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Jul 27, 2016

I get asked all the time how practical is it to live aboard a boat.

Can anyone live aboard your boat?

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.

Is it cheaper to live on a boat or on land?

Like everything else, it depends. There are hidden costs everywhere and luckily there are multiple resources available online to assist you but 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.

Typical costs include your monthly boat payment, slip fees, extra/live aboard fees, insurance and general expenses of life (cable, internet, telephone, etc.). Then there is routine and special boat maintenance and operating costs

Generally, 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.

How big a boat do I need to live aboard?

Some people suggest that a live aboard 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 desirable. I know of a marina that 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.

So can living aboard save you money versus an apartment or home purchase?


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.

Thanks to Mark Nicholas for the inspiration. Check out his site at