Real estate or mobile?
A fixed houseboat is technically easier, especially when it is connected to the supply and disposal on land. However, it is much more difficult to find such a berth. Mobile ships can find or change berths more easily, quite apart of course from the possibility of going on vacation by ship.
Where do i want to live Are there berths there or can I get one?
This question should definitely be clarified before buying a ship. It often helps to show a photo of the ship you want to buy or the type of ship – especially in city ports or museum harbors, where aesthetics are also important.
Are there any restrictions on ship size or draft?
That applies to the berth or the waters that I want to navigate. Example: Most of the locks on the smaller canals in France are no more than 5 meters wide. A ship for European inland waters should therefore be no wider than just under 5 meters. There are also restrictions on the depth of the inland waterways; smaller channels are often barely more than a meter deep.
If I want to be mobile, which bodies of water do I want to be able to navigate?
This is of course decisive for the type of ship I’m looking for: inland, coast or sea.
What space do I need?
To do this, isolate your own needs as precisely as possible, then check again: How many people live on board, how many rooms / cabins do I need, do I need an office, do I work on board or on land, and so on.
What is my budget?
In addition to the purchase price, there are ancillary costs: Expert, plus usually costs to take the ship out of the water for inspection. When taking over the ship, additional costs arise – in any case insurance, usually also berth, unless otherwise agreed. Then of course the transfer to the home port also costs something.
How high can the running costs be per year?
What monthly or annual expenses can I afford – berth, insurance, repair and maintenance, consumption costs for electricity, fuel and water have to be taken into account.
How will i heat?
If the ship is further north and is to be inhabited all year round, this is a crucial question. In the case of smaller ships, an auxiliary heater (hot air, powered by diesel or gas) or radiators on a diesel heater is often sufficient. A stove (a ship’s stove for diesel like “Refleks” and “Dickinson” or for diesel and petroleum like “Taylor’s” or a small stove) spreads a cozy and above all dry warmth.
For larger ships, normal building services can be used, for example an oil burner for central heating. Or even modern systems: electric, provided you generate enough electricity yourself (with solar and wind), or pellets or many other things – whether a water heat pump would work on ships, for example, has not yet been tried out.
How will i cook?
Gas is the easiest and preferred by many chefs, however not everyone wants a gas system on board. The best alternative for permanent residential operation is electric, again best if you generate enough electricity yourself or if you are mostly immobile in the port and connected to shore power. Some yachts have petroleum or alcohol stoves, but they are rather tedious in daily operation and not necessarily recommended for permanent liveaboard.
How supply and disposal?
What is the capacity of the water tanks, so how often will I have to store water? Is there a separate heating oil tank? If not, as is usually the case with ships from abroad, you have to retrofit it if necessary. Disposal in the dirty water tank for pumping out or via on-board sewage treatment plant? Or is the ship fixed and can it be connected to the local sewer system? The connections must then be winter-proof.
Telephone, Internet, TV: The decisive factor is good mobile reception through an appropriate external antenna, perhaps also with an on-board WLAN. Then communication close to the land – we are not talking about ocean crossings here – is no problem at all: most coastal waters are already reached by the mobile phone networks. Many ports have their own WLAN that you can log into; however, the speed of data transfer there is often rather medieval.
Do I have to be very knowledgeable about boats to be able to live on board?
No, I don’t have to have grown up with boats, even if that wouldn’t be a disadvantage. With common sense, willingness to learn and flexibility, I can acquire all the necessary knowledge and skills. The only thing that really matters: enthusiasm. Enthusiasm for this type of life, even in the event of setbacks or uncomfortable situations, because that’s part of it.
I can recommend this book to you on the topic of houseboats. There you can find lots of ideas about designing a houseboat.