Beat Monday morning glumness forever and spend next weekend cruising the Murray River in your own houseboat.
River houseboats have never been more popular, with sales agents along the Murray River selling a wealth of them during COVID and continuing to do so in 2021.
While you’re not technically allowed to live the serene water lifestyle long term, agents say there are plenty who do so, with the top-notch, five-star accommodation attracting buyers from Melbourne and Adelaide.
Combine this with inexpensive prices – especially when bought together with friends or family – and agents such as Professionals Mildura’s Loretta Paiano are now run off their feet by houseboat enquiries.
Loretta says she’s sold four houseboats in the past six months with only one left in her stock.
“With COVID and no one able to go away, people are saying, ‘OK then, I’ve spent $30,000 going overseas and for five years I might not be able to go overseas – who knows with COVID’,” Loretta says.
“‘So, let’s invest in a houseboat.’
“Families might invest in one together and Bob’s your uncle.”
But Loretta warns there is more to owning a houseboat than meets the eye – literally.
Firstly, NSW owns the Murray River and the state’s river laws apply even with mooring sites or marina berths purchased on the Victorian side of the river.
Similar to buying a car, houseboats and pontoons need to be registered and regularly serviced and comply with local rules and regulations.
“You can’t just put them on the river – you’ve got to make sure they float,” Loretta says.
“They’ve got to be up to scratch otherwise you’ll drown.”
Plus, strange as it may sound, Loretta explains that the land beneath the water of these sites and berths still requires stamp duty payments and similar remunerations.
“The water that your berth sits on is actually on land underneath so it comes across as land,” Loretta says.
“The water doesn’t just sit on anywhere – it’s got to be on something.
“Most rivers started smaller so if someone has land which has passed down from father to son, sometimes you’ll own out onto the river because the title was issued when the river was smaller.”
Loretta says most people lease a mooring site but even those who own a riverfront property still need permission to build a site on their land.
To retain any mooring site, houseboats also need to return to it every 28 days.
“There are stations along the river where you can empty out your sewerage and water and fill up your petrol,” Loretta explains.
“They’re just like a mini service station.”
Despite the rules and regulations of houseboat purchases, Loretta is confident the lovely lifestyle will always win the day.
“Lots of locals are buying houseboats – they live on the river because they love the river,” she says.
“I’ve got a friend who comes up from Melbourne every second weekend to spend time on his houseboat.
“Normally, three-bedder boats go for $300,000-$500,000 so basically, instead of having a house, people have got a houseboat – and they’re on the river.”
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