View Full Version : Newbies looking for some help

03-31-2015, 10:02 AM
Hello! My wife and I are thinking of relocating down to the Florida area and have always been interested in houseboats. We are looking to significantly downsize and was curious about a few things.

First and biggest was if it would be even possible to simply just live on a houseboat that we purchase. We really don't need much room and don't see the need to have a house/apartment if we would just be spending most of our time on the houseboat anyway. Are there houseboat parks or something where everyone just lives on one and has a dock on a lake or river?

If anyone that actually does this, what would the actual costs be aside from the boat itself? Utilities, boat cleaning, etc?

If we were actually going to try this, would we want to find something new or would be finding a used one be ok? What would the price range be for something like this?

Any other information for complete newbies would be much appreciated!

03-31-2015, 01:05 PM
Lots of people live on houseboats, especially where the climate is benign, and the water calm-ish. As for space, lots of people live in NY City apartments with less square footage. There are marinas that welcome live-aboards, and find it's good security, and the residents even pay for the privilege of keeping an eye on things, but for some reason, especially in parts of Florida, houseboaters have something of a stigma, and live-aboards are discouraged. Not sure why, because the houseboaters I've met are charming, neat and tidy, seem as if they'd be very good neighbors. Houseboaters seem to love the big reservoirs and lakes of Tennessee, Kentucky and Georgia, so you'd find kindred spirits, especially if you're content to stay put, and like being a little bit away from city lights. And you wouldn't have to find yourselves a hurricane hole very often, or pay the salt-water premium insurance companies ask. That said, those lakes can be busy in the summer with lots of kids, water toys, and noisy exuberance. I might be tempted to see if anybody wants to rent a houseboat, especially in the off-season, and try it out for a while. It seems to me that are lots of dock queens on those lakes that look as if they belong to families whose interests have changed. And you'd have a chance to see if you like the lifestyle.
I have rapidly gotten myself out way beyond my depth of experience, so I'll back off and hope Pirate, Old Houseboater, and others who've done the live-aboard thing tell you the REAL story. Listen to them. They know whereof they speak.

The expenses and upkeep might be less than a big house and a couple of acres of lawn to mow, but there are things to keep up with, as you would expect. A marine environment can be hard on things. Our houseboat is homemade of marine-grade plywood, and we have to scrub the mildew off all the exterior surfaces from time to time, and the black slime off the below-water pontoon surfaces. We have copper sheeting there, so no barnacles to worry with, but underwater gunk and critters would be a concern if you expected to live in Florida and be mobile. Speaking of which, if you expect to go exploring the lake in your houseboat, you'll need to know something about care and feeding of the engine(s). I think buying a used houseboat would be a fine idea if you are (1) handy and (2) know where and how to get a good pre-purchase inspection. I bet Pirate, here, would be a great source of information....and houseboats for sale.

Look farther down the page here... there's a thread devoted to living aboard. If I were going to live in Florida, and weren't scared of the occasional hurricane, I'd look really closely at Bahia Mar Marina mentioned by BananaTom. I love Pensacola!

03-31-2015, 05:05 PM
We were at Joe Wheeler Marina in Rogersville Alabama (near Huntsville) for 13 years. We lived aboard for 7. Truly the best years of our lives. A couple of things come to mind. The Tennessee, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi areas are Gods Country for Houseboat Living. The river system allows you to Connect with the Great Lakes or the Golf of Mexico if your prone to travel. The weather is moderatly warm and suitable for boating year around, even in the summer time. BIG item is the availability of COVERED SLIPS. Florida doesn't have many, due to hurricanes, and they are few and far between. Truly, Florida in the summer, in an uncovered slip is beyond miserable for live aboards. A Florida boat ages 5 years to 1 compared to a covered kept boat.

IMHO the prime Liveaboard area in Florida is the Saint Johns River. Fresh water and close to anything you want to do. Florida is MUCH more expensive than the Heartland area.

You will NOT live cheaper in a House Boat than in a house unless you consider 55 and older Manufactured Home Communities. (Most economical living possible) Our "getaway" home is in Tavares Florida and for economical living with all the amenities cant be beat.

To get you feet wet RENT for a week or more. MORE than once! My suggestion would be to contact AQUA YACHT HARBOR Iuka Mississippi and cruise the Tennesse River area to get a feel for the living aboard experience.

For long term liveaboard think 50 feet minimum.

04-07-2015, 10:47 AM
OHB is right on, I would check out Al. as it is much cheaper than Fl, lot less tax and much more Houseboat friendly. No tax on rent in Al. I will be able to offer you what ever you want by next month. A 55 ft kingscraft would fill the bill with heat exchangers on it, Go down to Mobile much better weather and there will be covered slips there. Same as Pensacola weather. Let us know when you are ready and we will point you in the right direction.

04-10-2015, 11:03 AM
First and foremost, if you are dreaming it, follow that dream. It is awesome.
My wife dreams of live aboarding, most of the time.

As far as Florida goes, which Florida do you desire?

Buying used is great, but shop and shop, and shop.

Post some more of that dream and we will expand further.

04-14-2015, 11:32 AM
We keep our 50 Gibson at our dockuminium in Key Largo.

Manatee Bay is an awesome place.