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Monthly Houseboat Budget - the costs to run, own, or operate house boats?

by Matthew William Sweeting
(Hamilton, Ontario, Canada)

Monthly Houseboat Budgets - expenses, costs to run house boats.

Monthly Houseboat Budgets - expenses, costs to run house boats.

Any ideas on a monthly budget for houseboat expenses and costs to own or run house boats? My girlfriend and I are talking about saving for a downpayment on a mortgage. Right now we live in a junior one bedroom apartment, with our four cats.

And we just recently started talking about maybe purchasing a houseboat in the future however before we even look at houseboats, I'm just curious aside from the mortgage, what are the general costs of owning a houseboat?

Also we live in an area where we recieve roughly six months of winter, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, so what about the costs of winter storage.

Also what would be a good size for a young couple, we've talked about kids so please keep that in mind as you are answering this question.

Thanks, Matthew William Sweeting

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Reply - Answer
Well Matthew, welcome to the houseboat forums, and congratulations on your decision to buy a houseboat in the future. I will try and give you some ballpark figures.

Now, depending on the size of houseboat, costs can vary accordingly, but you could be looking at a 40 footer, and go up to a 75 footer, if you plan on having some children in the future.

Marina costs can range from $250 up to $1,000 dollars
a month, again depending on the size of houseboat, and the quality and services offered by the marina. A lot of the Canadian marinas included the costs of pump-outs, electricity, and water as part of their dock fees.

Houseboat insurance can run you from $500 to $2000 dollars a year, again depending on the size and value of the boat.

If you plan on winter storage and haul out, you could be budgeting for anywhere from $2,000 to $3,500 per storage season. In the spring or fall, depending on the amount of maintenance or tune ups, you could spend from $500 to $2,500, again depending on the size of houseboat.

As you can see, there are a lot of other costs involved such as wear and tear, depreciation, fuel, repairs, and other unexpected bills. But as any houseboater will tell you, the glorious memories and pleasure that you get, quickly make you forget the expenses.

Lastly, hopefully some of our readers will share and post comments about their experiences, monthly budget, and dollar figures, as to the costs to own, run, or operate a houseboat. 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 Monthly Houseboat Budget - the costs to run, own, or operate house boats?

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by: marnie

Does anyone live offshore on a houseboat in Panama, Costa Rica or Bora Cay?

Any information or experience living elsewhere?


by: Steve B

I found a piece of property where an old bridge went through with deep water.

It was just a little piece of property about 60 x 40 and I bought it for $20,000. So I have road access and deep water.

I bought at 60 foot houseboat and because it's on a small river next to a bridge, there is no harm from heavy seas. It is the perfect place for a houseboat.

But it is the only place like this on the whole river. Land taxes are only $300 a year. So if you ask me, this is way on cheaper than owning a home. A home needs one acre and an acre costs $50,000. My land taxes won't increase because I built a large home on the land.

On the water there is no mice or termites. There is no grass cutting. Whenever I want, I can just sail down the river and change location.

Comparing a Land-Based Home vs Houseboat
by: Dulcie

I'm thinking of buying a home in Florida, and love the water. Started thinking about a houseboat. They are a lot of money new and I guess I really need to SEE them more to get a handle on the size and space and possible layouts.

I have no experience navigating and or running a boat. It would most likely be moored most of the time. I just think if you have to put money into a home on land anyway, why not have one ON the water...LOL.

With a houseboat, you can take with you out of the way of storms and so on. A regular home is going to need maintenance regularly, lawn mowing, roofing, plumbing, I would think the maintenance for a houseboat would be compareable...?

Not sure. But I thank you for your information and this site. I'm going to bookmark it and send it to another friend of mine. =)

A houseboat insurance related question
by: Jack Elder

I too, am thinking of buying a houseboat and have run into a problem while investigating houseboat insurance. The companies I have checked all require that you have experience in the size (length) of houseboat you are looking to insure.

Not having had experience in a 50' - 60' boat, how to I proceed or get around this requirement? I doubt many houseboat owners would be willing to let me "practice" with their's.

Very expensive.
by: dottie

We recently bought a 50x12.5 houseboat without knowing much about houseboats. Unless you buy a huge houseboat, there is not much storage in them. To me, the ones that would be comfortable living in cost more than a nice house.

Docking fees have to be considered. You will never own the area you dock you boat in, but when you buy a house, you own the land.

Another item that should be considered is the top, or upper deck of them. They have to be redone or resealed quite often, and it is not cheap to redo them. Insurance and taxes are another consideration.

Dumping, electicity, and water are other items to consider. Some marinas include these in the price of the slip. However, dumping has to be done right frequently.

You also have to buy or replace parts of the septic system such as filters and sanitation hoses leading from the commode to the tank.

Don't get me wrong, I like our houseboat, but there are many problems and expenses that come with owning a houseboat. I do not think I could live on it.

Not So Obvious Costs of Houseboating
by: Mark, South Australia

Don't forget to factor in the not-so-obvious costs such as getting to and from the marina. If you don't intend to take your cats, then you need to factor any extra costs to look after them.

The size of houseboat will depend mainly on your personalities and interests. If your main objective is travelling on the boat and on land (bush-walking, etc), then it can be quite small for two - taking friends/family requires more space, even if they sleep on the floor.

If you are more inclined to the house part of houseboating and intend to stay on it for longer periods, look to your apartment to see how much personal space you will each need. This will determine how much space needed to stop getting on each other's nerves.

If you are only considering children at this stage, more size won't be a real factor for a few years, but safety in the cabin and on the deck will be paramount. If the boat isn't toddler-proof, think about how much it will take to make it so. It could be an expensive exercise.

Reply - Answer
Thanks Mark for adding those important points.

IAN from

Thinking of buying
by: Bill from Florida

First are you going to be doing a lot of cruising, or mostly as a dockside live aboard?? That determines the overall costs of maintenance, (upkeep) and fuel costs.

Your insuance if in the U.S. will also be less. Be sure to carry fire replacement insurance. You can keep a boat in the water during the winter if you keep the inside of your hull warm. You will have about a 3 to 6 inches of water unfrozen arround your boat.

Using a houseboat in these weather conditions, I would NOT have a pontoon style hull, as you can't keep any heat in side. Here in Florida, I'm building my own 80 ft. pontoon houseboat entirely of wood. Bill

Reply - Answer
Bill, you made some very good points about whether cruising on a houseboat, or mostly living dockside.

IAN from

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