Could you live on a boat?

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Living full time on a boat conjures up a picture of an idyllic lifestyle – cruising from one beautiful location to another. But… practically, what is it really like? Is it affordable? Is it doable?

The answer to these questions is really ‘it depends’. There are plenty of people who do live on their boats and there are plenty of great stories on the web about how liberating the lifestyle is. On the other hand you have to be prepared to live in a lot less space, with a lot less storage than you’d find in even the smallest house.

Here’s a non-exhaustive list of the advantages and disadvantages of a life on the ocean wave… (we’ll start with the bad news)


You can’t do much about the weather, and you’re even more exposed on the water than you are on land. You do need to keep your eye on the weather and be prepared to move your vessel to a safe haven if very bad weather threatens.

As mentioned above, there’s generally very little on a boat. Catamarans have a little more than single hulled boats.

Getting wet
Nobody likes getting soaked, not even hardened boaties, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Especially if you’re berthed in a marina, you’ve got a fair bit less privacy than in a house. Plus most people living aboard don’t have a washing machine, so the local laundromat – wherever you are – may become a regular haunt.

Value of your new home
Unfortunately your new home on water is more likely to go down in value, rather than go up – a bit different to buying property on land.

And now for the good news…


A lot of costs which just go with the territory with a house, are much smaller (or non-existent) on a boat. These include for example power bills and council rates. There are some costs of course, such as mooring fees and/or marina fees. But if you still own your house and rent it out, the rent will generally more than cover any marina fees.

Although in a marina you might have the occasional boat-based party, as a rule barking dogs and the like are a rarity. Neighbours are generally pretty friendly and have the same interest in sailing/boating as you do. They can also be a great source of help and knowledge, particularly if you’re relatively new to life on the water.

Living a free lifestyle
By free, we mean, free to do what you want, when you want. If you’d like to sail to another part of the coast, or even to another country, you can do so on a whim (almost).

Maintenance is a double-edged sword – if you own a boat, but don’t live on it, maintenance can be a bit of a chore, but if you live on the boat you are there so maintenance is a little easier. However a boat owner needs to be reasonably ‘handy’ and having some knowledge of how engines and other devices/machines on board work is a definite advantage. You can get people in to fix things on the boat, but marine specialists generally charge more than your standard tradie.


In the final analysis, you have to do your sums* and work out whether you’d be happy living onboard the boat you can afford, and whether you are prepared to make the necessary sacrifices for a life on the ocean.

One of the most important pieces of advice we have seen repeated over and over is the importance of checking out the seaworthiness of any boat you like the look of – get both the hull and the motor checked over by a professional before buying any boat. It’s no good falling in love with a boat, only to find out that it has major problems. This can be a problem buying anywhere to live, but getting it wrong with a boat is a bit more serious – your new home could sink or at the very least require a lot of money spent on it to keep it shipshape. Makes sure that BOAT doesn’t stand for Better Organise Another Thousand!

*and when you’re doing your sums give us a call and we can help you with your boat loan

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