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Living on a Boat: A Beginner's Guide for Liveaboards

CEO Tinh Phung
Living on a boat full-time may seem like a romantic and adventurous lifestyle, but it requires careful preparation, organization, and the ability to adapt to change. Before you make the leap, there are several factors...

Living on a boat full-time may seem like a romantic and adventurous lifestyle, but it requires careful preparation, organization, and the ability to adapt to change. Before you make the leap, there are several factors you need to consider.

Factors to Consider Before Living Aboard

Moving aboard a boat is not just a temporary arrangement, it's a lifestyle choice. You will need to be comfortable with explaining and defending your choice to friends and family. Additionally, living in a climate that is boat-friendly year-round is crucial. Are you handy and able to solve problems? Consider how you will handle receiving Amazon deliveries and frequent grocery shopping due to limited storage space. You should also be prepared to take care of your own cleaning and consider how your children will adjust to this new environment. Lastly, have a backup plan in case living on a boat doesn't work out.

After moving aboard, you will encounter everyday challenges such as hauling laundry to the laundromat, carrying groceries with no dock cart nearby, and making regular trips to the pump-out station and post office. Prepare yourself mentally by envisioning a typical week and brainstorming solutions to these issues.

Essentials: Stowage, Comfort, and Connectivity

When transitioning from a spacious house to a small boat, you will need to downsize and declutter. Kitchen gadgets, tools, mementos, and clothing should be minimized. Store winter clothes off the boat and keep business attire at your office if possible. It's essential to ensure that your boat is warm, dry, and well-ventilated to prevent mildew and condensation. Plan for your connectivity needs, whether it's a dish for TV or access to high-speed internet via the marina's WiFi.

Beneficial Skills to Have for Living Onboard

Living on a boat requires basic maintenance skills. Plumbing, electrical, and mechanical knowledge will come in handy as boat systems are less reliable than household counterparts. Being able to fix issues yourself can save you time and money.

living on a boat beginners guide Living on a boat: A beginner's guide - Image Source

Cost of Living on a Boat

Contrary to popular belief, moving aboard a boat does not necessarily mean saving money. There are several expenses to consider, including the boat mortgage payment, slip fees, boat insurance, waste management, gas, and food and water. Creating a budget and sticking to it is the best way to manage expenses. While electricity costs may be lower compared to a house, maintenance expenses can be significantly higher due to the specialized nature of marine parts and labor.

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Safety and Security

Ensuring your safety and security while living on a boat is crucial. Install CO2 and smoke alarms, a propane sniffer, and regularly check fire extinguishers, bilge, and battery levels. Consider factors such as walking safely from the parking lot to the slip at night and protecting your vehicle outside the garage. Have a plan in place for emergencies and make sure someone can reach you if any issues arise.

Daily Life and Socialization

Living in a marina provides ample opportunities for socializing and forming connections with your neighbors. Neighbors often help each other out, so be prepared to lend a hand when needed. If you prefer a more private lifestyle, you can choose an end tie in a secluded area of the marina. While living on a boat has its challenges, with proper preparation, it can be a perfect fit for those seeking a unique way of life.


I already have a boat in a marina slip, can I just move aboard?

Moving aboard permanently usually requires an application process at most marinas. In some areas, liveaboards may not be permitted, or there may be long waiting lists. Keep in mind that liveaboard slip fees are typically higher, and your insurance rates may increase if your boat becomes your primary residence.

How do I live aboard a boat with a pet?

Acclimating pets to their new boat environment requires patience and planning. They need exercise, a designated space, easy access to food and a potty area, and safe stairs and docks. Take precautions to ensure their safety and teach them about their new surroundings.

Learning to live aboard a boat is a unique and rewarding experience. It's important to approach this lifestyle with careful consideration, preparedness, and an open mind. By embracing the challenges and embracing the community, living on a boat may just be the adventure you've been seeking.

Read Next: Boat Owner's Guide