What Is A Good Size Sailboat To Live On?

"What is a good size sailboat to live on," this is a question you might be asking yourself if you are thinking of life aboard. Well, there is much to consider before you make such a commitment.

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‍"What is a good size sailboat to live on," this is a question you might be asking yourself if you are thinking of life aboard. Well, there is much to consider before you make such a commitment.

Sailboats come in various sizes, and depending on if you have a family or are making this journey alone, the sailboat size can vary. Ideally, anywhere between 35 to 45 feet is perfect for a couple or a family of four. A solo traveler can also opt for 15 to 25 feet, but if space and comfort are what you are looking for, go bigger.

Sleeping to the gentle rocking of the boat, waking up to a beautiful sunrise, and enjoying the breeze through your hair, it all sounds lovely and a life worth living. But as stated above, there is a lot more that needs to be thought through before buying a boat. There is a big difference between a week living aboard compared to your whole life. You might face difficulties finding your personal space, comfort, or even maintaining a boat.

Moving from a house to a boat has its challenges. Thus, we have gathered real-life experiences and reliable sources to help you tackle the problems by crossing all things in the living-aboard-on-a-sailboat checklist.

Table of Contents

Things You Need to Consider Before Living on a Sailboat

Before joining the sailboat lifestyle, we need you to take a look at some of the factors that will help you make a well-informed decision.  

Type of Sailing

Your intent needs to be clear about buying a sailboat. What are you going to use it for? Do you plan to live aboard for a long time? Or is it just for the weekends? What type of sailing will you be doing?

These questions will greatly affect not only your decision on sailboat living but also the type of boat you buy. If you only plan on cruising, you will look for comfort and space. Whereas, if you plan on racing, you need to buy specialized sailboats. Keep in mind; racing boats rarely offer comfort. But you always opt for a hybrid model as well if you plan to do both racing and cruising.


Weather plays a major role in your sailboat living. Thus, if you are comfortable with sudden weather changes and are suited to both extremes of hot and cold weather, a sailboat is the perfect place for you.

Weather also affects your sailing. You might need to move around in the middle of the night because of an incoming storm or stay put if there is no wind. Thus, your sailing will be largely dependent on the weather. If you are up for learning how to predict and navigate the weather, go for it!


Sailboat living is ideal for a solo traveler or even a couple. But if you are thinking about starting a family or expanding one, you need to decide if such an environment is suitable for them. And keep in mind, the bigger the family, the lesser will be the space and comfort.

If you are comfortable with sharing bathroom, meals, and space, you can try sailboat living. That's why the question "what is a good size sailboat to live on?" should come after considering how comfortable you are with the people you will share a boat with.


A sailboat, no matter how big, is much smaller as compared to the house you used to live in. if you are seriously thinking about living aboard, adopting minimalism will be beneficial for you. You need to get rid of unnecessary items, leave the keepsakes and mementos at home, keep seasonal clothing, and reduce gadgets and furniture.

Suppose you are not tied down by any of the things mentioned above; congratulations, you are ready for sailboat living. Now, we can move on to our main question, "what is a good size sailboat to live on?”

What is a Good Sailboat Size to Live on?

Many experienced sailors call a 35 to 45 feet sailboat the perfect size for a cruising couple or a family.  Why? Sizes lower than this will affect your storage size and ultimately affect the speed of your cruising as well. For example, a 25 feet boat will be smaller, have less storage space, and thus can handle less weight.

The equipment of the sailboat will take up some of the weight, and all your items like clothing, food, gadgets will take up a quarter of the weight. Meanwhile, the smaller the boat, the slower the speed is. This will increase your sailing time, which will, in turn, require you to add more provisions for the rest of your voyage.

Going for an even larger vessel than 45 feet will solve your problems of storage and speed. But it comes with its own cons. Manning such a large boat is extremely difficult, and if you are new to this, we wouldn't recommend buying a bigger boat. You need to have skills and be comfortable managing the engine on your own.

Moreover, larger sailboats are extremely expensive, and it's not a one-time investment. The constant maintenance and checks will quickly drain your bank account. On the other hand, you can easily host parties and have your own space, even with a family.

What's the Sweet-Spot When it Comes to Sailboat Sizes?

If you are looking for the ultimate-sized sailboat that is perfect for a couple or a family, go for a 30 footer boat. This is the minimum size required to comfortably cross the ocean. Also, it eliminates the issues of speed, cost, and storage.

30-foot sailboats can also easily handle storms or extreme weather for a longer period and are durable as compared to smaller vessels.

