cost of living on a boatReal estate prices are skyrocketing, and it seems like there’s nothing slowing them down. It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to buy a home; even rent one. This is why more people are looking for different living arrangements. Some choose to live in cars and vans, while others, given that they have the option to, choose to live on boats. But, what is the real cost of living on a boat.

The real answer might actually shock you. This is because the cost of living on a boat is far greater than most people think. This article explores the truth behind this alternative living arrangement from both angles. Read on to learn about its pros and cons, and why it may or may not be the right one for you. 

Money Matters

The primary reason for people to consider living on a boat is housing costs. In the US alone, rent in major cities can cost as much as over $2,000 a month. And with median wages not seeing significant bumps, people are struggling to find homes–even rooms–to rent. 

As such, it’s natural to assume that living anywhere else is the cheaper option. Living in a car or a modified camper van is technically the cheapest possible choice. All you need to pay for is gas and possibly a parking lot to stay on. Or if you have a place where you can park your vehicle for free, all the better. As for boats, they can be had for as much as six figures even for a used vessel. But the fees don’t stop there. 

Here’s a quick example. You can buy a used boat for around $150,000 or more, as long as it’s a seaworthy vessel. Aside from the initial asking price, you will also need to pay a mortgage for the boat itself, which can cost upwards of $800 a month for this price range at the minimum. 

On the lower end, marina fees can reach around $1000 a month. Couple that with a roughly $250 “liveaboard” fee (which would give you legal rights to actually live in a boat in a marina) and it could drive total monthly costs to as much as what you’d pay if you just rented an apartment. This is one of the things that not a lot of people know. Compare that to renting an apartment in the big city, and you can see the appeal it has. 

What About Maintenance And Utilities? 

Of course, you cannot live on a boat without worrying about utilities and vessel maintenance. Here’s what you should always consider, especially when looking for a marina to moor your boat in. Related: Basic Boat Maintenance Tips Every Owner Should Know

  • Cleaning: Having a regular cleaning schedule for the boat’s interior and exterior is a no-brainer. Always be sure to scrub down your boat’s topsides and keep your living quarters spotless. It’s also important to clean off the scum and barnacles that would build up on the underside of the hull. If you want to maintain the excellent condition of your vessel, constant upkeep is your best tool. Related: Boat Cleaning Hacks: Tips & Tricks for a Spotless Boat
  • Polishing: It’s also important to polish handrails, trim, coamings, and other surfaces to maintain the boat’s looks. 
  • Waxing: Remember that the part of your hull sitting above the water will oxidize over time, which would dull the appearance of your boat. Consider waxing the surface at least once or twice each year. 
  • Windows: Most people don’t know this, but the cost of living on a boat also involves window and windshield glass maintenance. Marine glass might tend to be tougher than automobile glass, but they would need repair or replacement to keep them prepared for the elements. 
  • Cable and phone: Some marinas offer TV, phone and internet connections for liveaboards. So when looking for a marina, try to see if they offer these amenities. Of course, you will need to pay at least a monthly fee. 
  • Electricity: A lot of marinas provide power pedestals where you can hook your boat up for electricity. The thing is, you may need to buy a special adapter to use the pedestal. Also remember that adapter requirements may change across different marinas.
  • Water: Water faucets are standard so you don’t have to worry much. 
  • Garbage: Some marinas may choose to charge a fee to collect garbage. You can find some which don’t, but that also means you’ll need to take the trash out yourself. 
  • Sewage: Nobody wants to stink. Marinas often require you to store waste in an onboard holding tank, where you could have sewage removal services clean it. Expect to pay a small fee for pumping services which would take your waste to a legal disposal point.

So is living on a boat for you? The answer is a very cliched “it depends.” What’s important is that you do a lot of research when you start considering this option, so you won’t have too many problems on your plate.

Related: Best Boating Apps Every Boater Can Swear By