AskDefine | Define houseboats

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  1. Plural of houseboat

Extensive Definition

For the movie, see Houseboat (film)
A houseboat is a boat that has been designed or modified to be used primarily as a human dwelling. Some houseboats are not motorized, because they are usually moored, kept stationary at a fixed point.

Use of houseboats

Houseboats are common as permanent dwellings in Southeast Asia; in some other areas, they may serve more frequently as secondary or vacation homes or for tourism.


In Australia, especially on the Murray River and the sunny coastline of Queensland, there are many motorised, pontoon-based houseboats with two or more bedrooms; some of these houseboats have more than one level or multiple stories (floors). Some are privately owned as either a primary residence or a holiday shack. Many are also available for hire (rent) as self-driven holiday destinations with accommodation for four to perhaps a dozen persons. Many men enjoy gathering together to fish and drink alcohol in the safe passages of the Coomera River and The Great Sandy Straits near the world's largest sand island - Fraser Island.


In Canada, houseboats are gaining major popularity in British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec as there is an abundance of perfectly suited rivers and lakes for houseboaters to enjoy. The Rideau Canal system is a historic waterway known for its picturesque setting and quaint villages. The town of Sicamous, on Shuswap Lake, British Columbia, is said to be the "Houseboat Capital of the World"

The Netherlands

In Europe, some of the finest and costliest examples of houseboats can be seen along the canals of Amsterdam, which even has houseboat hotels. Houseboats are very expensive nowadays in Amsterdam because of the limited number of moorings; this expense has reduced the likelihood that the approximately 2,400 families that live on the inner waters of Amsterdam will find themselves confronted by new neighbour boats.


Unlike their counterparts in Kerala, the houseboats in Srinagar, Jammu & Kashmir are usually stationary. They are usually moored at the edges of the Dal and Nageen lakes. Some of the houseboats there were built in the early 1900's, and are still being rented out to tourists. These houseboats are made of wood, and usually have intricately carved wood panelling. The houseboats are of different sizes, some having up to three bedrooms apart from a living room and kitchen.
Many tourists are attracted to Srinagar by the charm of staying on a houseboat, which provides the unique experience of living on the water in a cedar-paneled elegant bedroom, with all the conveniences of a luxury hotel. Srinagar's thousand or so houseboats are moored along sections of the Dal and Nagin Lakes and river Jhelum, each decorated fancifully and named romantically and even whimsically. Like hotels, houseboats vary in degree of luxury and have been accordingly graded by the Department of Tourism. A luxury houseboat, like a luxury hotel has fine furniture, good carpets and modern bathroom fittings, while the ‘D category’ (the lowest category) of houseboats, like low-budget hotels, is spartanly furnished. Like hotels too, houseboats vary widely in their locations. Some overlook the main road, others look out onto lotus gardens and yet others face tiny local markets and villages, all right in the middle of the lake! All houseboats, regardless of category, have highly personalized service. Not only is there always a "houseboy" for every boat, but the owner and his family are never far away. The cost per day of hiring a houseboat includes all meals and free rides from the houseboat to the nearest jetty and back, as no houseboat on the lakes is directly accessible from the banks. Every standard houseboat provides a balcony in the front, a lounge, dining room, pantry and 3 or more bedrooms with attached bathrooms. All houseboats not moored to the bank of the river or lakes provide a shikara as a free service from the houseboat to the nearest Ghat (jetty). Virtually every houseboat in Srinagar has been provided with a municipal water connection.

New Zealand

In New Zealand houseboating is developing as a holiday activity. Whangaroa Harbour on Northland's east coast is a land locked harbour that provides houseboating.

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, canal narrowboats are used as homes and also as mobile, rented, holiday accommodation. Narrowboats were originally used for bulk transport of raw materials and fuel on canals constructed at the start of the Industrial revolution. Nowadays, the canal network is mainly used for recreation and is different to typical holiday locations, which are usually based in coastal or rural areas, because canals are inland and often pass through many former historical, industrial, urban areas.
In coastal regions of the United Kingdom, the beached hulls of old boats and ships have been used as homes in the past, for example, Peggotty's houseboat of the 1840s in the novel David Copperfield. The few that remain today are more likely to be used as holiday accommodation than as homes.

