Living Aboard a Boat: Pros and Cons
Of course you’ve thought about living aboard your boat. Who hasn’t? Where do you feel most relaxed? Where do your kids forget to check their cell phone every five minutes? Where else do small, simple meals taste so wonderful? Right…it’s out on your boat.
But living aboard may not be for everyone. For one thing, you need to have the right vessel, with enough room and comforts to make your decision to abandon terra firma a positive one. That said, here are some things you should consider before walking the plank, so to speak.
• You have to find the right boat for sleeping onboard. Smaller is cheaper, but once you’ve lived aboard a month or two, you may find it’s not much of a value. Sure, you’ve got a great view for your morning coffee, but if your living quarters are too tight, or the restroom facilities have your wife unnerved, you may not have given it the proper consideration. It’s a big lifestyle change to live on a boat. Spend the time to evaluate all your options. And don’t forget the most important thing. Talk to folks at your marina or boat club that already live aboard. Not only do they know the pitfalls and rewards, but they are always willing to share their story.
• Understand the true costs. Living aboard can be an amazing lifestyle for the right folks. It can be much less expensive to live on your boat compared to a house, so it’s an attractive option for certain demographics like retirees, constant business travelers or folks who can “work anywhere.” But make sure you conservatively estimate your maintenance, applicable taxes, marina fees, eating out more often, insurance, depreciation, and other costs. Taking an honest assessment of your live aboard situation can mean the difference between a committed, enjoyable life on your boat and a short-lived fantasy.
• Be willing to scale down. This is a big one for some people. Let’s say you’ve lived, worked and raised a family in a traditional single-family house for 30 or 40 years. You can accumulate a lot of “stuff” over that time. Unless you’re wanting to take on the burden of putting many of your worldly possessions in storage, you’re going to have to face the truth that you need to downsize significantly. Work with the 10-percent rule here. If your house is 3,000 square feet, plan on scaling down to 300 feet on your boat. It’s tough, but it can be done. Just be realistic while you’re planning.
Living aboard can be one an incredibly rewarding lifestyle. You will not find better neighbors, you will not have a better night’s sleep anywhere, and if you get tired of the view, you can always hoist your anchor and move along to the next port. Remember it’s a lifestyle that requires some thought and planning to make it work. But when it works, you’ll wonder how all those land-lubbers live on dirt.