New or Used Boats: How to Decide Which Type of Boat To Buy

buying a new or used boat

Buy new a boat, or buy a used boat? That’s a tough call for a boat buyer, especially a first-timer. There’s no right or wrong answer. It all depends on you: your tastes, your budget, and your mechanical aptitude. What makes your smile wider? A mint condition new prize or a bargain cleverly bought and burnished? Some say the sweet spot is a preowned boat that is a couple of years old, bought from a dealer you trust, but you decide. Here's some factors to or pre-owned boats

Benefits Buying a New Boat

  • Who doesn’t like a shiny, new toy? No need to wonder how the boat’s been used or misused, or if it’s been adequately winterized and commissioned. There is no history to uncover, because you’ll write this boat’s on-water biography.
  • You can buy exactly what you want and not just what’s on the preowned market. You’ll be getting the latest, greatest technology and innovations.
  • If something does go awry, you’ll have a manufacturer’s warranty to back you up. That warranty is served by the selling dealer, which is a good reason to buy nearby.
  • You can rig it the way you want with the latest gear selected precisely for your purpose. Unless you buy a boat-and-motor combo with the lowest-offered powerplant, it’s probably a satisfying match.
  • You don’t have to get an answer to the most troubling question: Why is this used boat for sale?

Benefits Buying a Pre-Owned Boat

  • With a used boat, you get more boat for fewer dollars, lower cost per year of ownership, and less on the line if you decide a different style or size boat would better serve you.
  • It sounds funny, but there’s peace of mind in knowing you’re not going to put the first scratch or ding in the boat.
  • Any initial bugs in boat or motor have likely surfaced and been dealt with. For reassurance, and before signing, get a marine survey. Marine surveyors see what you can’t and look where you won’t. First, get a survey. Then smile and buy, whittle down the price, draft your own to-do list, or walk away.
  • You get time-tested technologies. If a manufacturer brought out a bad boat or balky motor, the Internet and other sources will wave you off.
  • You can choose a style of sale—from the trade-in or used stock of a dealer, who has to cover overhead but has a reputation to guard and a service bay; from a broker, who has reduced overhead costs; or from a private seller, who may be most motivated.

How to Buy a Pre-Owned Boat from a Private Seller

buying a used boat


Costs to Expect as a New or Used Boat Owner

Whether you decide to purchase a new or used boat, the cost of owning a boat isn’t nearly as extreme as many people think. Thanks to the boat financing options available today, even including the initial purchase the average cost of a boat isn’t out of reach for most middle-class Americans. There are, however, many factors to take into account and they can vary wildly depending on the size and type of boat you own. That’s why it’s nearly impossible to create an accurate “cost of owning a boat” calculator. If you want to get a solid idea of just what the true cost of owning a boat will be, you’ll need to consider all of the following.

Upfront Costs & Considerations

First, let’s take a look at all the items you’ll need to purchase up front. Once you’ve explored the different types of boats that are out there and determined the proper size and style for you and your family (our Boat Finder will help with this), the cost of the boat itself is the initial consideration.

Purchase of the Boat

Some people are in the position to buy their boat outright. This is a great way to go if it’s an option, since you won’t end up paying interest or any sort of loan service fees. Of course, most of us will need to finance the purchase.

Remember, you can drastically reduce upfront cost by buying a used boat; however, don't forget that with older boats maintenance and repair costs can rise. Plus, you won’t have a warranty backing you up.

Monthly Payments

When you purchase a boat via financing, you need to account for the monthly payments. These can range quite a bit depending on the price of the boat, how much you have for the down payment, interest rates, and other variables. Our Boat Loan Calculator will help you get a fix on just how a sticker price translates into monthly payments.

Calculate Your Estimated Monthly Payment


In many cases, especially with small boats, the trailer will add to the boats’ purchase price. In the long run, however, purchasing a trailer can actually save you money. If you can park your boat at home you can avoid other costs like boat storage and marina fees. And often with smaller boats, trailers will be included in a boat-motor-trailer “package” price. But forget about money for just one second, because with a trailer you can head off to new ports and experience different adventures on various waterways as you please—an ability that many people would consider priceless.

Boat Delivery

Depending on where and when you buy it, the cost of moving a boat is one you may need to consider. Delivery will often be included in the boat’s price tag when you buy new from a dealer’s lot. But if you order a new boat to your specifications or purchase one that’s at a distant location, be sure to include the cost of moving it in your calculations.

owning a used boat


Annual Costs

Regardless of whether you're bringing home a brand new boat straight from the manufacturer, or you're proud to care for your newly purchased preowned model, there are some costs you can expect to incur overtime. With your new boats’ upfront costs paid for, you'll want to think about the annual costs of owning a boat and do some long-range planning, including:

Learn More About the Costs of Boat Ownership


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