Houseboats: Those Boats That Feel Like Home

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We all know what it’s like when you get to the boat ramp and you’re the first one there. I bet you can picture the immaculate, glassy surface of the water, undisturbed by boat traffic. The fish are idly swimming. Maybe you even see an eagle or sea hawk swooping to the surface to catch breakfast.

Now, imagine that perfect morning is every morning. You wake up and walk to your private house, a warm cup of coffee in your hand. You can even dip your toes into the water for an invigorating wake up call.

That’s the special routine that only houseboat owners know well. It might seem like it’s out of a fairy tale, or a lifestyle only for millionaires with lakefront property. But no, thousands of houseboat owners wake up to that very image every single day.

If you’re looking for a boating lifestyle that involves waking up to adventure, and a tight-knit community that’s as unique as you are, houseboat living is for you. Keep reading for more information on the houseboat lifestyle, and how can help you find the next home (and boat) of your dreams!

Are you ready to become a houseboat owner? (Buy vs. Rent)

One of the best parts about houseboats is you don’t have to jump into owning one without trying it out first. There are plenty of sites that make it easy to rent a houseboat for a few days, or a few weeks. In fact, most people think of moving into a houseboat full time because they had an amazing time renting one.

Renting a houseboat lets you get used to what it’s like being in a smaller living space. If you have pets, you might find that being on a houseboat requires you to walk your dogs to a bathroom area or park, instead of letting them out in the backyard. If you have a larger family, certain layouts might feel more restrictive than others. A few long-term rentals can help you decide what you absolutely can, and can’t live without in a houseboat, so you can buy with confidence.

If you really love living in a houseboat, a time will come where you find that renting is more expensive than owning your own. Rental fees, high premiums, and more mean that after a certain point, it’s cheaper to own. When you own your own houseboat, you don’t have to worry about rental blackout dates or low inventory. Even better, if you have a trailerable houseboat, you can bring your residence with you wherever you love to get on the water. That means you can enjoy the sunny intracoastal waterway of Florida in the winter, Lake Cumberland in the summer, and everywhere in between.

Houseboats, like houses on land, are incredibly customizable. When you buy or build your own, you can select the amenities that you can’t live without. That means you can set up the kitchen of your dreams, or an idyllic waterfront patio for watching sunsets. It’s all up to you!

Should you buy or build your houseboat?

With something as customizable as a houseboat, it may tempt you to build it yourself. Of course, that’s the one way to get everything you want, right? There are plenty of shows on HGTV showing people building their own homes. It can’t be that hard!

While there are plenty of resources out there for people looking to build tiny homes or dream residences, when it comes to building a houseboat, there’s a lot more to consider. Even if you’re a professional contractor, you have to consider safely running electrical power in the presence of water, or maintaining air-tight water lines so that fresh water and grey water can come in and out of the boat without any chance of leaking. Further, you also need to consider how to keep your home safe on the water, and perfectly balanced so that it doesn’t tip in high winds or in other dangerous situations.

This can be a lot to worry about, and not for the faint of heart. Instead, buying a pre-made, or custom residence from an established houseboat manufacturer is the way to go. These companies know how to build a safe, and elegant place to live that you’ll never want to leave.

Best Houseboat Brands

There are plenty of houseboat manufacturers that have production lines perfect for every type of boater. Even better, with so many new and used boats on the market, you can likely get a boat so well-matched to your lifestyle that you’ll think it was custom-built for you! Here are some of the leading houseboat builders, so you know what to look for when you go shopping for your new home.


Gibson Houseboats have been family-owned and operated since 1968. The company recently went through an ownership change in 2012, however, that hasn’t impacted the quality of these fiberglass-hulled houseboats. Since they have a fiberglass hull, these boats are perfect for sweet and saltwater living, which means you have the versatility to pick wherever you want to live.

Gibson House Boats More

Holiday Mansion

If you’re looking for a way to get on the water without breaking the bank, a Holiday Mansion houseboat may be perfect for you. As one of the most popular houseboat manufacturers in the 80s and 90s, there’s plenty of used stock in excellent condition. These boats are outfitted with timeless, hard-working finishes that look amazing.


If you want to stand out on the lakefront, you need to consider a Sumerset houseboat. These aluminum-hull boats have unique, modern designs that maximize interior space, and a view. In building these boats, Sumerset focuses on putting in as many windows as possible so that buyers have stunning, wraparound views of the lake. Because, if you’re not living on the water for the atmosphere, why are you there?

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Catamaran Cruisers

If you want to go from Lake Havasu, to Florida’s intracoastal, to Lake George, all in one year, you likely can’t do it with any houseboat. But, you absolutely can with Catamaran Cruiser’s unique Lil’ Hobo Trailerable houseboat. This unique vessel features all the amenities of a full-sized residence in a pint-sized package. Trailerable houseboats are a rarity in this market, so make sure you go with one of the best names in the business to get the fight boat that can accommodate all of your adventures!

