Many people dream of someday enjoying their sun filled days living aboard a sailboat. It’s true the live aboard life can be a wonderful experience allowing you to travel in a moments notice without every leaving home, while taking in beautiful sunrises and sunsets and enjoying the calming sound of the waves. What some people don’t think about are the challenges of limited space, downsizing, financial obligations including the boat, maintenance costs and docking expenses and getting along in a confined space. That being said there are also some surprising perks to living aboard a sailboat that have probably not occurred to you either. For example your boat insurance and taxes may be less than you would pay for home on land.
What you want to avoid is working hard to reach your dream of living aboard a sailboat only to find yourself miserable and eager to get your feet back on solid ground. It’s not uncommon for new sailors to be running for the shore after only living a few months of their dream life on a sailboat. If you have sold your home and gone through extensive planning to be able to live on your sailboat this can be a huge disappointment. The best thing you can do is to prepare yourself by being fully aware of the benefits and drawbacks of life on a live aboard sailboat before you set sail.
Living on any boat means being able to downsize or place a significant amount of your belongings into storage. You will need to adjust to living with less and make the effort to organize the belongings that you have so that you can find them easily. Sailboats generally have less space in their living quarters compared to yachts making living simply and being well organized even more important.
Expenses are another area that demand careful consideration typically when you purchase a yacht financing will allow you to pay for it over a maximum of twenty years vs. thirty years for a home. If you are trying to stretch out your payments this could make your month-to-month living expenses higher than a home that’s the same price. On the other hand boat insurance rates are often lower than home insurance and it’s likely that the property tax will be lower as well. Of course you should plan for maintenance expenses and depending on the age of your boat they could vary significantly. Older boats may cost less to purchase but their maintenance costs can be significantly higher than a new boat.
You will also want to think about where you will be staying. Sure the life of a sailor allows you to travel at the drop of a hat but you will also need someplace to stay at night. Where will your “home” marina be? You may need to get on the waiting list for a slip to dock your boat long before you even purchase your vessel. Take your time shopping out different marinas and pay attention to the different amenities available as well as the atmosphere, for example are the nights quiet or are people about at all hours?
If you will be living with someone close quarters can be a blessing and a challenge. A sail powered boat also presents additional challenges compared to a powered craft, including managing the sails, which takes teamwork and knowledge. However, the rewards can be proportionally greater, given the sense of achievement you feel as you become more proficient.
Of course there’s no way to know for sure if living aboard a sailboat is the life for you until you try it but proper planning, research and lots of sailing experience will help you make an educated decision. If you make sure that you have enough space for comfortable living on your boat and pay particular attention to financial considerations, such as marina and maintenance costs, storage and boat insurance rates you will be off to a great start. It’s also always a good idea to chat with friends or acquaintances that know what it is like to live aboard and can give you some pointers.