This is the final part of a 3 part series on buying a houseboat. The first part dealt with considering suitable vessels to use as houseboat, the second part dealt with the different types of moorings available to berth your new home and this final part of the series focuses on the differences between living on a boat and residential property. Is it really a cheaper alternative to buying residential property? 

If you’re thinking of buying a boat to live on and you’re new to this way of living it’s likely you’ll need some help in deciding what your options are and where to start looking. Don’t forget you can download our free “Buying a Houseboat Guide” from our website which will help you through the process.

There are many specialist boat builders who will make a boat to your exact specifications or, alternatively, you may wish to buy second-hand.  As well as budget limitations, you should also consider whether you want to buy a boat that is already habitable or take on a project and deal with the conversion yourself. Be aware that getting tradesmen can be difficult and the good ones are often pricey because specialist expertise is required.  Also, remember that boats, unlike houses, do not come with title deeds.  In other words, you need to take extra care to ensure the person you are buying from does actually own the vessel, otherwise you run the risk of losing your investment – and the boat.

Buying a live aboard is a big step, particularly if it is to be your permanent home.  We strongly recommend you do some homework before you part with your cash.

Research – It is very important to conduct research into the type of houseboat you want and where you plan to keep it.  View as many boats are possible to get a ‘feel’ of what you like and what would be suitable for you. Contact related associations such as the Dutch Barge Association (DBA) for help and support in finding your ideal boat.

Be aware – New boats are viewed as a depreciating asset in the same way that cars are.  If buying a secondhand boat, look to see if you can add value to your investment by making alterations to the vessel which will increase its value.

Budget – As well as the purchase price, factor in other costs associated with buying a boat such as; purchase costs (surveyor and legal costs), insurance, immediate repair or maintenance costs, marina fees, equipment and fuel costs, to name but a few!

Finance – Will you need help with obtaining finance to purchase your boat?  Marine mortgages are available for houseboat purchases but can be subject to stringent requirements.  A legal advisor can guide you through the process and introduce you to trusted marine finance advisers.

Finding moorings – Finding a suitable mooring will depend on the size and type of your vessel and you may be subjected to a long wait.

Is a houseboat cheaper than buying residential property?
Living on a houseboat is thought of by some as being a cheaper alternative to residential property.  However, depending on the size of the vessel, in many cases it won’t be.  As well as the purchase price, maintenance is a constant concern for houseboat owners. As a guideline, allow for 10% of the cost of your boat, per year, for maintenance costs.  And, on top of that, budget for marina fees, fuel, insurance, repayments of a marine mortgage or loan (if applicable) utilities, fuel, repairs, and other associated costs to living aboard, such as sewage and grey water ‘pump out’.  Nevertheless, get the sums right and a houseboat can be a joy.


Comments are closed.