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Full-Time Houseboat Living - an early retirement, year round boaters dream.

by Capt. John
(Galveston, TX)

Houseboat Living - it doesn't get any better than this.

Houseboat Living - it doesn't get any better than this.

You're looking at full-time houseboat living because of early retirement, or simply want to live a year round boaters dream?

If living aboard a houseboat full-time appeals to you (and I know it's not for everyone) then I simply can not encourage you enough.

I have always been a "big" boater... And by that I mean that I have never owned a boat that could be trailered (except for a dinghy or two). Living on a boat (and especially a houseboat) is just one of the most enjoyable and pleasant life styles one can ever imagine.

In my case, I was involved in a forced early retirement incentive - offered by my employer of 22 years. At the time, my monthly cost of living required that I take home $6,000 a month - just to keep the roof over my family's head, eat and live.

My only debt was my mortgage, as my wife and I always paid all our bills and the total amount on our credit cards every single month.

When I was "forced" into early retirement - I didn't know what I was going to do... So, I did what any level headed boater would do - I packed up the family and we all went cruising.

That's when it hit me... All my adult life, I dreamed of the day I could live and cruise full-time on my boat. Now, suddenly, the opportunity was here.

We sold the house, the cars, and held the Grand Daddy of all garage sales - and watched our $6,000 a month cost of living drop to a few hundred (the cost of our insurance, boat fuel, and what we ate).

That was 15 years ago. Currently, I cruise around America's Great Loop - stopping, staying, or cruising with changes in mood and weather.

So, think not "how
much" you need to live on your boat - but "how little". Life is sweet when your living aboard.

Capt. John

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Reply - Answer
Well Capt. John, welcome to the houseboat forums, and I would like to thank you personally for sharing such a powerful story of your forced early retirement, and how it helped you make the decision to spend your life aboard.

I also agree with you about how little it takes to live a great life on a boat, especially compared to living life on land. Anyways, you can only bring so many pairs of shoes, books or tupperware :)

You mention that it's not a lifestyle choice for everyone, as my wife and I know since we have friends that think we are nuts and not in touch with reality because we love living on a houseboat. There is no other place in the world that WE would rather be :)

I am sure that you're story will touch many of our readers, and may even inspire them to share what they love about houseboats, or what helped them get started in houseboating.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their life on board, or houseboat living experiences. 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 Full-Time Houseboat Living - an early retirement, year round boaters dream.

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I’m learning onto the water!
by: Don

I’m looking at retirement soon and wanted to live on or near water. I started watching YouTube videos and now I’m really interested in living on the water. This was a great article. My concern would be where to live because shore services, supplies, emergency service, and golf courses are important for my needs. Thanks

We Did It!
by: Vicki Pearce

My husband and I have been living on a houseboat for 7 years now and we love it! We bought a 52' houseboat that needed a lot of renovations to make it a home. It still does but it gets better every year. Neither of us were sailors but we didn't want a conventional retirement and couldn't afford the "cruise" brigade so this was our dive into the unknown. We live in a Marina full time but have the option of moving around the Gold Coast (Australia) as and when the mood takes us. I joined a volunteer sailing club where I have been taught to sail (for free) in return for helping adults and children with special needs go sailing. It's a good life...try it!

What size?
by: Capt John

I no longer own a houseboat. I'm currently cruising in a 36 foot sailboat.

by: Barbara

Hi, just wondering do you have to pay taxes on a houseboat such as school/land etc? Also regular bills like electric?

Thanks, Barbara.

Single Again Building Year Round HB?
by: Jack

Anyone know of a drop down chart to help choose type, size, accessories per your needs?

Size boat for America's Great Loop
by: Capt John

I don't have a typical "houseboat" per say... I have cruised the Loop in a Trawler and in a sailboat. Bigger is better of course... but to a very small limit:

To cruise the @ 6,000 miles of America's Great Loop, your vessel cannot be "all that big". There is a 19'1" height above the water limit (as there is a 19'1" fixed bridge south of Chicago, we all must go under).