United States

In the United States, houseboats are gaining in popularity. Recreational houseboating in the United States started in the late 1940s when people were looking to stay on the water for longer periods of time. Lake Cumberland in Kentucky is considered the birthplace of houseboating in the USA. Today one can find motorized houseboats with over . of living space.
Seattle, Washington is home to a relatively large collection of floating houseboat neighborhoods, particularly in Lake Union and Portage Bay. The earliest houseboats in Seattle were recorded in 1905, and peaked with over 2000 houseboats in the 1930s. There are currently approximately 500 houseboats in Seattle. Most houseboats are designed and built for inland lakes and waterways only. Renting houseboats has also become popular. In addition, houseboats have been used for commerce; on the Northern Neck of Virginia, Chesapeake National Bank had a floating bank branch called the Boat 'n Bank that provided bank services to watermen. Sausalito, California also has one of the most noted collections of float homes that were owned at various times by the likes of famous musicians, film stars, authors, and other notables, from the hippie era until even today. Like many areas where float homes have taken hold, battles have brewed between float home owners, local and state government, and the local establishment (which includes land-based home owners). Float home owners had fought established land-based tax schemes whereby float home owners sought relief from real estate taxes. The state won the battle with the shadow tax allowing the state to make the case that property beneath the float home was improved by the shadow the float home cast upon the bottom.

For recreation

Houseboating is a very popular recreational activity for groups of people of all ages aboard houseboats of all varieties ranging from more modest 30-40 foot boats to -plus luxury houseboat models. Houseboating is appealing due to scenery, proximity to other outdoor activities (hiking, boating, beaches, etc.), and potential to move the house for a change of view or neighbors.

Houseboating lakes

Lake Powell is a massive primordial red-rock canyon filled with bright blue water and endless sandstone scenery. Houseboating on Lake Powell is an extremely popular vacation option for good reason: the imposing Glen Canyon Dam impounds water from the Colorado River to form almost of shoreline which is more than the entire West Coast of the United States. Lake Powell also has some of the United States' finest fishing for bass, bluegill, green sunfish, walleye, black crappie, northern pike, and catfish.
Lake Mead is the largest man-made lake in North America. Its sandy shores and welcoming blue hues are perfectly suited to houseboaters, swimmers, sunbathers, and fishermen while its desert rewards hikers, wildlife photographers, and roadside sightseers. Located 30 minutes from Las Vegas, Lake Mead is convenient and accessible by air.
Lake Shasta is located in the mountains just outside of Redding, California. Lake Shasta presents a scene of clear water surrounded by mountain slopes filled with lush California foliage. This serpentine lake has hundreds of coves and byways to explore.
Lake Cumberland is the vacation destination for millions of visitors every year. Because of the warm weather and relatively long season, visitors have numerous activities to choose from including houseboating, camping, fishing, canoeing, hiking, and others.
Lake Amistad sits on the United States-Mexico border and with over 800 miles of cliffs and sandy beaches to explore. Lake Amistad is an oasis of color in the south Texas desert.
Trinity Lake is west of Lake Shasta. This lesser known yet equally striking lake has secluded coves and beaches which make great bases for exploration and fishing opportunities abound.
Lake Mohave's expansive location caters to boaters, swimmers, sunbathers, and fishermen. Three of America's four desert ecosystems—the Mohave, the Great Basin, and the Sonoran Deserts—meet in Lake Mead National Recreation Area. As a result, this seemingly barren area contains a surprising variety of plants and animals, some of which may be found nowhere else in the world.
In New York, houseboats have also become a major part of the great South Bay on Long Island. Many people have lived on them for a while.

Unofficial houseboats

Many owners of yachts don't sail them often; and some use them exclusively for shoreside entertaining, as in the film Striptease. A few yacht owners who can afford the cost of a comfortable yacht but temporarily lack a long-term onshore home, may choose to live on a yacht. In many jurisdictions, this is illegal, but some such people have escaped notice by living quietly.


In Zimbabwe, specifically on Lake Kariba houseboats have been in use since the creation of the lake in the late 1950's/early 1960's. This is undoubtedly one of the most luxurious ways to experience the Zambezi basin and all the associated wildlife, as it is possible to view a lot of game as they come down to the water for drinking, and to cool themselves down.
houseboats in Czech: Hausbót
houseboats in Danish: Husbåd
houseboats in German: Hausboot
houseboats in Dutch: Woonboot
houseboats in Norwegian: Husbåt
houseboats in Finnish: Asuntolaiva
houseboats in Swedish: Husbåt
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