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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am new to this forum.

:captain:

My soon to be husband and I are wanting to purchase a boat to live aboard.

I am more new to this than he is -- I have never spent a day on a boat, but we have his mother and step father to guide us as they live aboard one. He has spent lots of time aboard hers.

We have not even tried to secure financing on a boat, know what exact boat we want yet, etc. because we are in our initial stages of research.

We live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but wouldn't mind new friends from further away to tell us their, "been there, done that" stories so we can make sure decisions as we search out marinas, a more than likely used boat which and from where, how to do the financing properly, how to move the boat from one marina to another, insurance, etc.

:cut_out_animated_em

I'm hoping somebody with experience can help guide us.
 

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Welcome aboard. You are not the first nor will you be the last to want to live aboard a sailboat. Having said that there are so many paths and possibilities and only you two can decide once you begin to understand the possibilities and the hurdles you must pass. And there are many hurdles and many ways to "live aboard."

Begin by reading... this forum and the many books out there... plus now there are a bunch of YouTubes done by couples who have done what you are thinking about. No two paths will be the same despite they all having to pass through similar decisions and learning curves. Ask intelligent questions right here... if you can't find the answers by reading and watching/
The members here are knowledgeable and generous with their time and most are more than willing to help. However no one can help without more information about your situation and goal.

Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Which books do you recommend?

Current hurdles: searching for live aboard marinas in Dallas-Fort Worth.

-His- job has him tied to Farmer's Branch, whereas I could go wherever, whenever -- as I am working towards becoming an accountant with my own business.

What appeals me is it is much cheaper than most current housing prices ($200,000+ for a 'starter home', even used in my area), as well as I genuinely have a love for the beach and water. While, granted, we are kind of tied up here due to his work, perhaps he will find employment where we are not so far north in Texas and more south on the coast (so with this, we will have to look for larger boats as some have length minimums of 40-45 I have seen). We also would live with a lot less clutter of a normal home since it's a micro-home, and I think it would make us spend extremely wisely through life on what we actually have as needs vs. wants.

I have the understanding repairs are very costly, and I'm the handy one between he and I, so I really want to understand what wear and tear I need to look out for when purchasing a used boat, what I might be able to do whereas what a professional would have to do, etc so we do not get too in over our heads if we find a dream boat but are not wise enough to see the imperfections and problems.

I'm going to ask an incredibly stupid question but what is covered under comprehensive boat insurance plans? Is it as if the boat is a car or is it as if the boat is a house? What would the insurance cover if we had a high-end insurance? (Since I'm sure it would cost more for better coverage).
 

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I am in a similar position. I have been researching for the past five to seven years as I have prepared for semi-retirement and creating the time to get aboard.

I read for years: Maiden Voyage; Maiden Trip; Blue Water, Green Skipper; Fastnet: Force 10; Sailing Alone Around the World. Three years ago, I took my wife on a cruise and learn sailing course / charter from Vancouver British Columbia and earned my Canadian Yachting Association Bareboat Skippers Certificate. I've chartered twice, including a week in the Florida Keys.

I have spent hours and hours reading used boat reviews, particularly by the late boat surveyor and marine architect, Bob Hornor. I made a list of top 10 preferred boat choices, my dreamboat list. I watched hours and hours of sailing instructional videos on Amazon Prime and rules of the road for boating navigation and right-of-way. I watched hours and hours of various peoples sailing vlogs.

I am hoping to purchase soon and begin living aboard all or part of the year.

That is some of the process I have gone through in the last few years, too feel more ready and able. Good luck with your search and adventure, and maybe we will meet up somewhere soon, in a distant anchorage for drinks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
I am in a similar position. I have been researching for the past five to seven years as I have prepared for semi-retirement and creating the time to get aboard.

I read for years: Maiden Voyage; Maiden Trip; Blue Water, Green Skipper; Fastnet: Force 10; Sailing Alone Around the World. Three years ago, I took my wife on a cruise and learn sailing course / charter from Vancouver British Columbia and earned my Canadian Yachting Association Bareboat Skippers Certificate. I've chartered twice, including a week in the Florida Keys.

