Living on the sea would definitely be one of many people’s fantasies, both boating and non-boating enthusiasts. The luxury of just taking a dip in the ocean when you want to, watching the sunrise or sunset, the thrill of taking your home with you anywhere you would want to go; these are reasons that are enough to make you want to live in the sea.

Now as wonderful as what is above sounds, let’s be realistic, living that type of life will obviously cost you a sum. But how much does it really cost to live on a boat? You could use this write-up to get an idea about how much it would cost to live on a boat.

Basic Costs to Consider if You Want to Live on a Boat

Cost Of Docking in a Marina

You have to be mindful of the region you are in when you decide to live in a boat. For example, the fees you would incur in a place like Florida won’t be the same in a place like Alaska or any northern state. If the marina you plan on using is vacant, then the price will definitely be lower compared to a marina that is packed and has a long waiting list.

To give you a rough idea of how much it costs to dock your boat in a marina in the US, it will cost you between $10 and $30 per foot per month, depending on your location and the facilities that the marina is offering. So, if you have a 40-foot boat and you dock at a $15 per foot marina, it will cost you $600 per month to dock. Then, marinas also charge a “liveaboard fee” to people that live on their boats full-time because they use the facilities more, and that is usually between $100 and $300.

Finally, you will also have to pay for electricity and water (which are metered) and taxes. To sum up, it will cost you between $550 and $1,500 just to live on your boat docked on the marina. Of course, the marina fees only apply if you opt for living on the marina; if you decide to set sail and live under sail while avoiding marinas and anchoring at night, you will save quite a bit. 

Cost of Purchasing The Boat

Let’s not forget that you’d have to purchase a boat to live in one. The price for each boat varies. You won’t expect the price for a 20-foot boat to be the same as that of a 40-foot boat. For anyone looking to buy a boat, it is advisable that you try to go for a boat that fits into your budget and at the same time can afford you the amount of luxury you’d love to enjoy. Try to find the middle ground between both factors. However, make sure to purchase a boat that fits your needs and be big enough to be your home. Otherwise, it will quickly feel cramped.

Of course, the cost of purchasing a boat is the biggest wild card when it comes to costs in this list. This is because one can purchase a boat to live on for $30k, but someone else can purchase a 50-foot catamaran with all the bells and whistles for over 2 million USD. The bottom line here is to purchase something you can comfortably afford because you will also have to spend a lot of money on maintenance.

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats Under 100k


Sadly, you can’t escape this even if you don’t want to live on land, although the taxes also vary from place to place. There are also such places that don’t have taxes, like Rhode Island. Also, tax rates differ from place to place. I can’t give you a specific figure here because there are too many variables.

Insurance Cost

You still need to ensure your boat, which will also cost you money. Be mindful that some insurance companies will not accept people who liveaboard, so you will have to shop around. Also, be prepared to pay a premium to issue the boat that you will live on. To give you a rough idea of how much insurance will cost you to live on a boat, a liveaboard insurance policy typically costs between $200 and $500 per year.

Food Cost

Food is an essential factor. You will have to eat irrespective of where you are. If you plan to live on a boat, you have to stock up on food at regular intervals. Depending on where you are, the price of foodstuff will definitely differ. But make no mistake about this, you will definitely spend a lot on food. However, if your fishing skills are on point and you fish daily, you can save a lot of money on food and live off the sea. 


You will have to fuel your vessel if you want it to move in the first place, but most would find this cheaper than fueling their cars because you don’t move the boat about every day. You also have the option to be docked in the marina all the time and save on fuel, but you will forfeit many of the advantages associated with living on a boat. Also, there are many liveaboards that choose to use only the wind as a means of propulsion and only use their engine to set anchor or enter the marina. That will save you a ton of money on fuel but, unfortunately, that only works on sailboats.

Utilities Cost

You will have to pay for various utilities on the boat like electricity, the cable and phone, garbage removal, and clearing out your sewage. Daily necessities like these will cost you, especially at a marina. The majority of these expenses can be saved if you avoid marinas since you can empty your holding tanks under sail. If you live on a boat full time, you should definitely invest in a renewable energy source like solar panels or wind turbines. However, if you decide to live in a marina full-time, you should expect to pay around $100 and $300 per month for utilities. 


