Living On A Boat: The How-To Guide

Written by
Amber Hobert
Published on
April 23, 2022
Table of Contents

Life Aboard a Boat

Envision yourself on a journey with a gradual pace, the dewy scent of the breeze and air, intimacy with nature, skyline above, but, most significantly, experiencing that provincial lifestyle without any constraints. You understand that it is nothing more than the life of living aboard a boat.

This is a fantastic lifestyle that, if you leap, will provide you with several benefits such as home security, being closer to nature, a good community, reduced spending, as well as being off the grid, to name a few. Notwithstanding these advantages, living aboard a boat has certain obstacles, including an undertaking often associated with pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.

The problems may be related to this unusual ecology that may obstruct your enjoyment and survival on the journey. Nonetheless, as you may have seen in films, documentaries, or even periodicals, or perhaps merely dreamed about it, this living is full of surprises and changes.

It's easy to romanticize the concept of living aboard a boat full-time; yet, such an alternative life requires planning, organization, and the capacity to adapt to change. If you have finally taken that leap of faith and finally decided to live on a boat, here is an ultimate guide to help you prepare a list of essentials and discuss deal-breakers with your partner, such as the cost of living.

Best Boat to Live On Year-Round

There is a significant distinction between a boat for summertime vacation adventures on the beach and one for year-round living aboard. Some distinguishing characteristics and attributes make the latter accommodation seem like a residence for all twelve months of the year.

The greatest boat to dwell year-round is often renowned for its robustness, low maintenance requirements, being built of fiberglass or steel, having mass appeal, and, most significantly, being affordable.

Moreover, there is a variety of distinguishing aspects to be aware of, such as static or even mobile vessels, permanent moorings on either inland as well as coastal seas. The following are among the most incredible boats to live aboard all year:


While recreational trawlers look similar to fishing trawlers, they are leisure vessels designed for sailing and reaping the full benefits of living aboard a boat year-round. They are also known as trawler yachts, and they have specific distinguishing characteristics, including a semi-displacement hull that regrettably makes them less gas efficient.

However, trawlers have acquired favor among certain purchasers, including helmspersons. This favor is due to the semi-displacement hull, which increases the cruising range to roughly around 7-9 knots (13-17 km/h), based on boat length. This boat is both a comfortable living space and a stylish vessel.

Many people have chosen it as the best pick due to the designs it offers, such as the offset deckhouse and the elevated pilothouse, which allow residents to make experiences that will last a lifetime. Trawlers are intended explicitly for lengthy economic trips and are propelled at speeds slower than the theoretical hull limitations.


Sailboats are classified into two types: monohulls and multi-hulls. If you have dreamed of sailing and living on a boat, the monohull is the way to go. It comes with many advantages, such as beautifully crafted sailing yachts and cruiser-friendly draught.

Similarly, the multi-hull has a short design and a high speed while underway. For maximum speed, the hull might be in the shape of catamarans (2 hulls) as well as trimarans (3 hulls). The multi-hull sailboat is twice as broad as a monohull sailboat and has twice as much liveaboard room.

Motorsailers (Yacht)

Because of the nature of yacht construction, a motorsailer is a little slower than a typical sailboat of comparable size. However, it has better performance when driven compared to a sailboat.

Motorsailers are distinguished by ample room, a vast deckhouse, and even a hull form that facilitates and meets your every need for life on a boat. It is one of the most incredible liveaboard vessels, appealing to many sailors as well as boat enthusiasts.


Houseboats are mainly designed as residential maritime vehicles having the distinct feature of being self-propelled. As a result, a houseboat may move without the assistance of a helmsman. Houseboats are the ideal boat to stay on for a year, thanks to their flat bottom or huge apartment that covers the deck.

Though not intended to be permanently anchored, a houseboat allows you to detach from marina utilities such as water, power, and sewer lines, making life on a boat year-round enjoyable.

Floating Homes

Floating homes are typically built on a floating base made of permanently anchored and buoyant substances. Floating homes are frequently as huge as a medium-sized house and multi-story to maximize the fun of dwelling on a boat.

The majority of them feature a submerged basement where you can see aquatic animals and plants. So, if you want to reap the most benefits from living aboard a boat all year, a floating house is an attractive option.

Beneficial Skills to Make Living on a Boat Easier

Boat maintenance is much worse than residential maintenance in terms of regularity or specificity. Since boat utilities are often less dependable than their domestic equivalents, you will require some plumbing, electrical, or mechanical abilities. The option is to hire a contractor for every problem.

