Imagine waking up in a comfortable bed, in a space that’s perfectly sized for you (and a loved one). Outside, the cool sounds of water fill your ears.
You put on your robe, fill your coffee cup, and open the door to see the spectacular view of St. Johns River, Florida. You can watch the sunrise on the peaceful waters that surround you and your houseboat.
It is a peaceful life with a close-knit community, that is as flexible as you need it to be.
Here are the 9 most-popular lakes people live in houseboats!
Where are the best lakes for houseboat rentals?
There are plenty of beautiful lakes found in the US, which offer boat rentals of all kinds. After all, one of the common colloquialisms is “If it flies or floats, it’s best to rent than buy.”
If you don’t want to bite the bullet and buy a houseboat, you can rent one for a quick getaway.
1) Lake Lanier
Lake Lanier (in Georgia) offers some of the most beautiful scenery as well as offering full-service docks for houseboats.
There are also plenty of houseboats for sale and for rent on Lanier.
You can rent a houseboat on Lake Lanier for 5 hours, for anywhere from $1400 to $3500, depending on what amenities you want.
2) Lake Allatoona
Lake Allatoona, Georgia’s official website offers boat rentals through a third-party company called “Paradise Rental Boats”. While Paradise Rental Boats offers a variety of boat rentals, they do not have any houseboat rentals listed on their website.
However, on the Lake Allatoona site, they have a 32’ Mega Cruiser listed as a rental, which you can rent overnight (approximately 14 hours) for under $500.
3) Lake Powell
If you have a houseboat and want to set up camp in Lake Powell (at the border of Utah and Arizona), you can moor with confidence. The offshore marina at Lake Powell offers many services including:
- Galley services
- Overland transportation
- Houseboat turnaround services
- Launch and retrieval services
- Secure dry dock storage
- Maintenance services
- Pontoon services
- Welding and fabrication
They also have a majority of houseboats for rent including a 75-foot Odyssey Houseboat.
Between August 19th and June 5th, the rental rates run between $6,049 to $7,259 depending on how many days you want to rent this exquisite boat.
However, between June 6th and August 18th, the only option is a 7-day rental for $15,000. Summer rates.
4) Lake Hartwell
For an average of $350 a night (with a minimum purchase of two nights), you can stay on an 88-foot houseboat on the Big Water Marina and Campground at Lake Hartwell, South Carolina.
This massive boat has two bathrooms, two bedrooms (which can sleep eight people total), dishwasher, microwave, electric stove, hot tub (for six), a flat-screen TV, and air conditioning.
5) Lake Cumberland
Lake Cumberland, Kentucky is a beautiful place to spend a weekend or to spend your precious vacation time.
The offers 13 houseboats for rent including “The Independence”, which is a 90 x 22-foot houseboat. It boasts three bathrooms, eight private cabins, a hot tub which can hold 12, and can sleep approximately 18 people.
Vacations on this massive houseboat start at $6,914.
If you’re looking for something slightly smaller for you and your family, “The Escape” is a 64 x 15-foot houseboat which has a bathroom and a half bath, and four bedrooms.
While it doesn’t have a hot tub, it can sleep 10 people and the starting cost for a vacation is $1,478.
6) Lake Shasta
Lake Shasta in California offers six marinas which rent houseboats on the lake:
#1 Shasta Marina Resort offers 5 houseboats to rent:
- The Constellation sleeps 16. For a four-day rental, you’ll be looking at $5,600 (including fees and taxes).
- The Mirage I sleeps 14. For a four-day rental, you’ll be looking at $4,200 (including fees and taxes).
- The Mirage II sleeps 16. For a four-day rental, you’ll be looking at $4,900 (including fees and taxes).
- Thoroughbred sleeps 16. For a four-day rental, you’ll be looking at $4,800 (including fees and taxes).
- Sumerset sleeps 20. For a four-day rental, you’ll be looking at $6,001 (including fees and taxes).
#2 Holiday Harbor offers 7 houseboats for rent:
- The Diplomat starts at $498 for a two-night stay.
- The Monarch starts at $590 for a two-night stay.
- The Premiere starts at $647 for a two-night stay.
- The Ambassador starts at $622 for a two-night stay.
- The Marquis starts at $739 for a two-night stay.
- The Grand Marquis starts at $1,394 for a three-night stay.
- The Empress starts at $1,338 for a three-night stay.
#3 Silverthorn Resort offers six houseboats for rent.
They vary in rates depending on the season and how long you stay.