I have spent hours and hours reading used boat reviews, particularly by the late boat surveyor and marine architect, Bob Hornor. I made a list of top 10 preferred boat choices, my dreamboat list. I watched hours and hours of sailing instructional videos on Amazon Prime and rules of the road for boating navigation and right-of-way. I watched hours and hours of various peoples sailing vlogs.

I am hoping to purchase soon and begin living aboard all or part of the year.

That is some of the process I have gone through in the last few years, too feel more ready and able. Good luck with your search and adventure, and maybe we will meet up somewhere soon, in a distant anchorage for drinks.
Thanks for the boat recommendations! It looks like I have some watching to do on Amazon Prime, YouTube, and Vlogs. Do you have a recommended series of people or do you just take a little bit from everybody's input?

We also plan on living all of the year, unless of course in times of necessity (major boat technical difficulties or weather).
 

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Olive,
You seem to be in a place to recalibrate aspects of your lives. One thing to very seriously consider is a source of income...work... which you can do aboard... using the internet. But there are other options. I know of a couple who made Pizzas on board and had a roaring business! But that was down in the islands.

Living aboard is less expensive than on dirt... but you hare very much paired down... like an RV or a tiny home. Living in a marina is expensive and convenient if you still work ashore... where the jobs are. You could even work for the marina or in the boat yard.

If you are off the grid and cruising... that's a whole other ball of wax. Which one is it? Or are you going to do both?

As far as reading... I would use Reese... Sailing Illustrated - The Sailor's Bible. It's a fabulous reference book about all things sailing. Most vids are about cutting the lines and sailing off as opposed to just living aboard in a marina.

Marina recreational insurance has 2 components... Comprehensive and Liability. The later cover you for your negligence and damage to others... the former covers your boat and may include your personal property. You select the coverage, the deductible and the limits.
 

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There are some great sailing instructional videos available and included with Amazon Prime. Just search "sailing instruction". There is one called "Rules of the Road" that covers all of the rules of right away at sea and navigational AIDS. There is a wonderful introductory video called "Sailing with Penny......". She is an Australian sailing instructor. I believe that the video series is called "Sailing with Confidence". I will copy down some of the exact titles I found helpful, when I get on my Amazon account later.

I found it helpful to purchase the American Sailing Association course study books for the beginning ASA sailing courses. Whether you actually take any of the courses or not, the first couple of introductory course guides have a lot of basics, on the parts of a sailboat, the theory of sailing, nautical terms, and navigation. They will be good references to have.
 

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There are a lot of factors to consider.

While living on a boat is generally much cheaper than living on land, living on the boat will seriously limit where you can live and what jobs you can have.

Even in areas that have a lot of coastline and dockage, not all marinas will allow liveaboards and most will significantly limit liveaboards to a certain percentage of their slips.

If you live someplace where you anchor out instead of at a marina, your costs will be lower (no slip rental!) but your logistical complications will increase massively as you will not have power to plug into, and will have to figure out what type of dinghy will bring you to shore and back to your boat/home and how much time that will add to your daily travels.

Doing laundry will be a major production.

So if you envision yourself living in a marina with a power hookup, you should start by considering what areas have the kind of marinas you would want to stay in but also have some of the type of jobs you would want, and then research the marinas in that area to see what the slip fees are and whether liveaboard slips are available and how much extra they charge for that. It's probably easier to find the area that meets those criteria before finding the boat in that area. Finding the right boat is probably the easiest part if you find the right coastal area to live in.
 

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Thanks for the boat recommendations! .......

We also plan on living all of the year, unless of course in times of necessity (major boat technical difficulties or weather).
Yes, you need some in-land family or friends who will be willing to take you in when a hurricane comes near the Texas coast, as they have, from time to time.

For video-blogs or vlogs, I like "Sailing Zatara". They have a lot more money to do it well, than I will ever have. But they sold their house, bought a mono-hull, home schooled the kids on board and traveled. Then they upgraded to a larger catamaran. Our income levels are such that I have to laugh when they talk about ways they have to economize, as they are installing a washer and dryer, water maker, scuba tank compressor, and dedicated silent generators to power all of their appliances.

