Outdoors - 13 min read

9 Best Boats For Living Abroad (Complete With Photos!)

Jessica Langille

Jessica Langille, Updated October 26, 2022

Have you been dreaming of living abroad in a boat? More people are ditching their hectic lifestyles on land and enjoying a simple life on the water. There are many benefits to living on a boat, but before you take the plunge, you should know what the best boats to live abroad on are. After all, just because a boat has a cabin doesn’t mean it’s suitable to live in.

Houseboats are a popular choice for living abroad. These boats are just like being in a tiny house on the water. If you want to travel to several different destinations, canal boats are one of the best options to live on. Another great choice is the trawler boat. Trawlers are very stable because they’re built on platforms.

There are several types of boats that you can turn into a home. Are you interested in living on a boat, but aren’t sure which boat is right for you? Today, we’re going to talk about the 9 best boats for living abroad. We will let you know what to expect when you’re living on the different types of boats and what the best brands are. Keep reading to find out more.

1. Houseboat

Houseboats are the most common type of boat to live on. The interior and exterior of a houseboat will resemble a house. These boats have been designed and modified so people can live in them full-time. They are typically built to have a large flat bottom. Most houseboats don’t have a motor. Instead, they are moored.

The name says it all with the houseboat. Inside, you can expect many of the same amenities you would find in a house. They are fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. A houseboat will have plenty of floor space to make it comfortable for living.

Pros Of Living On A Houseboat

  • Cost of living. Living in a houseboat is a lot more affordable than owning a house or renting an apartment unit. In certain states, you won’t have to pay property taxes either.
  • Less housework. When you live in a houseboat, you only have to worry about keeping the inside of your home clean. You don’t have to worry about yardwork, like raking leaves, cutting the grass, or shoveling snow.
  • Spacious. Houseboats offer a lot more space than many of the other types of boats you can live on.

Cons Of Living On A Houseboat

  • Stay in one place. One disadvantage of houseboats vs other boats you can live in is that they are made to be docked the majority of the time. This isn’t the type of boat to get if you plan on doing a lot of traveling. It’s better for people that have a place to dock and a desire to live on the water.

2. Canal Boat

The most common type of boat to live on in Europe is the canal boat. A canal boat is also known as a narrowboat. These are long and narrow boats that provide enough room to live on. Surprisingly, many canal boats offer a lot of space in the cabin. In fact, some canal boats offer enough room for up to 8 people to sleep.

These boats were originally made for cruising along rivers, canals, and other narrow spaces. While they are most popular in the UK, people from all over the world are making homes in canal boats.

Pros Of Living On A Canal Boat

  • Move around. With a canal boat, you can easily travel to different locations. This is a better choice boat if you’re interested in moving around on your own terms.
  • Cozy cabin. If you enjoy a minimalistic lifestyle, you’ll enjoy how comfortable the cabins are on canal boats. These cabins may be narrow, but the floor plans provide enough room for a kitchenette and bathroom.
  • Explore canals. Are you thinking of living in the UK on a canal boat? This is a great way to explore the UK canal system.

Cons Of Living On A Canal Boat

  • Lack of privacy. If you’re living with one or more people, you won’t get a lot of privacy. It’s a tight space, so you’ll want to make sure you’re compatible with the person/people you’re living on the boat with. You will be in each other’s personal space a lot.

3. Trawler

Trawlers were originally known as a working person’s boat. However, people have discovered that they are also excellent boats to live on. Since trawlers are built on hulls, there is already an excellent platform to work with for modifying the boat into a home. Many people prefer trawlers over other boats to live on because of how stable they are.

Do you love being on the water, but aren’t sure if you’ll enjoy the motion of the waves? If so, a trawler may be the best type of boat for you to live on.

