Is It a Good Idea To Live on a Sailboat?

It might seem like a romantic notion but is it a good idea to live on a sailboat? A lot of people seem to think so.

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It might seem like a romantic notion but is it a good idea to live on a sailboat? A lot of people seem to think so.

If you are an adventurous person who loves to experience new things and do not require a lot of creature comforts, then living on a sailboat can be pretty exciting. However, if you really love your wardrobe and want a steady floor under your feet, then life on a sailboat may be a bit tricky for you.

For many people, there is nothing quite like the soft rocking of the water lulling them to sleep and the wind whipping through their air as they lie on the deck. What if you could experience this every day? In this guide, we can help you find if it is possible to live full-time on a sailboat, what to expect when you are deciding to make the move off-shore, and what benefits you can reap from living a life on water.

If you are a person who craves a nomadic lifestyle on the water, this blog could be the answer to your questions. We have taken into account the opinions and statements of several people who have made sailboats their permanent home, including freelance writer and blogger Kristin Hanes and Ross and Morgan Youngblood of The Home That Roams, to find out the truth of living on the water and how it differs from life on land.

Being able to move to warmer climes is a bonus of living on a sailboat. However, there are a few things to expect when you decide to live on the water full-time. Let’s discuss those in the next section.

Table of Contents

Things To Consider When Transitioning to a Life on a Sailboat

Living on a sailboat is a wonderful idea. But like all transitions to an alternative lifestyle, you need to make some preparation before making a sailboat your home. Hence, it is a great idea to make a checklist of all the things that you will need to change when making the move to a boat to ensure you may adapt to the transition more smoothly.

Prioritizing Essentials

Living on a boat means you need to prioritize the bare essentials and cut down on your luxuries. When you move from a 300 sq ft house to a 35 feet sailboat, you need to understand that the beds will be smaller, the closet space is less spacious, the cupboards are fewer — and there is next to no privacy.

Even if you live in a small apartment, you will still need to leave your non-essential items on the shore. This means everything from your personal electronics, kitchen appliances, books, clothes, and even choice of pet has to be reevaluated and you should make sure there is room for the things that you need when you are out on the water.


It is a good idea to keep your winter clothes off the boat since you won’t be requiring them in the summer and spring seasons. It is also a smart idea to keep your business clothes in your office if that is possible for you.

Make sure that the inside of your boat is always clean and dry and there is plenty of ventilation. Your storage and living space will be more susceptible to mildew and condensation and you will need to make sure you have the right equipment to clean it to prevent musty odors.


Just because you have decided on living off-shore doesn't mean you are going to be living off the grid as well. Whether you need a TV or a high-speed internet connection via the marina WiFi, you will need good connectivity solutions to stay linked to your friends, family, work, and entertainment.


When it comes to wear and tear, maintenance on a boat may be worse than that in a house. It is an excellent idea to get yourself familiar with some basic plumbing, electricity, and mechanical skills since all these systems are less reliable in a boat than in a household. Otherwise, you will need to bring in a contractor every time your toilet gets choked — which can happen more frequently than house toilets.

Renting Slips

Most marines require people to submit an application before they can move aboard their sailboats permanently. Renting a slip in a marina is definitely cheaper than renting an apartment or a house; however, it comes with a few conditions. In some areas, liveaboards may not even be permitted or you may have to wait a really long time for a marina slip to become free. In addition, your insurance premiums may increase if your boat becomes your main residence.

Since the parking space in marinas is limited, you only have a select number of slips for boats that people will be living on. In many popular areas, this means that you will have to wait years for a sailboat to move out of a slip so that you can take that spot.

So if you are planning to make the jump from land to the water, do your homework and find out when you can move into your new home.


Animals that live on land like dogs and cats will need to acclimatize to life on the water. Since these animals need space to exercise, eat, and make their toilet, prepare for these things. Make your boat and the dockyard a safe place for them and train them on how to get on the boat or dock if they fall into the water. Be careful of stairs and cramped spaces where they may fall from, get trapped, or find cables to chew. Teach them how to live in a new environment and be patient with them.


Although living on a boat may be much cheaper than renting out an apartment or a house, you will still incur some expenses. These will include your boat mortgage payment (if the boat hasn’t been fully paid out), slip fees, boat insurance, food and water, gas, electricity, and waste management.

The best way to curtail your expenses is to make a budget and then stick to it. Depending on the size and value of your sailboat, your boat insurance can be significant. However, you will be saving more on property taxes as well as utility bills since electricity and gas will not be lighting, cooling, or heating as big a space. You will also be saving money on things like waste management and water.