Heavy devices with numerous external elements, such as boats, constantly require ongoing maintenance. Inability to adopt a proper maintenance plan might transform a tiny flaw into a costly overhaul and restoration. Poor upkeep may limit your satisfaction as a full-time dweller.

As a result, a potential liveaboard should consider how they intend to utilize the boat as well as the expense of maintaining their boats before making a purchase. If you wish to travel on the sea on a routine basis, then you will require a boating vessel, such as a trawler or a yacht, which can run successfully under internal power.

Those who plan to stay put might choose from various crafts such as houseboats, floating residences, barges, and so on.

Factors to Consider Before Living Aboard

Before boarding your boat and living on it for your planned duration, you must ask yourself the following queries:

● Is this simply for a short amount of time until you start sailing, or is this a way of life?

● Are you willing to continuously defend your decision to your family and friends?

● Do you live in a boat-friendly environment year-round?

● Are you handy and skilled at problem-solving?

● Who will receive your deliveries, and are you prepared to go grocery shopping regularly because a boat has limited storage space?

● Are you prepared to be your own housekeeper?

● Will you be at ease with your children being in these new surroundings?

● What’s Plan B if life aboard fails to work out?

With no dock cart available, you may find yourself dragging laundry to the laundromat and perhaps groceries from the car park after boarding. You also have to make frequent visits to the pump station and the post office to get your mail. Small does not imply simple, so mentally go through a regular week and jot down answers to the problems.

Below are the factors you will have to consider before deciding to live on a boat.

Storage, Comfort, and Connectivity

When you downsize from a 3,000-square-foot home to a 50-foot yacht, all of the wardrobes are tiny, there are fewer cabinets, and there is no two-car carport. Everything is smaller. Therefore, you have to declutter your kitchen equipment, utensils, souvenirs, and apparel as part of your preparation. If feasible, keep your winter gear in off-boat storage.

Ensure the boat is comfortable, dry, and well-ventilated. Condensation and mildew will be a way of life, necessitating the purchase of an entirely new set of cleaners and tools. Plan your connection requirements. Whether it's a TV dish or even a high-speed internet connection through the marina Wi-Fi, you will require a connectivity option to stay connected to work, acquaintances, family, and leisure.

Cost of Living on a Boat

It's often necessary and beneficial to precisely budget for the living costs aboard a boat as a full-time occupant, particularly the expenditures associated with the lifestyle you prefer. Insurance registration, anchoring as well as mooring fees, utility expenses, slip fees, plus maintenance dues, are all part of the expense of residing full-time in a boat.

To begin, your creditor will expect you to have insurance coverage for possible loss as well as liability claims. Please remember that boat insurance for floating houses or residing in a boat is not the same as home insurance for land-based residences. Likewise, anchoring and mooring fees for the convenience of land accessibility to popular areas on the shore are part of the expense of living aboard a boat.

Mooring costs may include dinghy storage, free tank pump-outs, water car service, and use of the restrooms and laundry amenities. Finally, various expenses for general moorage care are levied, such as homeowners' association charges. The utilities plus slip fees pay the bay's facilities, including power, water, propane, and sewer services.

The annual maintenance expense might range between around $1,000 and $5,000. Do not be under the illusion that living on a boat will save you cash. Here are some of the other costs you may face if you live aboard your boat:

● Boat loan payment

● Slip fees

● Boat coverage

● Waste disposal

● Gas

● Water and food

Making and sticking to a budget is the best method to control spending. Boat insurance may be as expensive as home insurance, depending on the size and value of the vessel. Property taxes are typically lower, as is electricity because you will not be heating/cooling/lighting as prominent a place. You are bound to save money on waste management, gas, and water.

Maintenance is when expenses skyrocket. Marine components and labor are often more expensive—up to around 20% more than comparable domestic counterparts. If you perform the activities yourself and are self-employed, each hour you spend laboring on your yacht is an hour you will not get paid for.

Security and Safety

You must determine whether to welcome people inside your boat and if children and dogs will be safe near the docks. Incorporate Carbon Monoxide (CO) and smoke detectors, as well as a gas sniffer, and inspect the fire extinguishers regularly. In addition, keep an eye on the fundamentals, such as bilge and battery levels. You could also think of the following:

● Will it be safe for you to stroll from the car park to the slip at night?

● Will your fine automobile be safe outside the driveway 24 hours a day, seven days a week?

● Who will contact you if the boat begins to list while you are away?

● There are not more or fewer safety problems, simply different sorts of them.

Daily Life and Socialization

In a marina, socializing is easier than in a neighborhood. In marinas, neighbors assist neighbors; however, it's a two-way street, so be prepared to offer assistance when required. Pick an end tie in a neglected area of the marina if you like to live secretly. While living aboard a boat has its obstacles, if you are confident that you are ready, you could find it to be an excellent match.