For a look at the other end of the spectrum, check out a small privately produced film, "Hold Fast" on Youtube. It is not intended as an example of how to go to sea, but it is an interesting look at one group's experience.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Olive,
You seem to be in a place to recalibrate aspects of your lives. One thing to very seriously consider is a source of income...work... which you can do aboard... using the internet. But there are other options. I know of a couple who made Pizzas on board and had a roaring business! But that was down in the islands.



If you are off the grid and cruising... that's a whole other ball of wax. Which one is it? Or are you going to do both?

As far as reading... I would use Reese... Sailing Illustrated - The Sailor's Bible. It's a fabulous reference book about all things sailing. Most vids are about cutting the lines and sailing off as opposed to just living aboard in a marina.
I am the very ambitious one that gets the zing of excitement at such an idea like the sailboat pizzeria. He works in a call center, so unless they bring that to telecommuting, he will always need shore hope to be self employed so wherever his employment takes him, we could go.
Currently, we live five hours north from the Texas gulf coast. We want to be able to purchase a boat, that should his employment bring him to the coast, we would not have to sell it and buy another to meet requirements so that's why when I started to read coastal marina requirements of 40-45', I am hypothesizing that would be the length to purchase.
We did think about purchasing a smaller, 35'-40' sailboat, but I am thinking the minimum requirement may be 40' to purchase for the future.
As for if it will be a sailboat, a trawler, a houseboat, etc. we are not sure. I am trying to learn as much as I can about them, because usually big decisions are left to me – and I hustle to understand things extremely in depth – especially with a life decision like this.
So, to answer your question – currently only in a lake, until his employment possibly brings us to the coast.
P.S. I can't wait to get my hands onto that book.

There are some great sailing instructional videos available and included with Amazon Prime. Just search "sailing instruction". There is one called "Rules of the Road" that covers all of the rules of right away at sea and navigational AIDS. There is a wonderful introductory video called "Sailing with Penny......". She is an Australian sailing instructor. I believe that the video series is called "Sailing with Confidence". I will copy down some of the exact titles I found helpful, when I get on my Amazon account later.

I found it helpful to purchase the American Sailing Association course study books for the beginning ASA sailing courses. Whether you actually take any of the courses or not, the first couple of introductory course guides have a lot of basics, on the parts of a sailboat, the theory of sailing, nautical terms, and navigation. They will be good references to have.
Great! Thanks! I didn't even know there were courses I could take. This will help me build confidence and meet others who sail.
There are a lot of factors to consider.

While living on a boat is generally much cheaper than living on land, living on the boat will seriously limit where you can live and what jobs you can have.

Even in areas that have a lot of coastline and dockage, not all marinas will allow liveaboards and most will significantly limit liveaboards to a certain percentage of their slips.

If you live someplace where you anchor out instead of at a marina, your costs will be lower (no slip rental!) but your logistical complications will increase massively as you will not have power to plug into, and will have to figure out what type of dinghy will bring you to shore and back to your boat/home and how much time that will add to your daily travels.

Doing laundry will be a major production.

So if you envision yourself living in a marina with a power hookup, you should start by considering what areas have the kind of marinas you would want to stay in but also have some of the type of jobs you would want, and then research the marinas in that area to see what the slip fees are and whether liveaboard slips are available and how much extra they charge for that. It's probably easier to find the area that meets those criteria before finding the boat in that area. Finding the right boat is probably the easiest part if you find the right coastal area to live in.
This is very true. He doesn't want to leave his call center work, and I am going to be an accountant (currently in school for this). I have been telling him to look future forward, what his next employment could possibly look like or what he wants, but he is entirely content with his call center work.

Finding a slip that even allows liveaboards is incredibly difficult so far. It appears many bodies of water do not allow more than five days at a time, and they are special permits in some areas to prevent the folks going from boat to land two days of the week.

