Costs and FAQs on Living Aboard a Boat
Mark Nicholas – livingaboard.net
Living Aboard is nothing like most can imagine and we are proud to share with you our thoughts. Here are some FAQs on living aboard.
How much does it cost to live aboard a boat?
It depends. Questions of cost when it comes to boating are not easy to answer without a bit of other information. It really depends not only on the boat, but your location, climate tolerance, storage requirements, marina and more. How often you use your boat, as well as the conditions in which you use it, also can have a substantial impact on costs and expenses.Nevertheless, this is among the most important questions you can have – and as they say… if you have to ask the question about cost, then reducing costs and finding ways to live a manageable lifestyle is probably something you care deeply about.
So can living aboard save you money versus an apartment or home purchase? Sure. Will it save you money? That depends. Some folks choose this lifestyle for the sole purpose of saving money. Others love the lifestyle. Still others seek the luxury of a multi-million dollar yacht with a full time crew. Some are comfortable with few amenities. Some allow maintenance to slip. Others are much the opposite. With these variables in mind I created a spreadsheet to help you assess your own choices and circumstances. Here is the link: CLICK HERE FOR SPREADSHEET. I’m proud of this spreadsheet since it captures most of the items you should consider.
Is life aboard as romantic as I expect it to be?
Yes. And no. The good can be really good – and peaceful and romantic. The sunsets and surroundings can be like a slice of heaven. The gentle rocking (in a well-protected marina) can be magnificent. I love the rain on the water and on the sunny days sitting on my comfy beach chair on the dock drinking a beer, wine or drinks with my neighbors. I can change marinas whenever I want. And my friends love to come over.
However, life aboard can also mean mold and mildew, confined conditions, and constant repairs. If a neighbor is loud or disrespectful, you’ll know. Boats passing by can cause the gentle movement to become dangerous and a storm or heavy winds can damage or destroy your home. Boat maintenance cannot be understated and can take up lots of time. And you can’t escape the mess of the repairs. The life is glamorous and romantic and at times hard. To me, the hard is one of the things that makes it great. To others it is not.
Can anyone live aboard?
Yes, if you are of the right mind and as long as everyone else who lives with you really wants to live this lifestyle as well. A boat can be a very viable alternative to any land based residence although the differences can be dramatic. As written above, life aboard is not all glamour. They move. They’re close to neighbors. And they offer less space than land based residences. Everyone aboard should want to be there or life in these close quarters can become very difficult very quickly.
What is the first thing I should do if I want to live aboard?
It might seem a bit backward, but once you have a general idea what kind of boat you’d like to call home, it is usually better to research your marina options. In some markets, there are no available slips for liveaboards and in others space is not an issue. There are too many people that end up with boats and no place to put them. Some people will even pay for a slip when it becomes available while they continue to locate and buy their boat.
The second thing you should do, after you know where you can put your boat along with any possible limitations (such as boat size) is choose your boat and clearly develop an understanding of the costs. There is a video on this site that can offer some advice when it comes to choosing a boat, and the costs are discussed below.
Is it cheaper to live on a boat or on land?
Like everything else, it depends. The book has a cost table that is quite revealing (the corresponding spreadsheet is available off of the multimedia page), mostly because it reveals how, depending on your choices, economical and how expensive the lifestyle can be. There are hidden costs everywhere (the book explains many of them). One important question is how many amenities do you want or need, and how much work can you do yourself. Still, no matter how much work you do yourself, some things will be at the whim of those marinas/yards that will haul and launch your boat. I’ve included a free cost spreadsheet on the site, but there is a much greater/in depth explanation in the text.
Typical costs include your monthly boat payment, slip fees, extra/liveaboard fees, insurance and general expenses of life (cable, internet, telephone, etc.). Then there is routine and special boat maintenance and operating costs.
How big a boat do I need to live aboard?
Some people suggest that a liveaboard have a boat that is at least 33 feet in length (10 meters). And yet, one of the biggest complaints from liveaboards in large vessels is that the maintenance of their large boats is too much and that their boats are too big, and that a smaller boat would have been more desireable. My marina has two liveaboards that live happily in their tiny 26 foot sail boats (I can’t stand up straight in them). Many liveaboards with multiple heads and staterooms will actually shut down or even dismantle their second heads and unused staterooms to cut down on maintenance or use the space for storage. In general… make your own decisions, but most experts suggest that you consider the smallest boat that you’d be happy and comfortable in, particularly if money is an issue.