What Is Waterway Houseboats?

Waterway Houseboats is an all in one resource that aims to answer questions related to the buying and selling of houseboats on the private market and connect buyers and sellers with high quality listings. We strive to provide the most accurate information and simplify the process of acquiring waterway real estate. You can contact us directly thru our contact page


Why should I consider a houseboat for my next real estate purchase?

There are many reasons that houseboats are becoming a popular form of real estate. Undeniably romantic, houseboats give your everyday life a little taste of paradise. For those who are called to the open air and freedom, living on a dock makes that fantasy a reality. 

For the more practically minded purchaser, a houseboat is a great way to downsize from the costs and strains of owning a more traditional house. They are an inexpensive form of mobile home that can be docked anywhere with proper clearance. The maintenance costs are low and free from property tax. Instead, you pay the costs to park, either short or long term, as well as storage costs if necessary during the winter months. Another benefit is solitude. During a time where social isolation is increasingly important for the health of the world, a houseboat gives you additional space, even in densely populated cities. The waterfront is less crowded, with marinas holding a certain number of open spots for ease of movement to and from open waters. The size of houseboats will often require further distancing than the average yacht, giving the residents more privacy.



Are houseboats suited for a primary residence? 


Absolutely. Houseboats are considered luxury real estate. They have all the amenities of the most well crafted home, all adjusted to accommodate a smaller space. There are bedrooms, bathrooms, a kitchen, main living area and often an outdoor space. This is in addition to the needed sections for driving your houseboat, similar to a mobile home. 

Depending on the manufacturer or model, the amount of living space available will vary. A smaller model is more likely to be adaptable, with pull-out or drop-down furniture, retreating walls and folding surfaces. Higher end models are larger and rooms are more static, with furniture that is bolted down to allow the houseboat to be driven without disrupting any possessions inside.  Their versatility is a major factor in what makes a houseboat appropriate for a primary residence. These livable watercraft are made to fit your lifestyle, whatever it may be. 

Are houseboats safe? 


Yes, houseboats are very safe. Made of sturdy material, the hull of a boat is built tough. Most are a combination of lightweight metals like aluminum, reinforced with steel to make it rugged against the elements. The remainder of a houseboat is made of protected wood and fiberglass. All liveable watercraft are able to withstand waves, cold, heat, lightning and water. Modern waterway homes even come with anti-theft measures, on top of the security provided by private marinas where you choose to dock your home. For those who are choosing a more isolated spot to live, customizable security options like security cameras and alarm systems are easy to install. 

How large are houseboats?

The size of houseboats vary based on needs and price. Smaller models can be as compact as 20 feet long, smaller than the average mobile home. Larger models can be as large as 100 feet long. When choosing your houseboat, it is important to keep in mind how much space you will need to maintain a high standard of living based on your particular comfort and needs.  Some houseboats like Arkup can be pretty over the top but most far somewhere in between. If you plan to frequently travel, taking your houseboat from dock to dock, small to medium sized boats are easier to steer and find accommodations for. If your home will be mostly static, staying for long periods in a single dock, a larger houseboat could be for you. 


How much do houseboats cost? 


Just like landbased houses, the cost of a houseboat is going to depend entirely on the size, amenities and location. The home itself could be as low as $30,000 for a simple, smaller craft, or as much as $1 million for a large, luxury houseboat with all the bells and whistles. But it is not just the cost of the houseboat itself that factors into the equation. There are no property taxes associated with owning a houseboat, as you do not own the property where it is located. You pay marina and docking fees that secure the spot where you will live and the utilities like electricity, water and sewage. Some marinas will include these utilities in the price of your rented slip. The cost of upkeep and fees are usually much lower than those of owning a traditional house. 

Are houseboats difficult to repair? 


Houseboats are not likely to need repairs often. As long as they are properly maintained, you can go decades without having to repair or replace anything in your home. Because they are made to withstand being on water, high safety standards are used to make sure everything from the integrity of the hull to the electrical wiring are up to code on every houseboat manufactured and sold. Every few years certain maintenance tasks will need to be followed to keep your houseboat in good order. That includes resealing the deck so there is no damage that can lead to bigger issues later on and checking for any cracks in the roofing due to the reflected sunlight off the water. 

Who manufactures houseboats? 


There are several big names in the world of houseboats. Gibson, Bravada, Northman Yacht and many others build unique, stylish and comfortable houseboats that provide a lifetime of luxury and power to nautical homeowners around the world. 

See our listing page to learn more listings page.

Do I have to have a license to operate a houseboat? 


