Some of us live in apartments. Others live in homes. Some of us live in the city. Others live in the suburbs or the country. Have you ever given any thought to where you might live when you’re grown?

What kind of house do you think you’ll live in one day? Something like the home you grew up in? Or something different altogether? One thing is likely: you probably have never thought of living on a boat when you grow up!

Have you ever been for a ride on a boat? Maybe your grandfather has taken you fishing on a boat. Or perhaps your parents have taken you on a vacation cruise ship. But have you ever lived on a boat for an extended period of time?

Houseboats are boats that have been built — or remodeled — to be used as a place to live for an extended period of time. Some houseboats don’t travel. They merely stay tied to a dock permanently. Most houseboats, though, are meant to be used to travel around lakes, rivers or even oceans.

Houseboats can be small, simple boats that feature the basics necessary for day-to-day life. They can also be large, luxurious vessels that are nicer than most homes found on the land!

If you visit most any large lake in the United States, you’ll find houseboats. Sometimes people rent them to use as a place to stay while on vacation. Others use them as a place to stay during the summer on weekends.

Although for hundreds of years boats have been used as a place to live — especially on long voyages — recreational houseboating is a more recent pastime. Most people believe recreational houseboating got its start at Lake Cumberland in Kentucky in the late 1940s.

Today, entire houseboat neighborhoods can be found in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. Of course, you can find people living on houseboats all along the coasts of the United States.

One of the most popular things to do with houseboats is to rent them with a group of friends for a fun vacation on a lake. Not only can you move your “house” for a nice change of view whenever you want, but you’re always close to the action on the water.

There are many lakes in the United States where houseboating is popular. Some examples include Lake Powell, Lake Mead and Lake Shasta. Do you know of a local lake in your area with houseboats?

Lake Cumberland, where houseboating got its start, remains a popular spot, too. In fact, most of the houseboats built in the United States are constructed in factories in the counties around Lake Cumberland.

The United States isn’t the only place in the world where houseboats are popular, though. In India, for example, large houseboats that resemble exotic barges are used for leisure trips down local rivers. These houseboat trips have become a popular tourist attraction.

58 Join the Discussion

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    • Hola Jose, we’re glad you’re here! We are so happy that you have learned something new about houseboats! We think your cruise sounds very cool, we bet you had a great experience with your parents! Thank you for WONDERing with us today, Wonder Friend! :)

  1. Wow! I knew there were boats with beds and a mini fridge in it, but never an entire house! That is real cool! I think tomorrow’s wonder will NOT be about opposite day. :)

    • Hi there, Alyssa, we are so happy that you’ve learned something new about houseboats! It’s pretty AMAZING to think about everything that can be on a boat and it’s still able to float! If you like the water, a houseboat may be the perfect place to call home! We can’t wait for tomorrow’s Wonder! We love your guess, too! See you tomorrow! :)

    • How right you are, Wonder Friend B! We think you have done a great job comparing the differences between living on a boat now and back in the day! We bet technology has made living on a houseboat much different than the days before computers. However, having a compass was a necessity for all who lived or worked on the water! Thank you for sharing today! :)

    • You’ve got that right, Tanner! Many people who live on boats will take advantage of eating canned goods, too! In case fish are not easy to catch a certain day, there is always a backup option for dinner. Also, many houseboats are docked at a pier, so the folks who live on the boat can go in to town whenever they like, but can sleep on the water, too! Thanks for sharing your comment with us today, Wonder Friend! :)

  2. We have 64 foot speed boat (baja) we sleep on it every weekend. It goes 160 mph and it is really cool. I would sleep on it, it has quad 1100 that makes it 4400 horsepower– it’s stronger than a tug boat.

    • Thank you for sharing your SUPER adventures on your speed boat, Hunter P! It sounds like a COOL way to spend a weekend! We bet there is a lot of hard work that goes in to owning and caring for a boat, but resting on the calming water sounds like a great reward! It sounds like a very powerful boat– we are so glad you shared your story with us! Thanks, Wonder Friend! :)

  3. I have a 104 foot boat. It is a yacht, it is very cool. It has 6 1000 horsepower, it makes the total 6000 horsepower. It is stronger than two tug boats together.

    • Hi there, Patrick B! Thank you for sharing your cool boat story with us– that sounds like a WONDERful way to get around! We bet you have a lot of experience with boats after working on such a powerful watercraft! Nice work, Wonder Friend! :)

    • Hi there, FaZe ReZist, thanks for commenting on Wonderopolis today! We love your three points about living on a houseboat– we are glad you’re WONDERing with us! :)

    • We love your sense of adventure, Morgan! We bet it would be SUPER cool to live on a houseboat– we would fall asleep to the gentle rocking of the waves. Thanks for sharing your comment today– we love that you have been on a speed boat, too! :)

  4. It is possible to live on a boat, you need the supplies. I’ve slept on a boat for week, it’s the best– you should try it wonderopolis and fans. Great wonder, peace :)

    • SUPER points, Jacob– we think the right tools and supplies are very important when living on a houseboat. We bet you had a SUPER time for that week– sleeping on a boat would take some getting used to, but what a COOL experience! We hope to sleep on a boat very soon! Thanks for leaving your super comment, Jacob! :)

  5. Hi, the houseboats are cool, unless they sink. They would be awesome to live in. It might be scary if you are afraid of water.