So, at dock we would have a plug in as I understand it, but would we also need an alternative power source running on board (the generator ran by gasoline? Again, I'm totally new with this and trying to get a grasp of things) as well, or would the marina that has a plug in entirely power the boat while at dock?

As for purchasing the boat, once we know which marina may allow live aboards, does anybody have experience here 'shipping' a liveaboard boat and how much it cost back when they did (and how far the boat traveled)?

We see a lot we like, but they're in Florida. We thought about sailing those to the coast of Texas and then shipping it upward if it would save money, but we aren't sure. Again, planning stages.

Yes, you need some in-land family or friends who will be willing to take you in when a hurricane comes near the Texas coast, as they have, from time to time.

For video-blogs or vlogs, I like "Sailing Zatara". They have a lot more money to do it well, than I will ever have. But they sold their house, bought a mono-hull, home schooled the kids on board and traveled. Then they upgraded to a larger catamaran. Our income levels are such that I have to laugh when they talk about ways they have to economize, as they are installing a washer and dryer, water maker, scuba tank compressor, and dedicated silent generators to power all of their appliances.

For a look at the other end of the spectrum, check out a small privately produced film, "Hold Fast" on Youtube. It is not intended as an example of how to go to sea, but it is an interesting look at one group's experience.
Aha, at least I would be able to see how the rich and the realistic do it with these two sets of videos. The boat is meant to be our primary and only residence, so maybe someday we can upgrade to such a lavish sounding boat they have. Just maybe, lol, with the push of a winning lottery ticket. I guess I'll be on the Hold Fast spectrum. :)





You guys have been so helpful getting me started on this research.

Thank you.
 

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Great! Thanks! I didn't even know there were courses I could take. This will help me build confidence and meet others who sail.


I guess I'll be on the Hold Fast spectrum. :)

Thank you.
Yes, there are courses.
And no, you won't be on the Hold Fast Spectrum. They were vagabond hippies who sailed a boat to the Caribbean with no motor. I would have considered it when I was in my 20's. There are many levels between those, on the spectrum. In the middle range there is Sailing Delos, and Sailing La Vagabond. But make sure you watch Sailing La Vagabond from their first episodes, when they were just an offshore oil rig worker and a restaurant waitress, sailing a used Beneteau, before they became one of the most successful Lifestyle Icon couples, and a company gave them a big boat and they hired an on-board videographer. Then there is MJSailing. Matt and Jessica show more about life in a marina as they spent 2 1/2 years living on a boat on the stands in a work yard, while they gutted and rebuilt it. You might find MJ Sailing particularly interesting. They sold everything, bought a boat and sailed to Spain. Then they sailed back to sell their boat and buy a new one in Indian Town Florida. They spent the next 2 1/2 years living on a gutted shell of a boat as their only home, while they rebuilt it. Their videos show how they lived on the boat, in a marina, with an extension cord for lights and music, rebuilding by day. They are good about answering questions of how they pulled it all off.

Courses can be found on the American Sailing Association website: ASA.com

They list four in your area:
Grapevine www.islandboundadventures.com
Grand Prairie ASA Sailing School, Bay Area Sailing School Welcome
Dallas www.saildallas.com
Heath North Texas Sailing School

You can buy the ASA 101 book, the beginner book, "Sailing Made Easy" and start reading to prepare for a class. There are on-line classes that are great in the winter for learning terms, parts and theory. But this is a perfect time to take an ASA hands on sailing course at one of the sailing centers at a lake near you. The ASA 101 course is often taught over a weekend or two. There is some land based classroom time and then they get you on boats and take you sailing.

You can choose to take it as a couple, and some centers have female instructors and feature women only classes. Some schools have boats to rent and the classes qualify you to rent the class of boat according to your training level. Some schools are part of sailing clubs and, after paying a membership fee, you are entitled to reserve a club boat.