Pros Of Living On A Trawler

  • More space. There is a lot more volume to work with when modifying a trawler to live on. This allows you to have more kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom space. You can also enjoy more space for entertaining on the deck. It won’t feel near as crowded as other types of boats.
  • More headroom. Trawlers also offer more headroom below the deck. This makes it easier to move around.
  • Easy to enter. It’s very easy to get in and out of trawler boats. You can invite anyone you like on board without worrying if it will be too difficult for them to get on.

Cons Of Living On A Trawler

  • Slow moving. Trawlers aren’t a speedy boat. While you can travel around in them, it will take more time to get to your destination. The engine isn’t very fast and you won’t have the wind on your side.
  • Higher gas budget. Trawlers use a lot of gas while cruising, so you will have to be prepared to pay for that. Another disadvantage is that the engine can be very loud.

4. Sailboat

There is a large community of people that live on sailboats. While this may not be the first type of boat that comes to mind, they actually make very good homes. One of the main reasons that sailboats are becoming a more popular choice to live in is because they are safe on nearly any type of water, like rivers, lakes, and oceans.

People are drawn to the idea of living on a sailboat because they have more freedom. They can move around and visit different countries on their own schedule.

Pros Of Living On A Sailboat

  • Save money. Sailboats are cheaper to run because you can use the wind for power. In the event that there’s no wind, you can operate a sailboat with gas. However, when the wind is blowing, you can use it as free energy.
  • Sailing community. Once you go down this path (or stream) you’ll feel like part of a club. Sailboat enthusiasts have their own community and look out for one another. If you need a helping hand, spare parts, or simple advice, there will always be someone in your corner.
  • Fun lifestyle. If you’re interested in living on a sailboat, it’s likely that you already enjoy sailing. Life on a sailboat means you’ll always get to enjoy your favorite water activities, even when you’re not on vacation. On top of sailing, you can also enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or fishing whenever you want.

Cons Of Living On A Sailboat

  • Mold and mildew. Sailboats can be very damp places to live. If you choose to live on one, you will be in a constant battle combating mold and mildew growth. While regular mildew cleaners will work, the problem will continue to come back.

5. Catamarans

Catamaran boats are built on two parallel hulls. Modern catamaran boats can be modified to turn the center cockpit into living quarters. However, catamaran boats come in several different sizes. The best size of boat to choose for living on is one that’s 37 to 47 feet long. If your catamaran is smaller than that, it will be too crowded to live on.

Pros Of Living On A Catamaran

  • Multiple cabins. Catamaran boats typically feature several cabins connected to a cockpit. This allows you to keep your bedroom area separate from the kitchen and living room spaces. If you’re living with other people abroad, you will be able to get more privacy by having multiple cabins.
  • Very stable. Similar to trawler boats, catamarans are very stable. Since the living quarters are balanced between 2 hulls, people onboard won’t feel the motion of the water.

Cons Of Living On A Catamaran

  • Expensive. If you want to live in a boat to avoid the high costs of a house, you may be disappointed by catamaran price tags. Comfortable catamaran boats that are equipped for living on can often be close to the price of a house. Some catamarans exceed $500,000.

6. Trimarans

A trimaran boat consists of one main hull connected to 2 outer hulls. They are becoming just as popular as catamaran boats to live on. Other than the number of hulls, the main difference between a trimaran and a catamaran is the speed. You will be able to travel at a much faster speed than you would on a catamaran.

Pros Of Living On A Trimaran

  • Very safe. One of the safest types of boats to live on is a trimaran. Any boat with hulls is made to be stable. Since trimarans have 3 hulls and are very wide, they are safe and stable on the water. Most trimaran boats also have center weights and a complete anti-drift plan.
  • Travel faster. Since the weight of the trimaran is spread throughout three narrow hulls, the boat is capable of reaching faster speeds. While the boat may be going faster, you’re less likely to feel it because of how stable it is.
  • Enjoy the scenery. Trimaran boats are best suited for people that enjoy spending time outdoors. There is more deck space than cabin space for lounging. This is great news for people that want to live on a boat to spend more time in nature.

