Many seniors are looking for alternative ways to spend their retired years. Some look for exotic new locales to move to, others prefer tiny homes to save money and have less of an environmental impact—but what about a home that can move with you?
Houseboat living has been going on for centuries and takes two major forms: motorized and moored. Motorized houseboats can move through the water to different locations. Moored houseboats are not designed to move and can be fixed in one place. Both kinds are still used all over the world, and can be anything from roughly tied wood without any electricity to lavish homes with every creature comfort of modern technology.
Slate.com estimates, based on one family’s expenses, that it costs three hundred to eight hundred dollars less per month to live comfortably on a houseboat than it does to rent an apartment in San Diego. This includes access to all basic utilities, mail and package receipts, and access to a parking lot for the couple’s cars. The family acknowledges that at 300 square feet, space is a struggle sometimes, but the couple adjusts well, given that they are used to small living spaces.
The marinas where boats reside often feature the necessary amenities for maintaining boats—local mechanics, divers to clean the boats, someone who will come to clean the sewage tank weekly—if they are outfitted for people to live in the boats or stay for extended periods of time. However, high-quality marinas with plenty of amenities come with a higher price tag per month for boat anchorage.
There is a range in price from several hundreds of thousands of dollars to $15,000…
Prices for houseboats depend on the model, whether it is new or pre-owned, and what amenities come with it. There is a range in price from several hundreds of thousands of dollars to $15,000, cheaper than most new cars. Marina costs differ based on location, usage of amenities, and size of the houseboat.
From the previous example and the logistics of using a boat daily, we can see that houseboat living is not for every senior. For example, those who are prone to falling or have medications that could lead to faintness or dizziness should consider sailing in general to be a safety hazard. Those who are uncomfortable with exposure to sun should also avoid houseboat living, as it frequently requires time and work outside and in the sun. It is not for those who are easily made seasick or who experience balance issues.
Houseboat living suits well seniors who are physically very independent and mobile. Having experience sailing and maintaining a boat is also helpful, as that will keep the houseboat dweller safer in an emergency and save money on maintenance expenses. Renting a boat is an option to cut costs, and it also typically means that maintenance is left to the owner and not the user, so it is less of a liability if bad weather or an accident occurs. A love of fishing and a general outdoorsiness is typical of most people living in houseboats, as well.
Houseboat living does not have to take place in the United States, either. India is well-known for its impressive houseboats, for example, and many other countries offer this either as a vacation or as a viable means of living. Depending on your travel goals, you may find that sailing international waters is cheaper and more enjoyable when you are at the helm and are in no pressure to catch a flight home.
If you are unsure whether or not houseboat living is for you, there are many available options for renting a houseboat for a short period of time—anything from a few days to a few weeks. You have no obligation to sell your home or end your lease, and you can choose from beautiful lakes to the oceans. This is a great idea for family vacations, but could absolutely turn into a lifestyle for active seniors.
Becker, Jim. (October 2015). Seniors Travel to India. Senior Citizen Travel. Available at http://seniorcitizen.travel/types-of-vacationtravel/adventure-travel/seniors-travel-to-india-2/. Retrieved 1/13/2016.
Derrico, Mike. (n.d.) Houseboat Dock Slip Fees. All-About-Houseboats.com. Available at http://www.all-about-houseboats.com/houseboat-dock-slip-fees-what-prices-or-rates-do-marinas-cost-or-charge.html. Retrieved 1/13/2016.
Farzan, Antonio (June 3, 2015). What It Costs to Live on a Houseboat Year-Round. Slate.com. Available at http://www.slate.com/blogs/business_insider/2015/06/03/economics_of_boat_living_a_couple_breaks_down_the_finances_of_living_on.html. Retrieved 1/13/2016.
Wikipedia.org. (n.d.). Houseboat. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houseboat. Retrieved 1/13/2016.