You do not need a license in the United States to own or live on a houseboat, but you need a valid driver’s license to operate one. In some states you may also need a boating license before you can drive your houseboat. Check local laws and regulations for your region so you can be prepared.  Alternatively, marinas may provide their residents with information on what is needed to drive your houseboat, or access to boating licenses. Check with your chosen marina for more information. 

How do I find a houseboat for sale? 


We provide listings for houseboats [anchor link to listings] of all sizes and types, connecting you to sellers so you can get the home of your dreams. In addition to providing listings for private sellers and local dealers, we also have information on brokerage firms that can help you to finance your houseboat and get out on the water. 

Check our brokerage registry for more information 

Where can I dock a houseboat?

Houseboats are versatile and give you complete freedom when it comes to where you live. This is a big part of their appeal, but it still leaves the question of where you are allowed to dock a houseboat. The majority of houseboats are docked at private marinas that operate as a neighborhood and rented space. The benefits of docking at a marina is the low cost of living, the protection of the marina’s security and the chance to meet and connect with others who have chosen the houseboat lifestyle. They are also well maintained and beautiful spaces, some with covered slips that help protect from the elements.  You may also dock on private property if you own or have permission to reside on the waterfront. 

Can I move a houseboat from one location to another? 


Yes, you can. Closed lakes may make it more difficult to move a houseboat and if you choose to move to another dock you will need a transport vehicle to load and unload where necessary. For open waters, you can drive your houseboat to the new location, such as those docked on a river.  While they act as a residence, houseboats can be taken out as a traditional boat. The average speed of a houseboat runs 7 MPH, or 6 knots. Larger houseboats may be slower to compensate for the weight and the personal property located inside. All models are made for smooth sailing, to mitigate any risk of damage to personal items or furniture.  Check your houseboat’s manual for more information on properly steering and docking. 

What insurance options are available for houseboats? 


Just like homeowners insurance, houseboat owners should take care to protect their investment and personal property. Special insurance exists for different types of crafts, including those that are used as primary or year-round residences. Different companies will have their own set of rules when it comes to permanent versus vacation houseboats, as well as what is and isn’t covered in the plan. Most marinas will require you to have proper insurance before docking for any period of time. Some have their own insurance you can use for a monthly cost added to your rent, covering the minimum amount of damage or repairs. For more extensive coverage, houseboat owners will want to sign up for their own plan, particularly if their craft is considered a luxury model. 


Are houseboats seaworthy? 

Houseboats are not considered seaworthy crafts and are not made for ocean waters. While sturdy, the crashing of waves can cause significant damage and docking on turbulent waters is not safe. Only special crafts made to withstand the sea should be taken further than within view of a coastline. However, houseboats are perfect for calmer waters such as rivers, lakes or intercoastal docks.


Do houseboats have electricity and plumbing? 


Houseboats are made with all the modern conveniences you would expect in a land based home. Connected to the electricity grid, they cost even less to power than most houses. Plumbing and sewage services are provided by marinas as one of the amenities of renting the docking space.  Check with your chosen marina for more information. 

What is the difference between a houseboat and a floating home? 


A floating home is a house that has been anchored into one spot on water, usually on a lake. They are more or less permanent and take significant work to move, even over a small space. A houseboat is a mobile home on the water that is made to drive from one location on the water to another. You can detach and take your craft out onto the river or lake where it has been docked at any time. 

Is maintaining a houseboat cheaper than a landlocked house? 


In most cases, yes. A traditional house comes with annual property taxes, costs more to light, heat and cool and comes with a great deal of overhead. Houseboats have no property taxes, are efficient and take less resources and utilities and are built to last. Experts estimate a houseboat that is properly maintained can go as long as 60 years without requiring major repairs.  Docking fees are also inexpensive and often cost much less than the rent for a mobile home in a park. Considering a houseboat is luxury real estate, the value versus cost is high. 

Can I rent out a houseboat?


Houseboats are excellent rental properties, especially for tourists looking for a unique vacation experience. Services like AirBNB have seen an influx in houseboats for rent in beautiful locations around the world. Keep in mind that vacation rentals, especially waterway properties, require specialized insurance to maintain. There may also be regulations prohibiting renting your space at certain marinas. Check with your local marina before renting out your houseboat. 

What are the property taxes for a houseboat? 


There are no property taxes for houseboats as you are not purchasing any land. Instead, you pay dock and marina fees for parking your houseboat, which are far less than the average property taxes for a house. 

Are houseboats liveable in cold temperatures? 

Houseboats are not made for cold temperatures but they can be adapted to withstand them. Insulation, heating and proper sealing go a long way in keeping your property comfortable when temperatures drop. For those who are not using their houseboat as a primary residence, they can be stored for the winter months and redocked in the Spring or Summer. Or, if you do intend to live on your houseboat year round, they can be moved to any waterfront location of your choosing.  

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