Done By 60: The Liveaboard Life


You’ve heard the phrase about buying a boat, right? The best two days you’ll experience while owning a boat are the day you buy it and the day you sell it. And let’s not forget the acronyms (like break out another thousand) or the many sayings (bankruptcy on a trailer, a hole in the water you throw money into, etc.).  But what happens when your boat becomes your primary house, provides some part-time income, and acts as your getaway spot – all at the same time?

When my semi-retired friend in Marina Del Rey (let’s call him Mike) got rid of his apartment, sold his small boat, and bought a much bigger boat, I thought that he was nuts. But, the move actually simplified his life and helped lower his expenses. How, you ask?

Home Ownership

Mike paid about $100,000 for the boat and he’ll have to pay “rent” for the slip fee. So how can this be cheaper than a land-based life where it’s simply a matter of buying or renting? When I factor in the monthly fees for the slip, insurance, repairs, and more, he’s probably looking at paying around $2,000 per month. By my calculation, if the boat completely dies in just 10 years, his total monthly cost would still be lower than the rent for any waterfront marina apartment. Mike is optimistic that his boat will last for at least 20 more years, so he could end up saving even more.

Additional Income

Mike intends to rent out his boat to tourists for a few nights each month through Airbnb. His guests will be able to sip wine on the sundeck, cook, hang out with the sea lions, use bikes to hit the beach and town, and perform any number of marina activities (kayaking, paddle boarding, etc.). He estimates that this supplemental income will cut his monthly boat-related costs by 50%. In other words, his total “rent” just got very cheap.

Reality Check

This is definitely a niche lifestyle. Personally, I like not having to duck my head to go the restroom, and I enjoy having more than 2 stove burners (and where would I store all of my Le Creuset dishes?). Mike feels that these are small sacrifices since he has 2 levels, plenty of headroom, an amazing upper deck for entertaining a large group of friends, and an incredible sense of community among his boat neighbors. It’s also forced him to simplify his life, get rid of his excess “stuff,” and focus more on life experiences.

Sure, Mike may be underestimating the energy and costs of maintaining his boat (though homeowners have the same tendency), but who really knows if his costs will be more or less than had he opted to rent or buy on land? At the end of the day, Mike’s convinced that his place is much cooler than any nearby apartment, and I think I agree.

Happy planning,