What You Need to Know Before the Purchase of a Houseboat 

Tips for buying your houseboat


You’ve been mauling over the idea of buying a houseboat, but you’re not sure what’s involved with the purchase. Living on the water can be hard, not only is hard to find land to build on, but finding the land to begin with can be a challenge. If you want to live on the water, why not literally live on it. Luckily, this process isn’t very difficult. It’s actually easier than buying a land home. Once you’ve decided that buying a houseboat is the route you want to take, you need to know what goes into the purchasing aspect of the houseboat. 


Know Your Budget and Wish List Before You Start Looking


You have been spending weeks looking at houseboats, or maybe you just started looking. Either way, establishing your budget is important. You don’t want to fall in love with a boat that is 10s of thousands out of your price range. Your wish list will be important parts of deciding on your boat. You may have found a houseboat in your price range, but if you’re not sure what you want in your houseboat you may be buying something without a lot of the amenities you may think are important for comfortable living. Having a well-built wish list will help you filter through boats that don’t have what you’re looking for. The budget for a houseboat may depend on what you have in savings or what you will be approved for at the bank. Sometimes something on your wish list may cause your boat to go up in price. If you take a look at what’s most important to you and picking those things that will help you build your wish list. 


Houseboat Loans Are a Thing


A common question asked, is how do I finance my houseboat, and can I get a mortgage the same way I do with my home? You will be living on your houseboat and you may even be living their year-round. This may make you think that you will have to buy your houseboat the same way you would a home. You will not be getting a traditional mortgage with your houseboat. In fact, the way that you finance your houseboat will be very similar to an RV or a car. With these loans, you can pay them back the same way you would a mortgage with a monthly payment. You can expect a bit higher interest rates than a regular mortgage. This is because your houseboat will diminish in value much quicker than a regular land home. Although this is an option if you didn’t have the funds to buy a boat out right. 


Finding the Right Marina 


When you are looking for the perfect marina to make your home base for your houseboat, there are a few things to consider. You will want to make sure you find a marina first before purchasing your houseboat as it can be a challenge finding a marina that checks all your boxes for the right price. We compiled 5 things that you should ask before you choose your marina. 



  • What Is Their Price



When you’re shopping for your marina weigh the different price options. You may find a marina that checks all your boxes, but it may be overpriced or out of your budget. Compare different marina locations in the city as well as the location of your dock as this can affect the price of your marina fees. 



  • Do they allow for live aboard?


One of the hardest parts of finding a marina will be finding one that allows for live aboard. Our suggestion is to find a list of marinas in a 100-mile radius and call them to find out if they allow for live aboard. The last thing you want is to pay a monthly fee to a marina to later find out you can’t stay there anymore because they don’t allow for you to live full-time at the marina. 



  • Do they offer yearly fees?



Asking questions about yearly fees is important, you may be able to negotiate a price with the marina if you plan to stay there for multiple years. Some marinas only offer monthly pricing instead of a lump sum for a year. If the marina offers for you to live aboard your houseboat yearly and don’t offer yearly payment of marina fees, ask if you can negotiate a price with the owners for a yearly fee. This can cut costs and allow for you not to worry about paying a monthly marina fee on top of your loan payment.



  • What is their location?



As the saying goes: “location, location, location!” It is important before you chose a marina that you look to see what is around the marina. If you don’t have a vehicle, it may not be a wise decision to pick a marina that is far from amenities like a grocery store. Having nightlife and restaurants nearby can give you the sense of living the metropolitan lifestyle without paying the high costs of living downtown. If your marina is within walking distance of everything you need, the necessity of a car will go away.



  • Do they have electrical outlets you can use? 



Knowing if your marina has electrical outlets, you can use is important if you don’t have another source of electricity for your houseboat. If you have solar panels, it’s unlikely you would need the electrical outlets, but it does make your life on a boat a little easier with power. Make sure when talking with someone from marina that you ask what their price is per month for the use of electricity or if they even have outlets available for you. 


Get a Boat Trailer


If you are buying a used houseboat inquire about a trailer, you may be travelling long distances to pick up your houseboat and trailers are very expensive. If one is included in the purchase, you will be saving yourself time and money. In the future you may want to move to a different state or province and need to trailer your boat. You won’t want to have to pay the fees of moving your boat along with a new trailer to do this. If you live in an area where there are hurricanes or very bad weather, you will want this trailer for you to be able to pull the boat out of the water. The last thing you want is for your boat to be in bad condition due to unpredicted hurricanes or bad weather. If you need to get your boat out quickly already owning a trailer will be vital to protecting your boat and your possessions inside. 


Learn to Drive the Houseboat Before You Buy


Before you purchase your houseboat, you should be looking into which kind of license you will need to operate the watercraft. If you have never driven a boat before, or do not know any of the rules of the water, taking a class would be the best way to learn the rules. Learning to actually operate the boat will help you have the most fun possible while living on a houseboat. There are many different places that offer classes on how to operate a watercraft and you can find specialized instructors that will show you how to captain your boat. 


The Difference Between a Houseboat and a Floating Home


A houseboat and a floating home are two different types of homes. Although they may sound the same and often look very similar, they are not. One is a stationary home, while the other is a vessel that can float along a river, lake or even the ocean. They are purchased different and come with a different set of fees. A houseboat is a vessel, like a boat, but can be moved, this means you can travel the open waters with it. This is why when you get your loan for your houseboat it isn’t a mortgage, it’s a recreational vehicle loan. It’s kind of like financing a car. 

A floating home doesn’t move unless you physically relocate it. It’s a four-season structure that just sits on the water. You can mortgage a floating home unlike a houseboat. Your floating home is built on a semi-permanent anchored float, which allows for it to be an all-seasoned home. You may find floating homes in marinas filled with other similar floating homes in metropolitan cities. 


Make Sure Your Houseboat Is Inspected Prior To Purchase


If you know someone who is knowledgeable on houseboats, ask for them to come along with you for the purchase. A lot of the time if you are purchasing used you will be able to get a mechanic to inspect the boat and make sure it’s in ship shape before you set sail. Having a boating expert examine the interior and exterior of the boat – the same way you would with a house- will cost you less later as you won’t be sinking money (no pun intended!) into a boat you just purchased.When having someone inspect the boat, make sure you have a pen and paper with you to write down any issues they see so you can have that priced out before purchasing the boat. This is so you know ahead of time what kinds of repairs and costs will be involved in making your houseboat function seamlessly. 


Don’t Rush the Process


Finally, whatever you do, don’t buy the first houseboat you see, trust the process and you will find the right houseboat for you and your family. Look at multiple boats, although it all may point back to your first boat you looked at least you looked at other boats and saw different types of houseboats. Follow this guide for purchasing your houseboat and you will find the perfect home to set sail on. 


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