Have fun!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Yes, there are courses.
Courses can be found on the American Sailing Association website: ASA.com

They list four in your area:
Grapevine www.islandboundadventures.com
Grand Prairie ASA Sailing School, Bay Area Sailing School Welcome
Dallas www.saildallas.com
Heath North Texas Sailing School

You can buy the ASA 101 book, the beginner book, "Sailing Made Easy" and start reading to prepare for a class. There are on-line classes that are great in the winter for learning terms, parts and theory. But this is a perfect time to take an ASA hands on sailing course at one of the sailing centers at a lake near you. The ASA 101 course is often taught over a weekend or two. There is some land based classroom time and then they get you on boats and take you sailing.

You can choose to take it as a couple, and some centers have female instructors and feature women only classes. Some schools have boats to rent and the classes qualify you to rent the class of boat according to your training level. Some schools are part of sailing clubs and, after paying a membership fee, you are entitled to reserve a club boat.

Have fun!
Thank you! How thrilling and exciting! I didn't think (and thus forth didn't research any) that there would be any classes due to liability in today's day and age.

:captain:

I really hope to make great friendships there and learn all that I possibly can.

You're the best!
 

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Thank you! How thrilling and exciting! I didn't think (and thus forth didn't research any) that there would be any classes due to liability in today's day and age.

:captain:

I really hope to make great friendships there and learn all that I possibly can.

You're the best!
Well, you are right about our litigious society, but sailing is alive and well in the US. It is true that there are no longer any places where you can rent a horse and go galloping across the grasslands or beaches (You can in Costa Rica). Sailing centers will have you sign the standard liability waiver to cover them, in case you can't follow instructions to keep your head down and watch the boom during a gybe maneuver. Even skydiving centers have gone to having prospective skydiving students make a liability waiver video in which they have to say, on video, "To my mom and dad and any heirs. I am about to go skydiving and instruct my heirs that they are not to sue the skydiving center or instructor if I die, because I understand the risks and I am choosing to do this".

But sailing at a local ASA sailing school, on a lake near you, is very safe. The dangerous parts don't come until we are left on our own and have the chance to make our own bad decisions.
 

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You might look at the "Sailing Nervous" series on Youtube. They have been living through pretty much what you are proposing except that Amy figured out how to do her job remotely. You can see the steps that have gone through as they started from nowhere and are now living on the boat almost full time. To me they represent a more normal pattern of how non-sailors end up on the water. They have also been honest about their missteps on the videos so it helps others learn what to do and what not to do.

Jeff
(As a fair disclosure, I have been a technical adviser to Vince and Amy as they have gone through their adventures.)
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Even skydiving centers have gone to having prospective skydiving students make a liability waiver video in which they have to say, on video, "To my mom and dad and any heirs. I am about to go skydiving and instruct my heirs that they are not to sue the skydiving center or instructor if I die, because I understand the risks and I am choosing to do this".

But sailing at a local ASA sailing school, on a lake near you, is very safe. The dangerous parts don't come until we are left on our own and have the chance to make our own bad decisions.
I had no idea about the skydiving disclaimer, lol. I just figured instead of dying or injuries, it would be damages with sailboats being handed over to total rookies.

You might look at the "Sailing Nervous" series on Youtube. They have been living through pretty much what you are proposing except that Amy figured out how to do her job remotely. You can see the steps that have gone through as they started from nowhere and are now living on the boat almost full time. To me they represent a more normal pattern of how non-sailors end up on the water. They have also been honest about their missteps on the videos so it helps others learn what to do and what not to do.

Jeff
(As a fair disclosure, I have been a technical adviser to Vince and Amy as they have gone through their adventures.)
That sounds lovely. Thank you Jeff. I will have to watch the videos. Did they live close to you for assistance from you or have you always been their distance tutor?

Also, I found a website that I totally was excited by stumbling on somewhere on this forum which is this: http://www.pcmarinesurveys.com/Marine Survey 101.htm


Again, you guys have been a great help and great in direction on where-to next!


:captain:


If there's ever anything else you or anyone wants to add on top of what's already been said -- totally be my guest! I can use everything and anything!
 

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This is probably heresy on this site, but have you considered a trawler yacht instead of a sailboat? If your primary goal is an inexpensive floating home, a power boat will most likely give you a lot more square footage of living space per foot of length. If you don't have any sailing experience, and know that you like to sail, then something like a trawler might be a better option.

