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Houseboat Living - Are houseboats good to live mortgage free?

by Amanda
(Virginia City MT)

Living on a used houseboat, and mortgage free?

Living on a used houseboat, and mortgage free?

Thinking of living on a houseboat, and wonder if I can live mortgage free on a house boat? I am looking to purchase a houseboat to live aboard while I return to college.

Is anyone familiar with a 1972 Gibson houseboat? I have found one that I like on the internet, which is located in close proximity where I want to return to school (1200 miles from me).

The seller has not wanted to help me with much information, simply stating that it is in the yard on blocks and he knows nothing about it. He couldn't even advise me if there is a shower on the boat!

Before I make the trip to go houseboat shopping, does anyone know the pros / cons to this type of houseboat? Does it have a shower? Any help would be good, I'm very excited to buy a boat, but want to make sure I make a sound decision.

My budget is limited as I want to pay cash for a boat and live "mortgage free" while I'm in law school, therefore I do understand you get what you pay for.

Help! anyone with any information on Gibson houseboats would be great.

Thanks a lot, Amanda.

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Reply - Answer
Well Amanda, congratulations on your decision to look at houseboat living, and hopefully mortgage free while in college.

Now, the cold hard facts, I love living on a houseboat, yet it is not for everyone, and the decision is not to be taken lightly. There is some HOMEWORK to do first and look at before a decision can be made.

I can understand you're feelings and excitement about the great possibilities of life on a houseboat, yet I would want you to look at some of the realities first.

1) You would need to first find a marina that would allow houseboat live aboards, and consider the
cost all the associated costs. Some do, and some don't.

2) Used older houseboats can be quite a buying challenge, and some are in good shape, and some are in terrible condition. You would need to be survey a houseboat before purchase to determine condition, value, and future needed repairs.

3) Are you handy with tools and mechanically inclined? Or would you require outside help to fix or repair the boat. More expense if you need a lot of outside help.

4) Do you have any boating experience, or would you be able to take a safe boating course.

5) With the college workload, would you have the time to fix, repair, or maintain an older used houseboat?

6) The idea of living mortgage free on a houseboat is an appealing one, you would however have to budget some extra money, or have a cushion, for other regular and miscellaneous expenses.

Now don't get me wrong, I love living on a houseboat, and it does bring me GREAT JOY, yet it does have its moments and expenses.

I just want you to look into some of the preliminary background details before running out and buying a houseboat.

Now, in response to your original question about if a 1972 Gibson houseboat has a shower, and yes they generally have one.

One last note, I am curious as to why the seller isn't providing any info, unless he is not the owner? hmmmm. What's the story with that.

So, in closing, enjoy doing your preliminary homework, and do let us know what you decide, or buy...

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their mortgage free 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 Houseboat Living - Are houseboats good to live mortgage free?

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Not clueless but I need more info too.
by: Capt. B.

Having had boats for the last 35 yrs and obtaining my Capt.s licence (50 ton inland master).I'm not completely clueless about the costs of owning a houseboat.

Our last one was a fabulous 37'Boatel fixer-upper! We fixed her up, owned and loved her for 9 years on the Mississippi River! But only on weekends and vacations.

We unfortunately had to move and couldn't take her with us and have missed the water ever since. While I agree with Chez in St.Paul that there are many costs to consider, I suspect that he lives in a REALLY nice marina that's convenient to St. Paul as our costs in Red Wing were considerably less (by more than 1/2).

I can also tell you there are marinas (particularly on the St.Criox) that are way more expensive than he's experiencing. Right now, my wife/best friend and I are researching the annual (barring unforseen) costs and considering a move permanently back on the water as well and are seeking as much info as we can get.

Are houseboats good to live mortgage free?
by: Anonymous

So boat stands for "Bring Out Another Thousand"? While living on a boat never is really "free", have you people ever thought how really costly owning a house is?

With taxes, if you don't pay them, they take your house. You never really never own your house because you have to pay taxes. Again, no taxes, no house.

Now, while owning a houseboat has it's share of problems, so does owning a house. Just thought I'd point that out.

Houseboat living is great but...
by: Dan Bullard

We saw the crash coming so we sold our house in town, paid off all our debt and bought a new Catamaran Cruisers 14X50 houseboat.

We used to have a floating home (not a houseboat) at a nearby marina and after years of kissing up to the marina owners they allowed us to live aboard in their marina which otherwise excludes liveaboards.

The floating home idea is nice, but if you get kicked out of a marina it's VERY expensive to find another slip, whereas if you get kicked out of a marina with a houseboat it's much cheaper as you can move yourself.

We were quoted $35,000 to move our old floating home to a new marina, our houseboat has motors, and boats usually have lower slip fees. Many marinas charge an extra $100 a month for liveaboards, some people offset that by working part time for the marina (I manage security cameras, other people tend the dock flowers).

I think the only real downside is when a big storm comes up, you'll wish you were in a house bolted down to the ground. It can get very scary when the wind his over 40MPH. On the other hand we could care less about an earthquake that might very well destroy your land based house.

We'll never give it up, we love the freedom, the peace and the low cost. We actually own our home, and if the state institutes a law or tax we can't stomach, we can move our house to another state or another country, try that with a land based house!

Acronym for boat
by: Summerdai

Are you aware that BOAT is not really a word? It is an acronym meaning "Bring Out Another Thousand". Don't get me wrong, we love our Holiday Mansion but it is not cheap/easy living.

Secondly, a marina should have a shower/bathroom facility. You may as well live in the dorm if you have to walk 'down the hall' to the shower.

Do you understand that you can't just flush? You have to take the boat to a pump-out station to empty the head. You could read another chapter in some great tome instead of all this extra work.

Good luck and I'm proud of you for taking the next step.


Reply - Answer
Summerdai, I do agree with you that boats are not the cheapest living alternative, but you have to agree there are many special moments.

IAN from

Seriously thinking about living onboard a houseboat
by: David

I'm a 23 year Navy veteran, and have spent 13 of those 23 years on 2 Ticondergoa Cruisers, 1 battle ship, 2 carriers.

With my house in San Diego 80K upside down and no relief in sight, I have no inclination to buy another house and find my retirement nest egg destroyed by World Savings and other unscrupulous lenders.

Lake Mead is my retirement dream, the kids are all in college, so it's me the wife and our two little Bichon pups. So it's a swap between a house in Henderson and a houseboat.

I have a 22 foot Maxum and two jet-skis, plus my Navy experience, so I'm not a newbie to water. Begging anyone to let me know me and share the true pros and cons to living onboard.

Currently looking at a 2002, 78 ft Sharpe houseboat that is currently listed and for sale. I also have 13 years experience as a Machinist Mate so wrenching is up is in my alley.

Any advice would be helpful. Regards, David

Mortgage Free But Not Cheap Livin'
by: Anonymous

This last fall we dove into the purchase of a houseboat with plans to live year around. Yes, you won't have a mortgage but you will have:

Summer slip rental $3000-4000 for season
Winter slip rental $1200-1500 for season
Shrink Wrapping in cold climates: $800-$1000
Electric: $50-150 per month (highest in winter)
Pump-out: $100-200 each trip
Winterizing: $200-500.
Pull out for maintanence or painting: $$
Bottled, drinkable water water: $$
Repairs and Maintanence: BOAT which means:

Is it worth it? Use Google to search for; "What I love about living on a houseboat" to get inspired! Go For It!

Chez in St. Paul

Reply - Answer
Chez, that is so true, houseboats aren't without their costs and expenses, but like you say, most houseboaters wouldn't dream of doing anything else :)

IAN from

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