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.
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 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.
The popularity of Kettuvalloms has returned in the function as major tourist attractions.
Such a houseboat is about 60 to 70 feet (about 18 to 21 meters) long and about 15 feet (about 5 m) wide at the middle. The hull is made of wooden planks that are held together by ropes of coconut fiber; the usual wood is 'Anjili'. The roof is made of bamboo poles and palm leaves. The exterior of the boat is painted with protective coats of cashew nut oil.
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 1900s, 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.
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.
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.