Another really important question to ask yourself, is how comfortable you will be maintaining the vessel yourself. I have seen no small number of live aboard boats that were in extremely poor condition because the owners either didn't know how to maintain the boat or could not afford to do so. Paying someone else to maintain your boat for you gets very expensive very quickly if you can't do it yourself. It is wise to develop a generous annual maintenance budget as part of your planning process, and be realistic about how much of the work you are skilled enough to do yourself. If you don't maintain your vessel in seaworthy condition you can lose your live aboard status in some marinas.

One other aspect of life aboard that is important to consider is the use of bathroom facilities. Do you plan to shower aboard or use facilities ashore? Does the boat have a large enough holding tank for your needs, or are you going to be taking a long walk every time you need to use the bathroom? What kind of access will you have to pump out facilities? Is there a reasonably priced mobile pump out service available in the area or will you have to take the boat to a pump out station on a regular basis?
 

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Which books do you recommend?

...What appeals me is it is much cheaper than most current housing prices ($200,000+ for a 'starter home', even used in my area), as well as I genuinely have a love for the beach and water. While, granted, we are kind of tied up here due to his work, perhaps he will find employment where we are not so far north in Texas and more south on the coast
A desire for affordable housing may not be the best reason on which to base a decision about living aboard a boat. I am working to move aboard a boat because I am semi retired and in a position to actually embrace the lifestyle. Living aboard a boat requires a different lifestyle. It really is a form of camping and you have to be prepared to embrace that. If you are young and starting out, people often advise you to find a piece of property you can afford and begin building equity. That is why young couples who are just starting out in expensive cities like Dallas/FW, move way out in the suburbs where they can find a starter home they can afford.

Boats are not an investment. They do not appreciate in value, they depreciate like a car. Buying a boat won't leave anything for your kids to inherit like owning a home will. Living aboard a boat requires more lifestyle changes than what it takes to just downsize and join the small house movement. The idea of living on an inland lake does not appeal to me as much as living someplace that has access to the ocean.

It is true, that living on a boat, you don't have to clean gutters or mow a lawn, but you trade those things for scrubbing the algae off of your hull, and annual haulouts to inspect the rudder, propeller shaft and to replace the sacrificial zincs.

For me, I feel like I'm ready to make the move to a boat, at least part of the year, and to put up with the challenges, to be able to go out on the ocean. Without that access to the ocean, I'm not sure I'd want to do it.

My wife had a hard time imagining how life would be on a sailboat. That's why I booked us on a week long liveaboard Cruise and Learn sailing charter. We lived for a week on a boat, cooking, sleeping, pooping and peeing, (oh, and cruising), so that she could get an idea of the lunacy I'm proposing to drag her along on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
That is why young couples who are just starting out in expensive cities like Dallas/FW, move way out in the suburbs where they can find a starter home they can afford.

Boats are not an investment. They do not appreciate in value, they depreciate like a car. Buying a boat won't leave anything for your kids to inherit like owning a home will. Living aboard a boat requires more lifestyle changes than what it takes to just downsize and join the small house movement. The idea of living on an inland lake does not appeal to me as much as living someplace that has access to the ocean.

It is true, that living on a boat, you don't have to clean gutters or mow a lawn, but you trade those things for scrubbing the algae off of your hull, and annual haulouts to inspect the rudder, propeller shaft and to replace the sacrificial zincs.

For me, I feel like I'm ready to make the move to a boat, at least part of the year, and to put up with the challenges, to be able to go out on the ocean. Without that access to the ocean, I'm not sure I'd want to do it.

My wife had a hard time imagining how life would be on a sailboat. That's why I booked us on a week long liveaboard Cruise and Learn sailing charter. We lived for a week on a boat, cooking, sleeping, pooping and peeing, (oh, and cruising), so that she could get an idea of the lunacy I'm proposing to drag her along on.
We are already an hour out, and what has happened in our area is there are more headquarters and corporations that are thinking, "Hmmm... This is the place to be now." So, we are experiencing a housing bubble and soar of sorts, because as some employees are being displaced, they work with realtors to live an hour away from work. A huge example of this is the Toyota headquarters. Hopefully it busts soon, because house taxes sure are soaring too!

