

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Comments for Family Houseboat Living on House Boats Full-Time?

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I was raised on a houseboat- family of 6
by: Katie S

Yes!!!! You most certainly can raise your family on a houseboat. I am proof of that. I was raised for most of my life on a houseboat with my three brothers.

I don't remember much prior to living on a boat because I was very little when my parents decided to leave land. So it might be a bit more of an adjustment for those that are older and used to a landlubber lifestyle.

But not impossible. My oldest brother was about 10 years old and never quite felt like he belonged whereas my other brothers and I (whom were all very young) were true, grew up to be blue river rats. But every child is different of course. We were also homeschooled so we were truly in our own world, which I think helped deepen our connection to water life because we weren't comparing or envying what other kids had.
All of our friends were boat kids, whether livaboards or vacationers, we were there kids other kids on the water liked hanging around bc we knew the turf and knew how to have fun on the water- fish, surf, sail, dive, et. instead of moping around wishing that we had what land kids had.
Again, I contribute that to the fact that we were homeschooled and we also didn't have the internet or cable. My brothers and I spent our days island hopping with our dingies and fished for our dinners.
My father worked on land but every day he had off he would take the entire houseboat up the river and camp out at our favorite islands (we were on the beautiful Indian River in Florida which is a great brackish water way with many islands and easy access to the ocean) and take long trips along the coast whenever he could. This was able to happen quite a lot because he didn't really have to work very much since we lived so cheaply.
After he sold the house I lived in as a baby, he bought an old houseboat for cash and remodeled it- building a master suite for him and my mom on where the party deck was with a full glass sliding door wall that overlooked the water.
He put two RV a/C's on it and it was more than enough. I would recommend being handy before deciding to live on a boat unless you are pretty wealthy because there are always things needing to be replaced since the salt corrodes everything.
The hull itself needs to be maintained as well. My brothers and I scrapped the barnacles using hand scrapers and scuba tanks (another handy bit if gear you should consider) which saved us a lot of money and damage to the boat. We did all the maintenance and repairs ourselves, which was honestly pretty often. So having moderate to advanced handyman skills will really, really be useful especially if you are buying a used, older boat. Leaks, corrosion and rot is a constant issue.
And because your entire house is floating, it's really not wise to neglect such things like you can a little bit more in a house. But don't worry, you can learn everything you need to. And general maintenance becomes like normal "chores" to kids.
Overall, it is so worth it! I am so thankful for my dad's crazy idea of raising his whole family out on a boat! No amount of barnacle scraping, deck scrubbing, hurricane madness made me want to trade it for the world!!!

Ps- as an added benefit (imo) growing up in ports exposed us to many cultures and I still have pen pals from all over the world. We never knew cliques or racism growing up and learned to see everyone equally, judging only on the basis of one's goodness and character.

But of course, that may vary greatly on location of port, education, parental beliefs and the amount of exposure to outside influences- including entertainment. Good luck!!! It's truly an adventure of a lifetime!

Considering living aboard as an option
by: Anonymous

I'm being medically retired from the military and plan to purchase a houseboat for my wife, son and I within the next two years.

My wife knows more about boats than I, but I am all about the life style after having lived abroad for so long on deployments.

My family is small at the moment, and my wife is very excited about this option if lifestyle. We both have much experience with limited spaces and limited personal items and such.

We have a dog and a cat that will be with us, and we plan to take port initially in or around South Carolina or Tennessee.

Any suggestions or tips?

Looking for houseboat family for BBC film
by: Emma

Hi, I am producing a series of short films for BBC learning about children's lifestyles and would love to feature a confident child aged between 8-11 (and still at primary school) who lives on a houseboat in England.

Many thanks! Emma Lindley

Living with kids and pets on a houseboat
by: Newby

Having just become a livaboard with boys and pets, the greatest challenge has been storage for clothing, both clean and dirty.

We reduced the quantity of items and head to the laundry weekly. We use flat plastic storage bins that slide under the futon or baskets that slide into an open alcove over the youngest's bunk.

One unexpected challenge is the lack of privacy while docked in a marina. Pretty close quarters with little acoustic or visual privacy. Active families with pets are not tolerated well by the older, retired crowd where we reside. Choose where you live carefully. Good Luck!