Now that we have answered your question, let's move on ahead and see which boat is perfect for your living aboard journey.

What to Look for When Buying a Sailboat

There is a lot that needs to be researched before buying a sailboat. Some people spend months before they find what they are looking for. To make this process easier for you, we have listed out the key things you to should take into account.

Types of Sailboats

There are many boat options available, so why should we go for sailboats? Sailboats are extremely versatile vessels and come in a variety of sizes. Thus anyone can find the perfect fit for themselves. Sailboats don't only rely on the wind but are equipped with motors as well to help facilitate your journey.

A sailboat is ideal for living because it has more space, makes less noise, and has multiple options and types to choose from. Based on their hull shape, sailboats are categorized into; mono-hulls, catamarans, and multi-hulls. They all differ in the level of stability and the number of hulls.

Out of all these, catamarans, like the Atlantic 42, Catana 471, etc.,  offer the perfect size, space, and steadiness to make your living aboard a dream come true. They offer luxurious living quarters, have increased deck space, and provide privacy as well due to their hull design. However, they are more expensive to maintain and require double the sails material than a smaller sailboat.


No matter how many times we mention it, it isn't enough. If you are planning on living aboard for the rest of your life, comfort is key. Especially if you are sharing the boat with other people, you need to build a comfortable space, be ready to be crammed in together, and distribute the workload among everyone. That's why "what is a good size sailboat to live on?" becomes a crucial question.

If sharing space is not your forte, it's best to go for larger vessels or even opt for a floating home. But the additional costs and maintenance are something you need to account for.


No one said life on a sailboat would be easy. Since you are manning such a large vessel by yourself, you need to take care of the repairs and maintenance. To avoid costly repairs, it's best to prepare a checklist and cross out all maintenance issues first thing in the morning. This will help maintain your sailboat, increase durability, and reduce the expensive repair bills. Thus, it's best to train for this before making a commitment. Additionally, try handling all problems by yourself and make sure to choose a sailboat that is easy to work with.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Living on a Sailboat



The biggest pro of sailboat living is freedom. You are free from prying eyes, even away from the hustle of the world, and can enjoy a sunset in peace. The freedom to change your location just because you didn't like the view or the place is something not possible with a 2,000 square feet home. It is, quite literally, a breath of fresh air.


Many people think that living on a sailboat means isolating yourself from the community. While it might not be as crowded as a dinner party in your home, people do develop a community or become part of one. People living aboard are always ready to help someone out. And most of these people are extremely like-minded. So, the community might be small, but it for sure is strong.


Despite what people think, living on a boat is not only for rich people. In fact, some people have called it more cost-effective as compared to managing a house. Yes, your boat insurance can be equal to house insurance, but you do save money on utility bills like electricity, gas, and water. However, the actual cost of the sailboat can vary depending on where and from whom you buy it from.


Shortage of  Space

Space is the biggest concern when it comes to sailboat living. If you are used to large rooms, personal bathrooms, and excessive gadget use, boat life is not for you. No matter how big your boat is, it just doesn't have the storage space for separate closets or bathrooms.

So for people who are not comfortable with sharing spaces should be asking the question "what is a good size sailboat to live on" before making any decisions.

Weather and Wildlife Interruption

Your boating life will be greatly affected by the weather conditions. No matter how used to it you become, a rolling thunderstorm ahead is enough to cause panic and quick preparations. You might even need to move spaces because the weather is just not right, and since you are completely exposed on a boat, you can't really hide from it.

Another concerning factor is the interruption of wildlife. You can be sure to find all sorts of animals like birds, mice, cats, and insects making a home on your sailboat. The only way to prevent this, keep your boat clean and don't leave any leftovers out.  

Costs of Maintaining a Living Aboard Lifestyle

Just because it's slightly cost-effective than owning a house, you still need to stick to a budget, or it very quickly can go overboard. Besides buying a boat, you need to set money aside for insurance, anchorage, and mooring. The anchorage and mooring fees will provide you access to places and make your life so much easier.

The bulk of the expenses of sailboat living come from maintenance. Your boat needs to be checked and routinely prepped. This might save you from quick repairs, but eventually, you will need some professional work done. Thus, maintenance can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 annually.

Now that you know what is a good size sailboat to live on, you can make the decision easily. There is a lot to consider about sailboat living. Think about whether or not you can accommodate with the minimum space, cover the expenses, and are you ready for such a commitment. It might seem like a beautiful life, and it truly is, but there are challenges you will face, and only through sheer will, will you be able to get through.

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