Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Annapolis, Md
Thanked 190 Times in 155 Posts
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I have lived aboard at a number of different points in my life. To begin with it should be made clear that living aboard and voyaging under sail can be very different from each other and can mean different things to different people, just as the term nice sailboat varies from person to person.
The costs to live aboard can vary quite widely depending on what you consider to be a "nice sailboat", where you live and work, and how comfortable you need to be onboard.
In a broad and very general way, probably the least expensive boat that someone can live on in any kind of comfort will be something over a range of $10-15K. In that range you can find older 30-32 footers with reasonable headroom, a decent galley that will have enough room for the bare essentials in life. You will still spend a faor amount of time and money adapting that kind of boat to be a liveaboard.
I lived aboard a $400- 25 Folkboat wooden folkboat. I was 23 years oldand adventurous but even then I did not consider it comfortable.
More likely, if you are going to find a good quality boat with enough accomodations and equipment to live aboard with some degree of comfort and without having to substantially modifying the boat, you are probably going to spend something over $50,000 and even at that you will be making some sacrifices and compromises.
There are a lot of really good liveaboard in the $75,000 to $120,000 range and today it is not hard to spend a a couple hundred thousand on up for a reasonably late model live-aboard.
I have generally found that I spend 10%-15% of the cost of a boat for general maintenance, upgrades and long term expenses such as sail or instrument replacement. Dockage can vary from my usual free slips to $35-60 per foot per year. Loans are a bargain right now with rates down around 6-7% depending on your credit history, amount down and the amount being borrowed.
The cost of living aboard is also variable. There can be a lot of semi-hidden costs. For example, if you work in an office you need to get clothes professionally cleaned as there is no room to iron and store pressed clothes. Or you can''t buy supplies in bulk because storage is limited. Stove fuel costs more than a shore stove. You sometimes are metered and end up paying more per kilowatt but then again you don''t use as much kilowatts as a house.
Then there are semi-intangibles. You typically end up sailing less than owning a small boat and a small house. Houses appreciate, boats at best hold their value.
That''s it for now, goota go