Cons Of Living On A Trimaran

  • Less spacious. Compared to other boats that we’ve talked about today, a trimaran offers less space. The space below the deck is very limited. This is okay for someone who lives alone and enjoys their privacy. However, if you want to invite guests onboard, it may feel too crowded.

7. Converted Barges

Converted barges are basically upgraded canal boats. With a canal boat, there is no space below the deck. However, a converted barge has an additional area below the deck where you can set up a living space. If you’re interested in a narrowboat but want more space, a converted barge may be the perfect choice for you.

Barges are long boats that are used on the river. They were originally made for shipping freight and touring narrow bodies of water. Barges can be converted to be similar to houseboats. The main difference is, they are better traveling in.

Pros Of Living On A Converted Barge

  • Stylish. The converted barge, also known as a Dutch barge, is one of the most stylish boats on our list. This is the type of boat that your friends look forward to visiting. You can host dinners and intimate gatherings without feeling crowded. You can also enjoy music and laughter without bothering any neighbors.
  • Cozy. One of the great aspects of living on a converted barge is that you’re able to work with the floor plan to create a very comfortable space. While living on a boat does require people to adopt a minimalist lifestyle, you will still be able to bring some of your favorite items onboard.

Cons Of Living On A Converted Barge

  • Extra work. In order to keep your converted barge in good condition, you will have to become familiar with maintenance. The work is often more than people expected. There is a strong possibility you will deal with leaking windows, pipes, and other issues.
  • Slippery. During colder months and damp days, the deck can become very slippery. While you may have thought that living on a boat gets you out of yardwork duty, you will still need to sweep up leaves and keep the deck clear.

8. Sport Fishing Boats

Fishing enthusiasts can live on a sport fishing boat. It’s not common for someone to live on a fishing boat 365 days a year. However, people that participate in competitive fishing or fish professionally often stay on their fishing boat instead of at a hotel. They may live on the boat for anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months at a time.

This may not be the first type of boat you think of when choosing a boat to live on. However, if you fish, it may be worth considering. This is because fishing boats provide a good amount of space and are built to handle rough conditions on the water.

Pros Of Living On A Sport Fishing Boat

  • Plenty of room. You won’t feel like you’re stuck in a box living on a sport fishing boat. There is a good amount of room above and under the deck. This allows you to have a comfortable bedroom and a functional kitchen.
  • Safe all year. Fishermen don’t stop their job just because the weather is poor. Instead, they go out in boats that are safe and strong enough to handle whatever weather is thrown their way. You can feel safe aboard a sport fishing boat any time of year.

Cons Of Living On A Sport Fishing Boat

  • Funky odors. One of the downfalls of living on a sport fishing boat is that you are more likely going to have smelly surroundings. Boats in general are susceptible to funky smells, but boats with fishing activity usually smell the worst. You will have to do regular cleaning and sanitizing on a fishing boat.

9. Luxury Yacht

If you want a fabulous lifestyle at sea, a luxury yacht might be the right choice for you. Since yachts aren’t typically designed for living on, it will take some planning to create a comfortable home on board for you. When done right, luxury yachts can be so comfortable and stylish that you won’t want to go back to land.

While luxury yachts are livable, they often aren’t a first choice for staying in year-round. Many people that choose a yacht to live in, only use it for short durations.

Pros Of Living On A Luxury Yacht

  • Stylish interior. Since yachts are designed to be lavish, you can expect an interior that you’re impressed by.
  • Customization. In order to make your yacht suitable for living on, it will have to be customized. This allows you to choose amenities for comfort and basic living.
  • Fun lifestyle. Who doesn’t want to be on a yacht 24/7? You can cruise around to different destinations on one of the most luxurious types of vessels.

Cons Of Living On A Luxury Yacht

  • Too cold. Yachts are not an ideal place to live when the temperature starts to drop. If you want to live on a yacht, it should be for a seasonal adventure only. When winter comes, it will be too cold on board.

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