These are the prices if you were to rent one of their boats for a three-night stay, at the end of June for comparison:
- The elite Queen starts at $5,290. It can sleep quite a large group with a master penthouse suite, three private staterooms, and extra sleeping areas all over the main living area.
- The royal Queen I starts at $4,690 and can sleep up to 20 people.
- The luxurious Queen II starts at $3,890. It sleeps up to 16.
- The well-equipped Presidential starts at $2,790 and can sleep 16.
- The convenient Senator starts at $2,690 and can sleep up to 16 people.
- The economical Executive starts at $1,990. It sleeps 10 people.
#4 Jones Valley Resort offers six houseboats for rent.
Since they also vary in price depending on the season and length of stay, these are the prices for rent for a three-night stay at the end of June:
- The majestic Titan sleeps 26 and is a hefty $9590. It is the biggest in their fleet and looks to be quite a luxurious stay if you have a large group.
- The Voyager can sleep 22 (max) and is $3,890.
- The Escapade can sleep 19 at max capacity and is $4,990.
- The Odyssey sleeps 15 people and is $3,690.
- The Corinthian can sleep 12 people. The price tag for the weekend is $4,990.
- The Royal Star can sleep 12 and costs $2,190 for three nights.
#5 Antlers Resort and Marina
They offer 3 luxury houseboat rentals and five premium houseboats (with hot tubs) for rent.
For a three-night stay in the middle of summer, you can look at spending:
- The Orion (a premium houseboat) sleeps 19 and costs $4,745.
- The Genesis (a premium houseboat) sleeps 14 and costs $4,368.
- The Mirage (a premium houseboat) sleeps 16 and costs $3,555.
- The Ultimate Cruiser (a premium houseboat) sleeps 15, and costs $3,361.
- Ultimate Cruiser II (a premium houseboat) sleeps 15, and costs $3,301.
- The Ultimate Cruiser III (a luxury houseboat) sleeps 15 and costs $3,126.
- The Flybridge (a luxury houseboat) sleeps 14 and costs $2,287.
- The Deluxe Lakecruiser (a luxury houseboat) sleeps 12, and costs $1,976.
#6 Bridge Bay Resort offers four houseboats for rent.
These are the prices for a three-night stay in the middle of summer:
- The Grand Sierra EX is their largest boat and sleeps 12. It will cost you $3,400.
- The Grand Sierra can also sleep 12 but isn’t quite as big as her sister boat. It will cost you $2,700.
- The Summit can sleep 10. She will cost you $1,900.
- The Cascade can sleep up to eight guests. You’ll be spending $1,500 for a three-night stay here.
7) Lake Mead
Lake Mead in Arizona has six houseboats to rent:
- The 50’ Forever Houseboat (which sleeps 6). A three-night stay in the summer peak season will cost you $3,500.
- The 50’ XT Houseboat (which sleeps 6). A three-night stay in the summer peak season will cost you $2,852.
- The 59’ Deluxe Houseboat (which sleeps 10). A three-night stay in the summer peak season will cost you $3,510.
- The 60’ Eagle Houseboat (which sleeps 10). A three-night stay in the summer peak season will cost you $5,948.
- The 70’ Titanium Houseboat (which sleeps 12). A three-night stay in the summer peak season will cost you $7,328.
- The 75’ Xtreme Houseboat (which sleeps 14). A three-night stay in the summer peak season will cost you $9,980.
8) Lake Havasu
Lake Havasu in Arizona offers five different houseboats for rent.
Here are the prices for a four-day, three-night stay in the summer for comparison:
- 60’ Deluxe (which sleeps 10 people but can accommodate 15 passengers when moored): $3,995
- 67’ VIP (which sleeps 12 people but can accommodate 18 passengers when moored): $4,595
- 72’ Fun Seeker (which sleeps 12 people but can accommodate 20 passengers when moored): $4,995
- 75’ Executive (which sleeps 12 people but can accommodate 25 passengers when moored): $5,995
- 85’ Odyssey (which sleeps 12 people but can accommodate 25 passengers when moored): $6,495
9) Table Rock Lake
Table Rock Lake (known for its pristine blue waters and clean shorelines) is located in Missouri. They are also known for their beautiful houseboat rentals.
They have eight to choose from.
Here are the prices for a four-day, three-night stay in the summer for comparison.
Unfortunately, they did not have listed prices for all of their boats.
- The Palazzo has four has a maximum capacity for 10 people. It will cost you $3,890.
- The Astoria has a maximum capacity for 10 people as well. It will run you $2,990.
- The Regent has a maximum capacity of 10 people. It will cost you $2,990.