    • HELLO, Tigers in 3rd grade, we’re so glad you’re here! Thank you for sharing your comment about houseboats today. We understand that it can be scary to live on the water if someone has a fear of water, but we bet there are plenty of people who have successfully lived in houseboats– and still do! We think it’s all about personal preference… wherever you feel at home is most important! :)

    • YIKES, what a good question, Mrs. Foster’s Class!! We bet there is always the chance of meeting a shark or another type of sea life while in the ocean– they call the ocean home, too! However, a lot of recreational houseboats are on lakes, where sharks don’t live. We think you have a great question and we Wonder what types of tools and safety equipment you would want on a houseboat of your own? :)

    • That’s a SUPER question from the 3rd graders in Mrs. Armfelt’s class! WAY TO WONDER, team! :) We think that houseboat owners have to take extra special care of their homes in order to prevent leaks. However, the houseboat itself is made of different, special material that keeps the house safe from water and prevents leaks! A leak, or another type of issue could occur on a houseboat– just like you might have an issue with your house if a window or pipe broke! We Wonder if you can do some more research of your own using your very COOL library to find out how large the biggest houseboat is! :)

    • Hi there Mia, we’re sorry to hear you didn’t enjoy our Wonder today! We appreciate your comment and we hope to Wonder again with you soon! :)

    • Hi there Fr3d, thanks for leaving a comment today! We’re glad you enjoyed our Wonder today– it’s so much fun to learn about cool, unique places to live! :)

  6. Hi Wonderopolis! We thought the house boat was really cool! We enjoyed thinking about where we would live in the future! A few of us would love to have a nice big house boat!

    We have no idea what tomorrow’s wonder will be. We are completely baffled!

    • Hi Ms. Moreland’s class! We’re so glad to see your comment on this WONDERful Monday! :) We are oh-so-happy that you enjoyed today’s Wonder– it’s a pretty cool home to think about! We LOVE using our imaginations to think about where we would like to live in the future! We will join you and do some WONDERing of our own today– what a great idea to think about! Fear not, Wonder Friends, sometimes our clues are tricky and sly! We will see you tomorrow when we uncover tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day®! :)

  7. We used to have a boat with a bathroom, living room, three bedrooms, and a small kitchen! We stayed over night in it all the time!!!!

    • WOW, Kayla, thank you for sharing your super cool houseboat experience with us! The idea of living on a boat sounds very, very cool to our friends at Wonderopolis– even some Wonder Friends on the site have agreed! :) We bet living on a boat took a bit of adjusting, but we think it felt like “home” in no time at all! Have a WONDERful day, Kayla! :)

  8. Houseboats are really, really awesome! They seem very, very big and you can float and live on the water! You can go fishing whenever you want to! They have ovens and kitchens, too! How do the kids go to school, though?

    • HOORAY, we are so happy the Tigers in 2nd grade are here today! :) What a cool idea– having your house on the water! For those who enjoy the sea life, it sounds like an AWESOME idea! We think a lot of families who live on houseboats enjoy riding around the lake during the day on the weekends, but they usually go back to the dock, make sure their home doesn’t float very far during the night, and then head to school in the morning. Or, if a family prefers to learn while they cruise around from place to place, a parent or tutor may teach the children at home! We LOVE all the WONDERing you have done today! :)

  9. Before I even watched this video I thought you could because it’s kind of like a motor home but in the water! I think tomorrow’s wonder is about the opposite day!

    • WAY to go, Grace, you made a GREAT connection between a motor home and a houseboat! We think the mobile lifestyle is a SUPER COOL way to live! :) We can’t wait to find out what tomorrow’s Wonder will bring! :)

  10. Hello there,
    This was a great wonderopolis I knew that you can have a boat house but you put more detail in it and now I know all about House boats. Thank you for this wonderopolis, I can’t wait to see the one for tomorrow, have a Great day!

    • Hi there Karin, we are so glad you’re here, WONDERing with us today! :) It’s so much fun to learn about cool places to call home, like a houseboat! We are so happy to have you here, Karin! Thank you for commenting, Wonder Friend! :)

    • YAY, we’re so happy that you liked WONDERing about houseboats today, Karla G! We are having a great time learning new and exciting things with SUPER Wonder Friends, like you! :)

    • Hi there, Leah, we’re so glad you’re here today! We Wonder if you’ll have a chance to live on a houseboat, or maybe vacation on one, in the future? That sure sounds fun! :)

    • Hi there, Leonte! Thanks for sharing your comment about living on a houseboat with us! We bet you could do a lot by using your imagination– it could be fun to take a break from the TV and make up some games of your own! We hope you have a SUPER day! :)

    • Who knows, one day you might decide to live on a houseboat when you get a place of your own, Trevor! We love your enthusiasm and we’re happy you’re WONDERing with us today! :)

    • WOW, we’re so glad you shared your comment with us, Fishermen! We bet life on the water is great! Have a WONDERful day! :)

    • WOW, that’s pretty cool, Jdog! We bet Lake Erie is chilly but beautiful this time of year! Thanks for sharing your comment with us! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Can you live on a boat?
  • When did recreational houseboating become popular in the United States?
  • Where are some popular houseboating hotspots?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

So what do you think? Would you like to live on a houseboat? Why or why not?

There are obviously some benefits. You would probably have a great view of the water all the time. If you like to swim, you’re only a few steps from getting wet.

There might be some drawbacks, though. During a storm, you might get seasick. And what about getting to school? Would you have to ride a ferry instead of a school bus?

If you think you’d like to live on a houseboat someday, take a shot at designing your very own houseboat. Grab some paper and some markers or crayons and get to work. How big would your houseboat be? What comforts of home would it have?

When you’re finished, post a picture of your homemade houseboat design on Facebook. We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

Still Wondering

Explore Science NetLinks’ Buoyant Boats lesson to learn how to design and construct a boat that takes into account factors such as buoyancy, the properties of materials and design constraints.

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day might be the opposite of what you expect!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.