Houseboat Pets - live aboard and animals
by: Anonymous

Hi, we are live aboards 6 months of the year.....we have two small dogs and are very concerned about our neighbours. Our dogs do bark when someone knocks on the side of the boat or door....this is what we expect them to night we have motion sensors on the front and back deck and they sound off an alarm if we are boarded.

It doesnt matter what size - but there are many people that are either not animal lovers or are afraid of keep them on a leash.....also other dog owners dont like their dogs charged at......the leash solves that problem. Make sure to always pick up after them.....since you will live in a marina (public area)....

The dogs learn quickly when and where to go...we are also very aware of their needs and make sure they are walked at appropriate times.....if at anchor we make sure that they are taken to shore....and not on someone elses property.

It is a big responsibility having animals on board along with the takes alot of organization.

If you plan to stay at a marina most of the time....then you shouldnt really have many problems.....we are also rvers and we have the same challenges. Good luck.

Reply - Answer
I wanted to thank you for sharing your experiences and some great tips on how to handle boat life and dogs.

We have two of our own, and we also use the leash whenever needed. It makes for better relationships with folks that aren't necessarily "dog lovers".

IAN from

Dogs to Kids???????
by: Anonymous

Hi Mark, Thanks so much! We have investigated further - there are 10 live aboard families in our marina - none adjacent to this vessel - we are on an end.

Of those living aboard - half have dogs - which is good to hear! I totally agree with you on barking dogs - I personally can't stand the barky dog thing!

Of course like anything - the risk is, well, a bit of an unknown - we plan to hire a trainer to aggressively work with the pup upon move-in to do our best to curb any behaviors we are not seeking and adjust the dogs appropriately (stationing and dock behavior)!

I do agree chaos is definately possible! We crate the puppy which we plan to continue on board. I definately do not wish to look through rosy colored glasses as we all know those fade quickly - especially in a tight space!

Your comments are most helpful! Still hoping to hear from parents who have raised kids on boats? Pros/Cons?

Houseboats & Pets On Board
by: Mark, South Australia

I suspect that you are just wishful thinking if you are hoping that people will "grow to love them as we do and enjoying their company." Some will love them, some won't care and some will detest/fear them. You are probably best aiming for mutual tolerance.

Occasional barking from inside the boat when you have a visitor probably won't be an issue, but if the dogs regularly bark on the deck as people go by then it will quickly become a real issue.

Personally, I can't stand dogs barking all the time and we always have our Doberman with us, so we are dog lovers.

Unless your dogs are really well trained to toilet only on demand, I suggest that you will have a lot on your decks to clean up given the number of dogs you have.

My dog is normally quite placid, but when we start the motors, he tends to get very excited until we are under way. I could imagine the chaos if one (or more) of your dogs was like this. The others would probably get wound up as well - pack mentality and all that.

I won't say "Don't do it", but I suggest you need to give it some more serious consideration to having that many animals on board.

Dogs and Liveaboard
by: Anonymous

In response to pets on board - the vessel we are considering is wedged on a marina between two parks less than 1/4 mile away.

The previous owner had a pet on-board for which the vessel remains in great shape. All our pets are older - in fact so old - they walk and lay!

Needless to say - like any dog - they may bark from time to time - do you hear barking dogs in marinas? Generally this part of the country is very dog friendly where the boat is - but is there the unspoken rule?

They are shepherds so not your little toy poodle! They love to be doted on and secretly hoping that people on our dock would grow to love them as we do and enjoy their company!

We do have a new puppy (not by choice rather dropped off) that is a bit of a possible deal breaker - as she has a tendency to bark at folks arriving at front door - (not uncommon of course) but worried how that would be seen if she barked at someone from inside?

That is my only real concern - can you believe - not kids and houseboat - one dog we have had for 3 months. Life is fun isn't it!

Thanks So Much for your Response!

Living aboard on houseboats.
by: Old Houseboater

Very possible but I would get rid of the animals. At least get it down to one. Your neighbors won't appreciate multiple animals and taking that many out to do their duty would be a PITA.

I don't like animals on boats because eventually they smell up the boat. This makes it a hard sell at sale time. Same for smokers.

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