- The Atlantis can also accommodate 10 people. It will cost you $3,890.
- The Savoy can accommodate 14 people. Three nights will cost you $4,190.
- The Kensington can sleep, 14 people. The cost of a three-night stay is $4,190.
- The Carlyle can sleep 16 people. Three nights cost $4,690.
- The Bel-Air can also accommodate 16 people. Three nights on the Bel-Air will also cost you $4,690.
Renting versus Owning a Houseboat
If you are debating on owning a houseboat, there are a number of things to consider.
Rentals offer you the freedom of not having to worry about houseboat laws, mooring costs, and other logistics.
Renting a houseboat for a week will give you the experience you may need to help you decide if you eventually want to live on one or have one as a vacation home.
What are the laws, rules, or regulations for owning and living in a houseboat?
This question is difficult to answer because the laws, rules, and regulations for living on a houseboat vary from state to state. That is also one of the main reasons why it can be a little tricky to find a lake to moor your houseboat.
The maritime rules you have to follow when you sail or drive any other boat still applies to houseboats. This means that you can’t drive or operate the boat when drunk on alcohol or high on drugs.
Boaters are forbidden to operate an unregistered boat. You must turn on the appropriate boat lights after sunset and before sunrise.
Do you need a license to operate a houseboat?
There are two different types of houseboats: those which are permanently moored at a dock, and motorized houseboats. In order to drive a motorized houseboat, you will need to be able to provide a driver’s license to drive a houseboat. Most states also require that you have a boating license.
At the least, some states require a certification that you’ve completed a boating safety course.
According to America’s Boating Course, which provides safety courses for boaters, there are eight states in the US which don’t have a boater education law:
- South Dakoda
What do I need to know about mooring a houseboat?
When it comes to owning a houseboat and mooring it to a pile or a swing mooring in a lake, the body of water you choose should be dependent on a number of things.
- Do you need to find a lake close to where you are currently living? Where or what proximity is the dock, to the area which you want to live (there are wonderful lakes to choose from no matter where you go)?
- What are the rules for houseboats in that area?
- The size of the slip and dock
- If you need a covered slip
- What you will do in the winter (if you don’t intend to stay on your boat all year long)
- Laundry, groceries, and other housekeeping necessities
- The internet and cellular service in that area
- Are you going to be staying by yourself or with your family? And what sorts of activities are you going to need close-by?
- Do you prefer to use your houseboat as a weekend getaway, as an office for work, or for all-year stay?
- What is security like at the dock?
There are even more questions to consider, depending on how you answered these, and what your intentions are for your houseboat.
What is the average charge for dock & slip fees?
These are based on how long your boat is. There is also a fixed fee if you want full-service dockage which includes utilities like electricity and water hookups.
There are often reduced fees for minimal or limited dock services.
These fees can range anywhere from $1000 a month up to $1500 a month. Some of these dock fees also include extra services like winter storage, maintenance fees, and haul-outs.
What are the various sizes of docks?
There are specific marinas who cater to houseboats which range from 25-40 feet in length, with a beam of about 12 feet or less. There are also marinas that specialize in mid-sized houseboats (40-80 feet in length with a beam of about 12-16 feet).
The most well-equipped marinas handle the bigger boats, which can range from 80 feet to over 100 feet, with a beam anywhere from 16-20 feet wide.
Is it necessary to have a covered slip?
There are pros and cons to having a covered slip. You can prolong the life of your boat, as the cover can provide some great protection against the rain, sun, snow, and other environmental and weather elements.
However, birds and spiders like to live in the rafters. That means possible spider infestations and bird droppings.
When considering a covered slip, make sure you take into consideration your location and what boating conditions are like in your area for each season.
The Houseboat Debate Continues!
Houseboats can be a touchy subject when talking with boat owners.
Some boaters think it is a great way to live your life while others believe that it is best to rent a houseboat instead of owning one.
No matter if you want to live on one for the rest of your life, or if you won’t want to bother with the maintenance, renting a houseboat for the weekend or for a week during the sweet and sticky summer months can be one of the best ways to spend a vacation.
Houseboats are wonderful as a weekend getaway, as a lifestyle change, or as a retirement plan.
In order to create a little space for a houseboat in your life, you need to figure out what you want from it: a vacation, the freedom of life on the water, or as an end-goal?
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Morten is the founder of GoDownsize. He has filmed and interviewed people living in tiny houses and RVs since 2011. He grew up on the coast where his dad took him boating from a young age. He has completely rebuilt two RVs in which he travels with his family for months at the time. Read more about Morten here.