When most people say they “live on the river,” they mean their home is near or overlooks a river. When Tony and Robin Steinman of Hannibal make that statement, they’re being very literal. For the past five years the couple have made their home aboard a houseboat, and they couldn’t be happier.

When most people say they “live on the river,” they mean their home is near or overlooks a river. When Tony and Robin Steinman of Hannibal make that statement, they’re being very literal. For the past five years the couple have made their home aboard a houseboat, and they couldn’t be happier.

“We’re living our dream at the moment,” said Robin. “This just feels right.”

Before taking up residence on the water, the Steinmans had a four-bedroom, three-bath home in a subdivision. The house became too big after their daughter Stacy moved out for college.

“We didn’t need a house that big,” said Tony.

Move often than not, Tony and Robin would meet after work at their houseboat, where they would eat dinner, fellowship with friends and frequently spend the night. At 5 a.m. the next day they would drive home, get ready for work and repeat the cycle.

“It was crazy. We were spending more time on the boat than at our house,” said Robin.

After buying their 50-foot long by 14-foot wide houseboat, the Steinmans decided to take the plunge and sell their house.

“We decided to try it. If it did not work out, we could sell the boat and buy a smaller house,” said Tony.

“We did not want to be sitting in a nursing home one day saying, ‘I wish we had done that,’” added Robin.

Adjustments

After the decision was made to live full-time on their houseboat, next came decisions on what to keep when they downsized.

“We had to get rid of a lot of stuff. We sold it, gave it away or threw it away,” said Robin.

Today, the boat not only accommodates Robin and Tony, but their two dogs - Zeus and Huey - and two parrots - R.B. and Robertson.

While they are the only full-time residents in the marina they dock in, the Steinmans are hardly ever at a loss for company.

“It’s like all our best friends moved into the same neighborhood,” said Robin. “We’re like one big family.”

Even during the winter, things slow down only a little, according to Robin.

“We get together on Friday and Saturday nights to play cards and eat,” she said.

The Steinmans are the envy of at least some of their acquaintances.

“We’ve talked to people who would love to do it, too, but they don’t have a boat,” said Tony, noting that not every area marina permits people to live the year round. “You’ve got to like this kind of life, or you’ll hate it.”

Not everyone understands their lifestyle choice.

“We get a lot of funny questions,” said Robin. “People ask, ‘What do you do when the river comes up? How do you stay warm? How do you stay cool?’ We tell them the only difference between our house and yours is that we have a steering wheel in our living room.”

“You have house upkeep and we have boat upkeep,” said Tony, pointing out that replacement parts for the boat are rarely inexpensive.

“It’s not easier living here. It’s not harder. It’s just different,” said Robin.

Having a portable home is a perk the Steinmans enjoy.

“We try to take a couple of trips a year,” said Robin.

“We’ll take 30- or 40-mile trips up or down the river and spend a week there,” said Tony, adding that while the houseboat’s dual engines provide enough power to overcome the river’s current, gas mileage amounts to only about a mile per gallon.

Not all of Tony and Robin’s trips are made on water. The couple also own a motorhome. But they agree that sleeping in their “home on wheels” takes some getting used to.

“When we go somewhere on land and stop to spend the night, we realize we’re not moving. We sleep better when there’s (wave) movement than when we’re on dry land,” said Tony.

“It’s like being rocked by your mother,” Robin said of the wave action.

Some land-lovers have trouble adapting to life on the water.

“We’ve had times when a barge would go by or the wind was blowing that people would have to get off the boat,” said Tony.

While they love their two-bedroom, bath-and-a-half houseboat, Tony and Robin admit they’re on the lookout for something bigger.

“We’d like to have one that’s all one level,” said Tony.

“It’s a matter of finding the right boat, at the right price, in the right location,” said Robin.