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Houseboats for Sale - Your Options & Alternatives in 2020

Let's be honest - it's not easy at all to find the perfect houseboat for sale, for your dream life on water.

The reasons are multifold. Shopping for a houseboat is just like buying a new home - it's a sizable investment, and what you choose matters directly to your life quality. The difference is, there are thousands of homes for sale as you walk around the neighborhood, or simply log online. There are developed agents and communities. And you roughly know which area you are going for, so the availability is always limited.

Compared to houseboats, there never lacks a supply of new homes

Finding a houseboat for sale, on the other hand, can take you into a wild search. What's made available to you is everything from your local waterfront 1988 used models, to multi-million premium ones are simply not within most people's budget. If you live close to water, there is probably a market with houseboats for sale, but the range of selection shies away from those you can choose for houses by many times.

We'll dive into a few common options for buying houseboats in this article, and some alternatives for those who are interested to think about.


Houseboats: What They Are

Houseboats, like their names, are boats that are built to be used as private homes. They can be either powered to operate between destinations, or unmotorized to be completely docked near the shore.

Most houseboats are privately owned, or offered as vacation rentals for families and individuals.


Buying Used Houseboats Locally?

If you are looking to buy a houseboat of your own, the first place to start looking is your local second-hand markets. Whether it's second-hand online sales platforms like Kijiji (for those who live in Canada), or Facebook Marketplace or interest groups, there tends to be a continuous supply of houseboats for sale by either owners or brokers.

Local forums like Kijiji are a good source of used houseboats for sale

The benefit of this channel is the instant availability of the houseboat - upon agreement on a transaction, you can pick up your boat just as any item you get from a store. Another potential benefit, is that you might find great deals from owners who took great care of their houseboats, and continue enjoying the comfort of it despite the age.

However, buying used houseboats always comes with its inherent drawbacks too. Firstly, you can't be too picky on the size and style of the boat, because the local supply is limited to what's listed available of the moment only. You could find a model which looks good but is from 1980s, which implies it'll require more significant work for maintenance and refitting; or, there could be many houseboats which are just too big for your needs.

Alternatively, if you're not in a rush of getting a houseboat immediately, you could always stay tuned to the markets for new items that are made available.


Buying Used Houseboats from Another Country?

In our previous post, we talked about the different costs you will want to consider when buying boats abroad.

Looking into the international market will naturally give you a wider range of selection. However, the inconvenience of not being able to be there to inspect and negotiate in person is also significant, especially during the COVID time.

If you are looking to purchase a houseboat abroad, it's always recommended to hire an experienced party on your behalf to conduct a thorough inspection. Travel down to where the boat is if you can, so you can ensure the details of the boat are as you imagined from the photos or videos provided.


Buying A New Houseboat?

Just like houses, few would want to live in a second-hand houseboat, if conditions permit. For those who are experts in maintenance and mechanics, buying second-hand is a popular choice considering you can later apply most of the upgrades by hand. However, for those who are simply looking to enjoy the occasional trips on water, and don't have much time or energy on hand to continuously repair the parts and appliances on your houseboats, you might want to get a houseboat that's new so things don't start breaking so quickly.

A great benefit one should always keep in mind about buying new boats, is that it gives the buyer the freedom to customize. Unlike mass-produced commodities like clothing or home appliances, houseboats are very personal and costly items. Therefore, most manufacturers wouldn't choose to build a boat without the certain understanding that there's a buyer for it. This process is usually secured through a pre-agreed design, plan, contract and deposit between the two parties.

There are a number of questions to take into consideration, while looking for a good houseboat manufacturer,

  1. Who are they? Ask about the basics of the houseboat manufacturer to gain more understanding of them.

  2. Are they good at what they do? Do some online search about their brand, and ask about their previous sales before committing. If possible, it's also recommended that you ask to speak to a previous buyer of the houseboat similar to you, so you can gain some understanding of their purchasing process, the quality of the houseboats, and any pitfalls that they may have encountered.

  3. Do they manufacture the houseboat styles that you have in mind? It is important to note that not all houseboat manufacturers are equipped with the ability to manufacture just any houseboat styles. Large vessels like houseboats require custom moulds, which imply upfront investments from the houseboat manufacturers for each model they develop and sell. Therefore, it's important to make sure that the houseboat manufacturer you're speaking to has indeed built and sold the model that you're looking for, since many boat builders will also take others' design and floor plan to market as their own.

In addition to screening the houseboat manufacturer, you might also want to consider the process of importing and registering the boat to your country, should your supplier to be located abroad. Start by this article, and do some thorough research about rules and regulations on boat importing before you make up your mind.


Cheaper Alternative: Rent A Houseboat

If you're just an occasional leisure user, treating your houseboat similar to a vacation cottage, there might be value in considering renting a houseboat as an alternative to owning.

The benefits to renting would be the saved energy, time and costs on insurance, docking charges, and other local fees relating to owning a houseboat. Many houseboat rental businesses are available for a week-long or weekend package, inclusive of related charges. It also saves the effort to maintaining and repairing your boat - which of course could be an enjoyable process to many nonetheless.



Houseboats are just like homes, which means a good purchase will boost your life quality multifold. Therefore, carefully consider your options before making up your mind to buy or rent, and to source your houseboat locally or internationally.

There are no market index for houseboats, since each boat is so different. Set up a budget in your mind, and try work with someone who're experienced in building houseboats should you consider buying new. If they have existing models, fly down and check on them. If not, speak to someone who has purchased from them about their experience.


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