Author Topic: Buying a house boat to live for free.  (Read 796 times)

Chris C

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Buying a house boat to live for free.
« on: June 24, 2019, 12:12:34 PM »
I'm considering buying a small houseboat to live on.

I just got a remote job and I now have the flexibility to move around.

Has anyone else considered this option for eliminating living expenses?

Are there a lot of hidden costs of owning a boat that would make it not worth the investment?

I've found boats from $14 to $150k that I could afford to buy.

It's just an idea at this point.

Rdy2Fire

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2019, 12:34:53 PM »
I thought about this years ago

For the Northeast there was a cold factor and although a marina might have pumps to circulate the water they docks would all still be frozen. Solution there was don't live on a boat where it's cold

Other factor was cost of docking which isn't free and depending on where you are can be quite expensive

Also would you buy a house boat or a boat to live on, those are two different things

Lastly being on the water, especially if salt, there is a significant amount of corrosion and repairs. If you're hand and can do that stuff great.

With all that said, I didn't do it but recently thought about it again and for the right person that doesn't own a lot and loves boating it's possible for sure.

LifeHappens

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2019, 12:38:37 PM »
Are there a lot of hidden costs of owning a boat that would make it not worth the investment?
Dislaimer: I'm a bad Mustachian. I'm on my 3rd boat in the past 10 years and I lived on a sailboat with my DH and our 2 cats for 3 months during a move.

If you live on a houseboat you will need to pay for a dock rental. The cost for this varies wildly by location, but let's say you could find dock space for $15 per foot per month. This is a reasonable cost for liveaboard space in my area. A 40 foot houseboat would cost about $600 per month, plus taxes, plus electric. So maybe $650-$700 all in.

In addition boats require lots of maintenance. If you're in saltwater you'll either have to learn to dive or hire a diver every few months to scrape the bottom. The engine needs periodic oil changes and service, just like a car. You'll need to pay for a haulout and bottom painting every 3-5 years depending on the type of water you're in. Boat appliances, like refrigerators and stoves cost more and break more easily than their house equivalents. An annual maintenance budget of $5000 per year is not out of line, unless you're capable of doing almost everything yourself.

Finally, the real killer of boat ownership is the depreciation. It's possible to shop very wisely and lose very little in depreciation. It's also possible to shop poorly and lose your shirt. I've done both :)

TLDR: Living on a houseboat will hardly be free. If you do everything right, it can be less expensive than living in a land based residence, but don't assume it will automatically be cheaper.

GizmoTX

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2019, 04:29:26 PM »
You will still need to pay dock fees; depending on where you moor your boat, this could be considerable.
Also insurance.

v8rx7guy

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2019, 04:41:41 PM »
Had a coworker that did this, but it was not a houseboat per say, more like a boat with living quarters.  He and his wife saved a ton of money and said the community was great (lots of others living on boats in the same marina.  That being said, as another poster mentioned, the biggest thing he complained about was keeping the boat warm during the winters.  Little to no insulation and also was hard to keep on top of the condensation.  You probably will have to pay some sort of mooring fee?  Or do you have a free accommodation?

sol

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2019, 04:47:37 PM »
I'm pretty sure that "free boat" is an oxymoron.

BicycleB

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #6 on: June 24, 2019, 05:53:07 PM »
I've had several family members who lived on boats, not counting various Navy tours. None of them were free. They all liked the experience, but most had prior boating before they did the liveaboard thing. All docked in warm waters (think California).

Space is at a premium in boats.

caleb

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #7 on: June 24, 2019, 07:41:17 PM »

Roland of Gilead

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #8 on: June 24, 2019, 08:11:58 PM »
Take the $14k to $100k and throw it in a fireplace.  Trust me, in the long run that will save you a lot of money over buying a boat.

Linea_Norway

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2019, 03:50:45 AM »
Just make sure you can have a reliable and decent internet connection where you live, as you depend on it for your work.

RyanAtTanagra

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2019, 04:06:13 PM »
Not sure why you're thinking this would be free.  It's far from it.  I am currently living on a sailboat and doing it about as cheaply as you can while still maintaining a normal life (people, hopefully, can't tell I live on a boat unless I've told them).  It's running about $1000/month average, but hard to say as I'll probably be due for a haul out and bottom paint this winter, and other miscellaneous stuff that comes up when you get the boat out of the water, so that average may go up.

Most areas of the US have restrictions on living on a boat, at least doing so in one location.  You're free to sail/motor around, but if you want a slip in a marina that you live in 24/7, that may be a no-no.

I have a journal if you want more detail into how it works, with a link to my boat expenses spreadsheet:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/journals/moving-onto-a-boat-an-experiment

Le Poisson

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Re: Buying a house boat to live for free.
« Reply #11 on: June 25, 2019, 04:21:22 PM »
Chiming in from Canada - in the Toronto area.

We had a 25 ft sailboat in a local marina as a hobby for years, and that shit was expensive! But just for fun, i did the math on a liveaboard as cheap as possible without any maintenance and assuming a total loss of the boat. Buying a cheap 35-40' boat (what I would want) for around $15K, it would take 5 years for the boat to break even with a rental apartment even here in our hot housing market.

In those 5 years I would have to shower at a marina, only eat what fit in the boat's fridge (tiny) and cook on 2 burners. Also, since the boat would be inoperable due to the lack of maintenance, I wouldn't be able to move it if the marina changed hands or made a "no liveaboards" rule, which many around here are doing. This risk poses a problem - especially if you are thinking that a boat is the ultimate in LCOL mobility.

Plan B would be to ditch the fees at the marina and live "on the hook" - drifting at anchor out in some bay. In theory this would allow you the freedom of the boaty life without the fees. It would also mean no showers or hygiene, no electricity unless you spent $$$ on a solar setup. Many jurisdictions have bylaws limiting how long your boat can stay at a mooring or anchorage, so you would have to relocate regularly, meaning upkeep to your running systems... and increased maintenance costs.

So basically, there is no free rent here. You will live cheaper, but it will take years of discomfort to come out ahead. A cheap batchelor pad is a better deal... but I still dream of sailing south some day.