Author Topic: Contemplating living on a house boat  (Read 625 times)

GeorgeWood

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Contemplating living on a house boat
« on: June 13, 2018, 04:54:58 AM »
We have been offered a houseboat: built as a traditional sailing fishing vessel, but with an additional engine and a steel hull. It was built around 1933 and seems to be very well maintained (subject to technical due diligence). According to the seller and pictures provided, it is fully seaworthy. The hull was completely overhauled in 2016.

Judging from the pictures, the vessel’s interior looks very pretty. It features a living room, a kitchen, a master cabin and an additional cabin described as children’s room, with bunk beds. It also has a very small “bathroom”: a toilet, a tiny shower, and a tiny sink.

Speaking of tiny: everything is very small. I don’t have a detailed floor plan, but I estimate the living area to around 40 sqm (430 sqft). We are a family of three (wife, me, 1.5y daughter), and while we think we could make do in such a tiny space (as have others), especially in cold rainy weather I suspect it might feel cramped. Another factor is safety for our little one, since she might fall overboard and drown. She would need constant supervision on deck and possibly a life vest at all times she isn’t “indoors”. As things are now, we have a small fenced garden we can let her play in without having to keep both eyes on her all the time.

Financial facts:
-   Purchase price is around €120.000
-   The existing moorage (pretty much down town of a fairly large town near us), including utilities (electricity and water) is €270 per month. Our current rent + utilities amount to around €900 per month. We would give up our currently rented house.
-   On top of these monthly costs, I expect costs for insurance and maintenance. These I haven’t estimated so far, but I will find out with the seller. Also costs for diesel will need to come on top, for the ship’s engine and also for heating in the winter months.
-   We currently have assets (ETFs and cash) of around €130.000, and no debt.

Another fact worth mentioning: Neither of us has a sailing license (which, over here, is mandatory for sailing it), but both of us have some limited sailing experience on yachts and as occasional deck hands of larger clipper ships. To sail it, we would have to get the license (one-time expense of around €1.000 and about a year of courses and exams) and/or ask my FIL who used to be a commercial captain to attend.

My questions:
-   Has anyone here ever lived in a house boat? Please share your experience. What was it like? Did you have children on board?
-   Is it wise to pour almost all our investments into a boat, which likely doesn’t show price appreciation like “real” real estate does, but rather gets older and depreciates, and needs a lot of maintenance? If something happens to it that is not 100% covered by insurance, we might have a problem.
-   What amount of maintenance can we expect? We’ll need to check with the seller but I’d appreciate any additional third party opinions.
-   Are there any other costs related to owning such a boat other than those mentioned which we haven’t yet thought of?
-   How can we arrange the safety of the little one about going overboard?

YttriumNitrate

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Re: Contemplating living on a house boat
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2018, 05:40:47 AM »
I don't live on a boat, but know someone with three kids (under 5) that does. Here's her blog:
http://www.windtraveler.net/

GeorgeWood

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Re: Contemplating living on a house boat
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2018, 06:03:23 AM »
Thanks. I forgot to mention we’re not planning on doing a lot of traveling, since both of us have jobs in the town it’s currently moored in. The most traveling we’d get out of it is going to be weekend trips or the occasional vacation. We would really mostly use it as an apartment really.

Linda_Norway

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Re: Contemplating living on a house boat
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2018, 07:19:42 AM »
I have friends who lived on their sailboat with their 1 year old for half a year or so and travelled along the coast. That went very well and they did enjoyed it, but didn't continue to do it.
Maybe it helped that 1 year old is very young, before they walk that much? I think it might be better to wait until your child is old enough to have become a bit careful and has learned to swim.

My aunt lived in a sailboat for many years, but she ended up living alone in it after her HB died.

I personally would go nuts living in a small boat. I hate the narrowness of the toilets and small sinks onboard a sailboat. Have you been on boats long enough to know you tolerate it?


Malkynn

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Re: Contemplating living on a house boat
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2018, 09:50:37 AM »
I’m sorry

Did I miss something?
You haven’t posted a single reason why you would want to spend almost every cent you have to buy a boat as your primary residence.
Seeing absolutely no reason from you for doing this, not even travel, it seems insane.



the_fixer

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Re: Contemplating living on a house boat
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2018, 02:37:54 PM »
I lived on a 42 ft boat with my mom, stepdad and my 2 little sisters for years.

I was 12 or 13 when we moved aboard and my first sister was born shortly after, I believe at 6 months we took her to a class called water babies and the same with the second sister and they continued in swim classes.

Yes everything is small, it helped in our situation that it had a small living area above deck being a sport fishing boat so you did not feel like you were in a cave compared to a sailboat.

We had 2 small berths in bunk bed fasion on my side of the cabin and 1 on the other side of the cabin where us kids would sleep, one bathroom, one master bedroom for parents & baby, small kitchen and as mentioned before a small living room upstairs.

As a kid I loved it but I know they were constantly working on the boats and spending a bunch of money on maintenance.

Boats generally depreciate like a mobile home or car so not really an investment especially since you do not own land under it. You have to look at it as will it save me a substantial amount of money VS living on land or do I love the lifestyle enough to justify the cost.

FYI boats normally do not sell for anywhere near asking so the less you pay now the lower your loss in the future if it sinks or you decide to sell.

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AZDude

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Re: Contemplating living on a house boat
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2018, 03:18:09 PM »
Do you like sailing? It seems bizarre that you are contemplating this.

What is the reason? You could have compelling reasons, but I have not heard any.

jlcnuke

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Re: Contemplating living on a house boat
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2018, 05:56:07 PM »
Price seems really high to me. For that price I could get a 10 year old 45 for sailboat with nicer amenities...

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GeorgeWood

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Re: Contemplating living on a house boat
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2018, 11:59:50 AM »
Thanks for the input some of you provided.

Funny some of you assume we have no reasons for considering this, just because I didn't include them into my post, and call the idea bizarre. Yes, we have several good reasons. Many of them relate to personal circumstances: our jobs, our willingness (or unwillingness) to buy real estate at this point in our lives, personal tastes, priorities in life, etc. I don't want to elaborate on all of those here and lay out our life stories in their completeness. That's why I didn't ask if we should do this (none of you can answer this for us). Rather, I asked for experiences of people who have been there, done that, so we may judge ourselves.

What might make this idea less bizarre is the fact that we're not considering living on a boat for the rest of our lives. We see it as an opportunity to use the time we have while our kid is still young and doesn't need a lot of space, privacy, a desk for homework, etc. - say the next three years - and pursue a dream we have had for a long time. After 3-5 years, sell it, buy real estate, settle down. So a transitory experience of a kind.

GeorgeWood

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Re: Contemplating living on a house boat
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2018, 12:03:58 PM »
I don't live on a boat, but know someone with three kids (under 5) that does. Here's her blog:
http://www.windtraveler.net/

Thanks, there's a bunch of info provided here! Especially concerning safety of young children on board.

Rocketman

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Re: Contemplating living on a house boat
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2018, 07:51:00 PM »
Be sure and get a boat survey done. This will identify problems both large and small. Maintenance is very expensive and ongoing.

Good luck