Stardust Cruisers

Stardust luxury houseboats bring luxury, yacht-style houseboat living to the market. These vessels prioritize high elegance and pristine finishes, so that you feel like you’re in a luxury resort, instead of an RV or tiny home. Stardust is a houseboat manufacturer which specializes in custom vessels, so you know you’re getting the perfect home for you.

Stardust Cruisers Houseboats More

Best Houseboating Lakes

One of the best parts about owning a houseboat is that they can become a vacation home with waterfront access to the best boating locations in the USA. Almost every state has a perfect lake for houseboat living, so there are plenty of options out there for you to find a place to stay.

Most of the ideal locations for house boating are in areas that have excellent weather year-round. That way, you don’t have to worry about the water freezing around your houseboat. Lake Powell and Lake Mead are in Northern Arizona, and are excellent choices. Similarly, Lake Cumberland, which is seated in Daniel Boone National Forest in Southern Kentucky, is an excellent, quiet place to anchor your houseboat. Finally, Lake Shasta in California’s central Valley puts you in proximity to some of the best that the west coast has to offer. It’s within driving distance to wineries, mountains, and big cities, so you have all the amenities you’d ever want in a long-term residence, or vacation home.

If you prefer saltwater boating, there are some warm-weather houseboat communities in inland bays. Florida’s intracoastal waterway is perfect for those who want fun in the sun, and easy access to the ocean. While most marinas can accommodate houseboat living, some do have restrictions, so make sure to do your research to find the perfect long-term location for you.

Welcome to the houseboating community!

The number one thing boaters love about their hobby is the tight community around it. Pleasure boaters, anglers, and watersports athletes all have unique communities that tie them together. However, nothing is quite as special as the houseboat community. From the laid-back lifestyle, to the camaraderie built by daily dock walks and conversations, there’s something deeper that brings houseboaters together. Houseboaters know it’s not about travelling fast, or in the most luxurious way. It’s not about fitting a ton of people on your boat, and it’s not about what you catch.

Living on a houseboat is about waking up every morning and looking out at the water. It’s about loving life on a boat so much, you want to do it every day. And it’s about loving the special people who want to do that with you.

If you want to learn more about living on the water, there are plenty of resources online that can help get you started. Sites like All About Houseboats, Just Houseboats, and Houseboat Magazine are some sites that have information about maintenance, insurance, and the special parts about houseboat living that make it unique. Once you know everything there is to know about living on the water, it’s time to find the perfect boat for you. Check out our list of houseboats currently for sale on There, you’ll find a range of different vessels for the perfect kind of life you want to live!

Houseboats FAQ

Are houseboats safe?

Houseboats are relatively safe boats, and are often safer than other boats designed to go fast, or operate in high seas. However, since many people live in their houseboats, they’re often worried about things like storms. Lightning storms are a particularly unique concern for those living in a houseboat. Luckily, there are many things boat manufacturers do to keep you safe in a lightning storm. Most houseboat manufacturers install lightning-dissipation devices, like lightning dissipators or rods, that make the boat safer in case of a storm. If you’re caught in a storm, you can also stay in a marina, where there’s likely to be other things that will attract lightning (like lightning rods on top of buildings). If you’re on a houseboat during a storm, stay inside and avoid touching electronics or metal, just in case strike methods fail. Lightning storms tend to blow over quickly, and you can return to your routine as soon as the threat has passed.

Are houseboats seaworthy?

Overall, houseboats aren’t seaworthy, which means you shouldn’t use them in the open ocean or in heavy swells. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t use them in salt water. River deltas, intracoastal waterways, harbors, and inlets are all excellent places to keep a houseboat. In fact, many of the most popular houseboat communities, like those in Seattle and Fort Lauderdale, are on saltwater venues.

Are houseboats a good investment?

Houseboats tend to keep their value better than other boats of similar size because they are live-aboard vessels. They also tend to have hard-wearing equipment on board, which means they stay in good condition for a long time. Even now, 30 and 40-year-old houseboats can go for over $100,000 if they’re well maintained. Very few boats (or other investments) retain their value that well over time.

Are houseboats easy to drive?

House boats usually have small motors compared to other boats of similar size, which means they don’t move quickly. That can make new boaters feel comfortable when piloting them for the first time. However, they may be difficult to drive for some people, as they are very wide and might have a few blind spots (especially if the cockpit is inside the home.) However, if you’re in an open body of water, you should have no problem at all piloting your houseboat.

Are houseboats cold in winter?

Most houseboats do very well in the winter (depending on where your winter is!) They often have heaters on board and are fairly well-insulated to prevent cold from entering the boat. The main concerns when it comes to operating a houseboat in the winter is often the water around the boat. If it’s too cold, water lines can freeze, or your boat can become frozen in place. However, there are ways to adapt. If you want to live aboard your boat in the winter, all you need is proper preparation, and you should have no trouble at all.

Are houseboats pet-friendly?

House boats are great for the whole family, which means they’re excellent for those of us with pets! The same materials that help these boats retain their value make them perfect for pets. Now, if you have a dog that needs plenty of exercise, the small footprint of a houseboat might mean that you have to spend some time at the dock, going for walks and getting in playtime. However, when it comes to staying on the boat, there are few vessels better for pets than a houseboat.