It will be wise for you to purchase life jackets for yourself and other family members, just in case! It would be best if you also had paddle horns and signal flares in case of an emergency. These safety features do not apply only to people who live on their boats full time but to everyone that uses their boat, even for a couple of hours on the weekend. You should budget for around $150 per life jacket. 

Cost Of Living on a Boat or Sailboat

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats To Live In

Other Costs to Consider When You Living On a Boat

You could look for other things, but those points on the list are crucial. Some of these other factors include the boat’s interior designs, maintaining the interior and exterior of the boat, and maintenance of the engine. Let’s look into these things in depth.

As far as maintenance is concerned, it would help if you had a solid maintenance plan. Not having one makes it very difficult for many boaters to enjoy their boats and experience maximum satisfaction. The higher the boat you go for, the more expensive the maintenance will be. If we are to make any comparison, it would be like owning a Ferrari to owning a Nissan; the maintenance costs of both cars are miles apart. It’s the same with boats. As you budget for the boat, you should think about how easy it is to purchase spare parts, and you should also have the technical know-how about how the boat works and its parts. I’d advise reading the boat manual and researching on your own. 

You Need to Maintain and Replace Parts Like:

Batteries: No matter how careful or prudent you are with the boat, the batteries will eventually die, and you’ll need to replace them. The price for batteries vary and can get as high as $279 and as low as $65. The size of the boat determines the type and cost of the battery.

Polishing/Repainting the Hull: The hull of a boat goes through a serious beating when you go into the water, and the paint can easily peel off or get washed off. You can either choose to repaint or polish the hull. Most boaters go polishing because it’s the easier and cheaper option, but eventually, you’ll have to repaint the hull. As of 2019, the average cost of repainting the hull per foot was around $25. From this, you can easily see that the bigger the boat, the more it will cost to repaint the hull. The opposite is applicable for a smaller boat. If you have an old boat with a damaged hull or defects on the hull, you will have added expenses because those defects will have to be repaired before you can paint.

Let’s move on to the engine; it’s crucial to regularly check up on the engine cause replacing the engine of a boat is no joke. 

Filters: Remember to change the oil and fuel filters of the engine

Oil: You always need to change the engine’s oil after some time. Don’t forget to top up the oil to keep the engine running regularly.

Also, remember to change the spark plugs. All in all, it costs a considerable sum to maintain the engine of a boat.

Interior Repair Costs

When you are living on a boat, the interior will suffer some wear and tear from daily use, just like the interior of any home. However, it will be a little more expensive to repair. As for the boat’s interior, furnishing the boat costs a lot of money. Most boats use vinyl fabrics to upholster the furniture, which would cost around $40 -$50 per square yard. To reupholster a chair, especially a recliner, the price may range from $500 to $3500. Upholstery is simply providing furniture with soft padding covers to clear any confusion. You can always choose between buying a new piece of furniture and reupholstering what you already have. Just know that reupholstering might not necessarily always be the cheapest choice.

The boat’s vinyl-covered parts have to be cleaned several times in a season. You will also have to ensure you use the proper type of cleaner, or you could end up causing serious damage to the material and spending way more than you intended in the first place.

Cost Of Living on a Boat or Sailboat

How Much Does It Cost To Live On a Boat – Summary

Living on the sea is a picturesque fantasy many people dream about, but sadly, most really tend to ignore or forget the fact that this dream of theirs will cost quite a pretty sum. In an average month, it costs between $2,000 and $3,000 to live on the boat. Of course, this is just an estimate based on the average joe that wants to live on a boat. If you are extremely frugal, only use your sails to move around and skip the marina as much as possible; you can probably get away with spending less than $1,000. However, if you want to live on an extravagant 55-foot catamaran with a hot tab and all the luxuries you can imagine, you can easily blow up the number to over $10,000.  

I hope that his write-up will give all the boating enthusiasts an idea of how much it costs to live on a boat and all the potential expenses they will incur if they do. To you enthusiastic boaters that plan on living in a boat and are reading this, I hope this helps you plan and budget wisely so your dream doesn’t end up being a nightmare.