There is also a 99 foot length and 23 foot beam restriction in the Canals, and a very important depth or draft restriction. You "should" have a draft under 4'6" and less is better while more will have you "white knuckles" nervously cruising miles of shallow waterways with lots of sand bars and shoaling - just saying! (if Canadian Canals are included, you have a 5' draft restriction).

Most... and I do mean "most" boaters doing the Loop are in vessels less than 40 feet in length. Believe me, the very smallest vessel you can be comfortable living in is best and the most economical way to go.

So if this is something you "really want to do" - don't let your "dream boat" be your "dream buster". Your vessel should be absolutely no bigger than your comfort demands and no smaller than your safety requires.

I've cruised the Loop in a 28 footer with my son, and now in a 36 footer and loving it. I wouldn't go any bigger.

John at captainjohn

Looking into monthly houseboat expenses
by: Karen

What are the houseboat monthly expenses? The cheapest places to dock? Thank you, Karen

From RV to Houseboat
by: Anonymous

Can I go from a 40' RV vacation home to a live aboard houseboat. What do I need to know. I just want to dock it I don't want to sail it anywhere?

Sharing the houseboat adventure
by: Anonymous

This is a response to Barbara, who describes herself as a technical/mechanical moron being a retired RN.

You could be a great asset to someone who needs a nurse aboard ship. And don't sell yourself short, nurses are highly trainable and skilled enough to learn anything they choose. So go for it.

I too am an RN semi-retired, just purchased my own 56 footer and am in process of remodel. I plan to be on that boat as much as I can when finished with the remodel.

I have had small boats most of my life but never one this large. I will learn how to manage from all the awesome boat people out there that seem to share their knowledge as easily and as well as we all share the love of the water.

Good luck.


Potential Houseboat Liveaboards - can WE do it too?
by: Anonymous

My wife (of 36 years) and I are 56 years old. I am in great health, and work in maintenance at a university. I watched my father work 12 hour days for my entire childhood.

I came along late in my parents lives, so when I was 14 years old, my father had just turned 62 years old. He had worked an Nickels Bakery for over 40 years.

When he hit 62, he turned in his retirment notice and DIED 2 weeks later. He was always an avid fisherman and boater, but never go the chance to enjoy it in his later years.

I don't want to live (and die) the same way! My biggest concern with this whole idea is this: My wife has severe Rheumatoid Arthritis. She functions fairly well as a dog trainer, full time, but the hours and too much standing are becoming a problem for her.

I basically just hate my job. I am not a corporate world kind of a guy, and all this ra-ra education with no common sense what-so-ever atmosphere is getting to me. These people are, for the most part, over educated morons! But that is a whole different topic.

Anyway, my wife's medications are rather expensive. I have great insurance right now and she is fully covered. I will be checking my options for insurance through PERS. (state retirement).

My wife is pretty much on board with this whole idea. She lovers boating, the water, and the simple life it could bring. Less hassles, fewer bills, and fewer responsibilites.

She just needs for me to show the facts, that it can be done financially. What will it cost for the slip, electricity, INSURANCE, water, pump out fees, etc. etc. etc.

We have a small "nest egg" and I would get a pretty good lump sum payment from my retirement. We both have also worked in the private sector enough to collect social security when we get old enough, if it still exists that is...

So, shoot some thoughts at me, be honest, be blunt.....I can take it! lol.. Should I schedule that huge garage sale for early spring?

Any Clubs that Share the Houseboat Adventure?
by: Barbara

I subscribe to this forum because my son is a live aboard in TX. He has a wife, 2 kids and 2 dogs, i.e. no room for me. I would love to give it a go, but being a technical/mechanical moron (retired RN) I can't just go out and buy a houseboat.

But, I can cook. Are there any clubs or groups that rent/share the experience for 3-6 months at a time? Maybe I would learn enough to be able to go independent!


Houseboat retirement
by: Anonymous

I have always wanted to retire on a houseboat, and I am getting closer to that time. I would like to find out what it takes and where would be the cheapest places to retire that are preferably warm.

Your freind, Marcus, hipp sitka alaska.

Living aboard on what size houseboat?
by: Anonymous

Capt John didn't mention what size of houseboat he owns.
MR. B.

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