His mother and step father have lived aboard a boat for almost 20 years, and on the occasion she would have him and his brothers visit (the three together), they would also spend their nights on board.

I've attached a picture of their boat they managed about 20 years on board -- in a lake in South Carolina and in a marina in Pensacola, Florida. They recently upgraded to something much nicer this year.

As for leaving a legacy or things behind for children, grandchildren, etc, he and I are unfortunately going to be it -- when we set up wills, we will have to figure out what charity to leave it to or split his half in a million ways for his family. My mother is an immigrant, and I am all she has, and at this time she has stage 4 Non Small Cell Lung Cancer, and that's just not so great news to mull over.

It isn't that we are going to go purchase a boat within a month, or even a year.

For how soon, my best guestimate will probably be two years -- between researching, learning, saving, and searching for the perfect boat.

I still have the square one issue that has to be resolved, which is live aboard marinas seemingly do not exist here. If this continues to be the case, we may have to figure out an alternative route or perhaps still purchase a boat, but on the smaller end than the 40'-45' so we do not have to worry about moving it to the next marina at the gulf, and upgrade when time comes that he is able to work near a live aboard marina.

It would also give us experience with a smaller boat, repairs, etc. until the big upgrade.

We discussed today about how far away we would sail from the coast line, should we finally get to the gulf, and it was decided -- not very far. The reason for this is neither of us know very much about engines, even if we master the idea of a boat.

It's main purpose would only to essentially live aboard.

I really love the idea of the week long liveaboard cruise. That would probably be ideal for us when we get closer to our final decision of a live aboard marina.
 

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I think part of your plan needs to find work which frees you up to live in another location. And perhaps some sort of work you can do anywhere even on a boat on an anchor. A lot of work is outsourced to people who work on the WWW and use email to convey their work product. As an architectural consultant I can do CAD drawings, and send them via email. I suspect a lot of CAD work is now outsourced. I am sure there are many jobs that are "portable".

Another possibility is to work for a marina... admin or whatever... a harbor master, or even a jurisdiction that has a waterfront. You might even get dock space in the deal.

If you crack that nut you will free up a lot of the decisions and can focus on the boat. You certainly can and should start looking at boats. Visit as many as you can. You may not be able to kick the tires... as in putting a deposit and taking a test sail. But you should go visit as a potential buyer... which you are. Seller doesn't have to know what your time frame is or even your budget. In fact your budget MAY be driven by what you see... and you will recalibrate your need and budget accordingly.

But at some point you will have to pull the trigger and you'll need to have a place for the boat.... and if you move aboard jobs you can do from the boat or travel to. It's kind of a jigsaw puzzle as opposed to a step by step linear progression. But in the end all the pieces have to fit in the big picture.
 

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Other issues you need to sort out, OP:

-Is the idea of living aboard a boat primarily your idea and you are trying to sell him on it? Or is it an idea you are both interested in, but one of you (sounds like it's you) is more interested in it than the other? Or are you both equally interested in it? This is something you are going to have to work out and be honest about, if you are the only one interested in living on a boat and he is not, the idea is not likely to work.

-What is the primary motivation? Is it to have cheap/affordable housing? And the fact that the housing is a boat that you can sail is an appealing side benefit?

Or is the primary goal to have and live aboard a boat, and sail, and the fact that you can live on it cheaply is the side benefit? This is important to answer because if your number one goal is to become a sailor and liveaboard, then you might change even the state you live in and the careers that you have completely to meet that number one goal. But if the goal is to have affordable housing then the answer might be to simply find an apartment that is more affordable without turning your lives upside down.

Because from glancing over the thread again, I get the impression that even though your stated goal is the affordable housing, that you might be fixated on the idea of boat/sailing/liveaboard lifestyle now and the two of you might not share the same degree of interest or commitment to that idea. I might be mistaken on that but it's just the feeling I get reading between the lines.
 
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