We recently thought to ourselves…What if we lived on a boat?

A few things to set the stage…

1) Colin has an aversion to home ownership (he calls B.S. on the “it’s a great investment!” propaganda spewed out by the home and lending industry) and I have an aversion to spending a ridiculous amount of money on rent.  This leaves us at a standstill, so to speak. Especially in Seattle.

2) We are fans of Mr. Money Mustache, though we heard him on the most recent Tim Ferriss Podcast, and he sounds so much like Erlich Bachman that I’m not sure I can take him completely seriously anymore:

3) We have some friends who have embarked on #boatlife and are loving it.

Cons to #boatlife

A bit leaky/humid, lots of maintenance projects, small kitchen, the bathrooms, and lack of space

Humidity: I lived in Houston for a good chunk of time and am not so opposed to humidity.  Also, it can be rectified with a de-humidifier.  As for leak-potential…see below under “maintenance.”

Maintenance: we can look at it as a chore, or as a bunch of “fun” projects to do.  Plus, is it really so different when you own a home?

Lack of Space: Many of the rentals we have been looking at are not that big

Small kitchen & the bathrooms: #sigh.

Pros to #boatlife

Cool community, mobile, potential for boat-cations, investment opportunity(?), less driving, less competitive than buying a home OR renting a home


We needed to know the true cost of boat ownership to make an informed decision.  Plus, we needed to get an idea of what it is really like.  In my head, I was picturing these old, dilapidated barges that are tied up along the canal and had an aversion to that.

We visited our friends who are living la vida #boatlife.  Their boat is super nice and cozy.  Probably bigger than many of the apartments that we have been considering.  They are moored up right by his office (he can walk) and his wife works remotely/visits clients.

Currently, Colin and I drive to work.  It takes 30-45 minutes in time each way, requires tank fill-ups every other week (at least, maybe more when trips to the mountain or ocean are factored in), and is a source of stress when you consider traffic.  There are marinas within walking distance of our office.  There are more marinas within easy biking distance.  The climbing gym is also within biking distance of work.  Plus, there are grocery stores, coffee shops, and restaurants within walking or biking distance of most of these marinas.

Additionally, some of the marinas allow Air B’n’B.  It is a dream of ours to set up our business in a way that allows us to take extended trips to fun places – Thailand, Costa Rica, Spain, and many many more places.  In a rental, we would just be frittering that money away while we are gone.  In boat (or home) ownership, we could potentially rent out the home and recoup some costs.

Let’s get down to costs, though.  A decent boat is going to cost us anywhere from $50,000 – $100,000.  We are looking at a 90’s or later boat, fiberglass due to the restrictions on wooden boats at most insurance companies and marinas, that is set up in a comfortable and livable way.  Sailboats are out of the question because the living quarters are generally in a dark hole.  For further costs, I created a spreadsheet.

Assuming we live on the boat for three years, buy a $60,000 boat, provide a downpayment of 20%, and receive a loan rate of 3.25%:

Price of Boat 60,000
Down Payment 12,000
Monthly Commitment
Boat Payment (10yr Boat Loan) 469.00
Moorage (incl. 1st and last month avged out) 791.67
Pump Out (usually included with Moorage) 0.00
Boat Maintenance (assuming 10% of boat cost/year) 500.00
Insurance 200.00
Internet 80.00
Survey (avged out over 3 years) 27.78

This comes out to a monthly commitment of $2,068.44/month.  I haven’t included gas and utilities because I don’t know how much they are.  Some marinas include SOME of these costs and some do not.  Let’s say that they will add an additional $200/month at most.  This brings the monthly total to $2,268.44/month.

If, instead, we buy a $90,000 boat, provide a 20% down payment, and receive a loan rate of 3.25%, we are looking at:

Monthly $$
Boat Payment (10yr) 704.00
Moorage 791.67
Pump Out 0.00
Boat Maintenance 750.00
Insurance 200.00
Internet 80.00
Survey 27.78

This comes out to more like a $2,753.44/month monthly commitment, including an additional $200/month in utilities or additional expenses.

The lowest rent that we have found on a place that we would be willing to live in (has enough space/amenities and is convenient enough) is $1,800/month.  The lowest.  Here are the costs that we are looking at for Renting:

Rent 1800
G/S/W 50
Electric 150
Internet 80
Deposit (1st, last, and security avged over 3 years) 150
Insurance 15
Parking (assuming either we need a permit or pay at a garage) 100

This comes out to a monthly commitment of $2,345/month on the low side.

Now, the rental homes that we actually really like (and aren’t just compromising on) are more in the $2,000 – $2,300/month range.  That puts our monthly commitment at more like $2,786.67/month (I won’t bore you with the spreadsheet on this one, but I assume that the utilities go up a little and that we don’t pay for parking).

These bare costs don’t factor in the additional fun of having a boat – being able to motor around to places or hosting cool-ass boat parties in the summer in Seattle.

It also doesn’t factor in the additional time savings of potentially not having to commute (at least not by car) and the healthy lifestyle increase of walking and biking more.  Aside: This isn’t just an idealistic view, when we lived in Ballard, I rarely used my car during the week.  I walked to the little grocery store up the hill or biked over to Fred Meyer.  I took the bus or rode my bike to work downtown.  I rode my bike to the gym and back.  So, these are realistic aspirations.

So, over three years, we are looking at *potentially* a savings of thousands by investing in #boatlife.  Plus, a boat load (pun intended) of happiness and lifestyle gains.  So, even if we BREAK EVEN, we have gained in the lifestyle and happiness departments which is…let’s face it…worth it on its own.

If we factor in any of the following three things or a combination of any of the three things: 1) we Air B’n’B the boat for standard market rates often enough to recoup the yearly maintenance costs; 2) we receive a mortgage interest rate deduction (we looked into it and it’s a maybe); or 3) we sell the boat at the end of the 3 years…

Then we are looking at ADDITIONAL SAVINGS/a recoupment on our investment.

There’s also the additional option of keeping the boat, of course, at the end of the three years and turning it into an investment by renting it or Air B’n’B-ing it.

All to say…back off our moorage slip, folks.  We’re calling dibs.  And…what am I missing from my calculations?

One Comment on “#BoatLife

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