The Fun Side of Living on a Sailboat

Living on a sailboat is a unique experience. As long as you have the right attitude about it and want to make your move work, it can be a great experience. Here is a boatload of benefits to living on a sailboat full time.


Living on a boat doesn't cost you as much money as living on land, even though you will be required to rent a marina slip. However, this fare may be much less than the rent of a house, depending on the marina you are docking at.

Living on a boat exclusively is also much cheaper than living on a sailboat seasonally. That’s because if you spend even a few months of your year living in an apartment or a house, you will have to pay for the house as well as the marina slip. This can be quite cost-prohibitive. However, if you have the money to maintain both a house on land and a boat in a marina, go for it.

A Simpler Life

Living on a boat is far simpler than living in a regular home. It may be more convenient to live in a house on land, but living on a boat gives you the opportunity to appreciate the small things in life. You are free from various complications, which can help in reducing your stress level.

If you want to live on a boat, we recommend you go all out and stay in it full time rather than juggle between land and water. This means you will be constantly readjusting how you live, which may make it seem like you almost have a double life.

Improved Socializing

Socializing is easier in a marina, probably because there are fewer walls between your homes. Neighbors in the marina are always ready to help each other out but remember that it is a give-and-take relationship, so you should also be prepared to lend a hand when needed. If you prefer to live in solitude, you should consider an end tie in the far corner of the marina, because avoiding people is next to impossible in a busy marina. It may be a bit challenging to live on a boat, but it can be very exciting to learn on the way.


The whole point of living on a boat is that you may set sail wherever you want, whenever you like. Living on a sailboat gives you a greater sense of freedom and allows you to roam the seas and explore new places that you would never be able to if you choose a steady and comfortable life at home.

The Downside of Living on a Sailboat

There is no denying that it is a lot of fun living on a sailboat. However, it also comes with its own unique set of challenges.

Being Far Away and Out of Touch

Sailboats are slow vehicles so you cannot just zoom back home in just a few hours if you have sailed far out. The farther you go away from your home country, the harder and more expensive it will be to return. This means that you may miss out on weddings, funerals, holidays and get together with family and friends.

Rock and Roll

Although there are plenty of people that love the rocking motion of the boat lulling them to sleep, there are many who may be driven crazy from the constant motion, even when the seas are calm. If you like to sleep on a stable and steady surface, boat life may not be for you.

Damp Conditions

If your boat is equipped with dehumidifiers, you may be spared the dampness. Typically, though damp conditions are often an issue on boats. It also allows mildew and mold to thrive and you will need to get special cleaning equipment and clean frequently to get rid of the mildew from growing on wood and fabric.

Lack of Privacy

Sailboats are about 35 feet in length which means you will need to get used to cramped conditions. You may be constantly getting into each other’s way and there is not much room for privacy, which can take a toll on many people.

Reliable Healthcare

If you choose to leave your home country and your physician and health insurance behind, you run the risk of not getting affordable quality health care during medical emergencies. Even important preventative healthcare will suffer if you do not take special care to stay on course.

Less Showers

If you have a big boat that has an expensive reverse osmosis water maker, chances are that your opportunities for showers are fairly low on a boat. To get a shower you will need to make a port or depend on the water that you brought with you the last time you were on land. You also have the option of using soaps that work with saltwater but you will still need to rinse off with a precious bucket of freshwater.

Higher Maintenance

Boat maintenance is frequent and more expensive than home maintenance. Sailboats experience a lot of corrosion because of the saltwater and need to be maintained frequently. This means you will need to add another thousand or two to your maintenance budget if you do not know how to do your own repairs.

Inclement Weather

You need to stay on top of weather updates to be prepared for any inclement weather. If you experience turbulent waters, your boat will start rocking like a shoebox in a matter of minutes. It can be exciting to navigate your boat through such waters but terrifying and dangerous if you are unprepared.

Bottom Line

Living on a boat can be an adventure of a lifetime, but it is not always all sunshine and rainbow. Even experienced sailors can get a little sick of constantly living on a boat for months on end. However, if you own a sailboat, it is a good idea to take full advantage of it. It allows you the opportunity to have a nomadic lifestyle and helps reduce the mundane clutter of everyday life. In addition, it can give you a sense of freedom and allow you to get away from it all — both literally and figuratively — which can lead to a fuller, healthier, and happier life.

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