If you’ve been looking for a change of scenery and are comfortable around water, you may be interested in moving into a houseboat. Houseboats have been used for recreation and residency in the U.S. for more than 100 years and there are many places across the globe where people make a permanent home out of floating real estate.

However, making the switch from land to water isn’t as simple as moving down the street. If you think the watery life is for you, there are a few things to consider.

Cities with Houseboat Neighborhoods

If your heart is set on a floating home, you may have to consider moving to one of the cities that is known for having beautiful houseboat neighborhoods along the waterfront. Seattle, Washington is one of the most well known places for houseboat living, specifically the famous Lake Union neighborhood with its unique floating homes. Other cities in the U.S. that are popular for houseboat dwellers include Tampa, Florida and Sausalito, California. Lake Tahoe is another popular spot for recreational and residential houseboating, as well as beautiful traditional lakefront homes and communities, so you can have the best of both worlds.

Houseboating is also a global way of living and neighborhoods can be found all over the world. If you’re more interested in international waters, you may want to consider the beautiful waterfront of Vancouver, B.C. or the world-renown houseboat villages in Amsterdam.

Types of Houseboats

According to The Independent, a houseboat is technically a structure sitting atop pontoons, what you’d usually think of for a houseboat, but there are different types of floating dwellings. It is common to convert commercial vessels into small or large homes for single people or families.These range from small homes, like a “narrowboat” which is usually about seven feet wide and up to 70 feet long, or a “barge,” which is a converted boat up to 12 feet wide and 50 feet long. The Independent also lists a “cruiser” as a large converted ferry or fishing ship that can be turned into a residence. Whether you go with a traditional houseboat or a converted boat, the options are endless for unique floating homes.

Costs and Fees

Just as with a traditional home, there are certain costs and regulations you need to consider. There are “mooring” costs which will run about $200 to $600 monthly. This will cover homeowner fees like docking, sewer and general maintenance. In some places, property taxes still have to be paid for houseboat ownership, just as with land-based homes. There may also be specific regulations, fees or licences depending on where you live with you houseboat and if you have other boats or water vessels. For example, according to BOATERexam.com, in Nevada, which has lakes popular for houseboat dwellers, you must have a boating license to to operate motorized watercraft more than 15 horsepower.

Maintenance Needs

Another important factor to consider when moving to the water from solid land is the differences in maintenance and upkeep. Rust and saltwater damage are common issues with floating homes. IdealHomeGarden.com suggests maintenance often depends on the material of your houseboat. Fiberglass and Aluminum are popular materials for hulls and will generally have low-maintenance costs. Steel and wood are also often used and look better, but will have higher costs. Other common maintenance requirements will be bilge pump upkeep, battery replacement and water leak repairs. Maintenance is a large part of becoming a houseboat owner and should be seriously considered when deciding if floating real estate is right for you.