The quantity of living space offered on different liveaboards distinguishes them. Specialized boats are best suited for a solo person to live aboard, while larger vessels may support couples or even small families. Oftentimes, this extra capacity is useful, but it comes at a cost, such as the expense of maintaining your boat.

Experts suggest that any vessel used for cruising be operated by a single individual, which needs a high degree of physical ability, physical fitness, expertise, dedication, and so on. However, suppose you are part of a team or family. In that case, a floating house is usually the ideal option because it is often not restricted in size, has an additional room with a bigger base, and many floors to house more people.

Why Residing on Boats is Better Than Houses

You Can Move Your Boat and Live Anywhere

Perhaps when you would like to move, you shouldn't have to sell your boat; just untie your lines then move. You do not have to deal with all the technicalities that come with selling a house, such as preparing it for sale, holding showings, and trying to find a new house.  And, because your water home can travel with the wind (if you have a sailboat), the entire world's coastlines are potential future 'homes.'

Others Are Willing to Pay Millions of Dollars for Your View

You may typically get riverfront property in a marina for a fraction of the cost that residents in the same area spend. In so many cases, the sight from the marina would be even better!

There is Often a Fantastic Liveaboard Community

Based on the boats' proximity and the necessity to walk the docks to explore the marina, you will have multiple conversations with your neighbors during the day. If anyone has a problem, everyone pitches in to help. Everybody is watching out for one another.

The social atmosphere is terrific. Almost every evening, liveaboards gather for a talk and a drink anywhere along the dock or aboard a boat. Friendships formed among liveaboards can be significant and rewarding. There is no sheltering behind your front gate or your door, as most homeowners do these days.

Full-Time Liveaboards Have Common Values

Liveaboards each have a passion for the water and are not interested in purchasing items simply to purchase them (no space). Many boaters are passionate about conservation, green tech, and environmental stewardship. Many people work from their boats or have an entrepreneurial mentality. They love close connections and go out of their way to make someone feel welcome or wanted.

Liveaboards offer, give, then give some more. Someone is constantly preparing too much and inviting too many people around. Sundowners and appetizers are often a last-minute option.

Because most liveaboards do not have any cable or satellite television, they are not bombarded with unpleasant news. Although there will be discussions regarding current events, they will not predominate the time spent there. Typically, the subject of conversation is on the most recent boat repair that is necessary!

Stories are spoken, jokes are made, and food and drinks are handed around. Liveaboards at a marina have a real sense of belonging and respect for one another. People from diverse walks of life and ideals congregate in one neighborhood, often with little in common.

Living on a Boat Might Be Significantly Less Expensive

In a marina, boat owners pay monthly for their boat slips. A long-term contract generally comes with a significant discount (ex. around six months). Other expenses include power and a liveaboard charge, which some marinas charge. That's all. Compare that to the typical bills you currently receive while living in a house.

Making New Pals is Simpler

Marinas frequently have liveaboards, long-term residents, as well as new tourists. One week, you might meet a fascinating couple traveling south, and the next week, you could meet a sailing household traveling north.

No matter who comes by, it's simple to say 'hello' as you help someone with the lines, make a brief introduction, and before you know it, you've made yourself a new friend. Meeting your neighbors is unusual in today's culture, let alone having a steady influx of fresh and intriguing individuals to meet.

How Can I Live on a Boat with a Pet?

Cats, dogs, as well as other pets must adjust to their new surroundings. They require exercise, privacy, convenient availability of food, and even a toilet. Ensure the steps and docks are secure for pets and that they understand how to get back on board or dock if they slip in.

Be wary of narrow areas in which they might become stuck or wires that they can gnaw at. Simply put, try to be as patient as possible as you teach them regarding their new surroundings and make your life aboard the boat pet-friendly so that they have an easier time adjusting.

Are You Ready to Start Your Liveaboard Adventure

Living aboard a boat has become one of the most daring experiences individuals have undertaken in recent decades, with several rewards and chances on offer. Though reaching this landmark in life may be difficult due to several limitations, as discussed, it stems from a powerful will and drive and recognizing the needs related to it.

And with these outlined simple guides to living on a boat, let the drifting begin. If you are passionate about living an unconventional lifestyle that offers unpredictable, exhilarating moments daily, then maybe this is the life for you. This beginner's guide should help make your transition to boat ownership easier and more enjoyable.

To get started with this lifestyle change successfully, please consult with a seasoned specialist in boat living matters as well as a mail forwarding service so they can answer any questions you may have about living aboard a boat and receiving your mail!

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