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creedence623 05-11-2010 09:53 AM

House or Boat?
I understand I am bringing this question to a slightly biased group, but I am hoping to gain from some other peoples' perspectives on a concern I have.

First let me provide the background for the question. My wife and I are in our late 20s, and we are fortunate enough to live on a solid income. I am grateful that we are even able to have the choice to live aboard or own a home. We are currently considering a move back to Hawaii or Florida and are thinking about living aboard in either location.

More background:
Most, if not all, of the people we know seem to be following "the plan." They all currently own, or have owned homes in the past, and an increasing number of them are now settling down and having kids. I'm not interested in any of that (especially the kids part of the equation), and my wife is similarly disinterested, but I am sick of throwing away money each month by renting.

Now for the question:
As I consider moving aboard (either our current boat, or a 2010 production boat we've been thinking about) I am beginning to wonder if we are being irresponsible. I can't shake the feeling that by living aboard we are somehow missing the train in terms of financial well-being down the line. I know boats are never a good investment (that's not really how I am viewing this), but when I look at the numbers I will be missing out on the equity that comes with a home in an "up" market, and missing out on the more traditional lifestyle (which may or may not be a bad thing-I really don't know). So to those who have wrestled with similar concerns prior to living aboard, would you recommend it based on a long term financial perspective, or do you think it makes more sense to do the so-called "responsible" thing and buy a home and enjoy the boat on the weekends? I know there is no one size fits all answer to this question as each person has different considerations in both finances and lifestyle, I'm just trying to see how those people who have been in my shoes before feel about their decision to forego the "American Dream" that's been force fed to us and live aboard.

As always, thanks for your input!

sailingdog 05-11-2010 10:22 AM

Just curious, any reason for posting this twice??

4arch 05-11-2010 10:31 AM

I saw in an article this morning that said, adjusted for inflation, housing prices have only risen 1% over the past 120 years. Obviously a statistic like that has to be taken with a grain of salt but I think it goes to reinforce the idea that home ownership isn’t the great investment some would like to have you believe. Those who bought in the 1970’s or 80’s and sold before the mid 2000’s meltdown might have made a huge windfall but it’s a big gamble with no guarantees. With home values having peaked in the mid 2000’s, we’re not likely to see any significant appreciation in the next 5-10 years and I wouldn’t be surprised if some markets still have double digit percentage price drops still to come in the next few years.

If you do buy a house, I’d only recommend buying something where you can put 20% cash down, where the mortgage payments will be below 33% of your take home pay, and where you plan on owning it for 30 YEARS until its TOTALLY PAID OFF. If you plan to sell in less than 10 years, as many people your age would, it’s a huge gamble and right now the odds to have any significant equity by that time let alone to make enough profit to afford an “upgrade” are not so good.

So it really doesn’t look “irresponsible” at all to sit out the housing market now or for the foreseeable future.

remetau 05-11-2010 10:50 AM

You and your wife are in your late 20’s with no plans for children. Who do you have to be responsible to? Take a chance and live life the way that you and your wife want to live it instead of focusing on what makes more financial sense.

There is no reason for somebody to not live their dream. You just need to decide on which dream to follow.

creedence623 05-11-2010 12:14 PM


Originally Posted by sailingdog (Post 602704)
Just curious, any reason for posting this twice??

It's my d@#% internet connection. The first time I tried posting, the page froze so I hit submit a couple more times only to see that they all ended up getting posted. I'm sorry about that.

I really appreciate all of the input. I think the source of my hesitation stems from the fact that I don't personally know any liveaboards at this point in my life, and it seems like I am really stepping out of the norm.

I can certainly see both sides of the financial argument; I was looking for a little reassurance that I'm not crazy, and you guys gave it to me. Thanks again!

Ulladh 05-11-2010 03:36 PM

In a normal market well maintained residential real estate is not a depreciating asset.
A new boat, well maintained or not will be a depreciating asset.
An older boat well maintained will probably over time not be much of a loss, excluding the cost of maintainance.

Go for it, if you find out later that it is not what you want, then sell the boat and try something else.

CaptainForce 05-11-2010 03:47 PM

I've never owned a house, having moved aboard almost forty years ago. My goals were never to consider my vessel as an investment, but it has given me a simple inexpensive joy and allowed me to retire early by freeing me from the many of the expenses and responsibilities that come with ownership of houses, cars and other traditional stuff. Despite what might be the "American Dream" don't overlook your ability to customize your own dream. 'take care and joy, Aythya crew

kd3pc 05-11-2010 04:08 PM


if you are near the northern neck, stop by and I will give you a tour of our little world. We do weeks at a time, working out the kinks, and hope to be full time when my son graduates college.

Our biggest challenge was what to do with all the "stuff", but since you are young, you will not have quite so much.

As CaptForce says, the boat really cuts down on the shoreside expenses. We use our bikes more, walk more, get out is almost a 1/4 mile to the bathhouse and back to the boat...

We enjoy the weather noise, the wildlife - although we often startle them and they us, the water action.

Down side is cold rainy days in may can still be raw...but then you know you are alive.

We almost took the plunge in 1984, dern real estate agent found a house we could afford, and often wish we had.

All the best

tomwatt 05-11-2010 05:53 PM

A nice read you might find helpful (or your wife might find helpful) is "All in the Same Boat"... long-term liveaboards who succesfully raised a family onboard.

LauderBoy 05-12-2010 09:14 AM

> I saw in an article this morning that said, adjusted for inflation, housing prices have only risen 1% over the past 120 years.

Pretty much. Then throw in home association fees, water heater replacement, new roof, yard upkeep(and all the tools needed for that), insurance, etc etc.

Everyone needs a place to live. If you want to live in a house and stay in one place, a house isn't at all a bad place to put your money. But just buying one as an investment or as part of some financial "responsibility" isn't a great idea.

Have some people made good money on their home? Sure, but people who bought Apple stock in the late 90's probably did even better.

I'd say, move aboard your current boat and just sink part of your income into a long term diversified investment plan. If you don't like the boat life you can always move back onto land and do the house thing.

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