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A Complete Guide to Living on a Boat Full-Time
A Complete Guide to Living on a Boat Full-Time

Have you always dreamed of living on a boat?

Living on a boat full-time isn't for everyone, but for some people, it's an idyllic lifestyle. Whether you're living alone or you're bringing your family along, you can learn how to live on a boat year-round. 

But how can you make this happen? 

We're here to provide you with a guide to living on a boat without making too many sacrifices to do so. Read on to learn more. 

First: Things to Consider

When you have your mind set on something, it's tempting to jump into it right away. Why can't you just move all of your things onto your boat right now? It's right in the marina waiting for you!

This is going to be a huge adjustment if you've only ever lived on land (especially if you've only lived in a conventional home). There are a lot of things that you're going to have to consider before you take that leap. 

Here are a few special considerations you should make before you commit to living on a boat full-time. 

Your Household: Who's Living on the Boat? 

If you already live alone, this isn't going to be an issue for you. You have complete control over what goes on on the boat and your needs are the only needs that matter.

That said, if you live with other people who will also be joining you on the boat, you need to consider their needs before committing. You're going to have to have a serious conversation about whether or not this move is possible. 

If you have a large household, living on a boat will be complicated. You may want to switch routes to part-time boat life instead of living on a boat full-time. 

Even if it's only you and a partner or roommate, living on a boat can feel cramped. Make sure that you both know what you're in for. 

If you have pets or children, you have even more to consider. It's more difficult to keep children safe when you're living on a boat, and this is a conversation that you'll need to have with your co-parent before you move.

Pets need space to play and somewhere to use the bathroom. If you have large pets, living on a boat might not be the best option. 

Necessary Space

How much space are you comfortable with?

Anyone who's ever lived in a small studio apartment will know what it feels like to live on a boat. You're going to be in close quarters, so consider that before you commit. 

It's helpful for everyone to get off of the boat during the day so you have time apart. This will stop your space from feeling so small. 

The amount of space that you need will also determine the type of boat that you're going to live on (more on types of boats later). You may need a larger boat to accommodate your household. 

Other Basic Necessities

It's easy to forget basic necessities because we're so used to having them. If you're living on a boat, things will be different.

If you stay in the marina on a slip, it won't be too different from living in a standard house. If you're spending a lot of time out at sea, however, you need to plan more carefully. 

Remember that all of your groceries and toiletries should be well-stocked. It may be more difficult for you to get them where they need to be. 

You're going to need ample safety gear and you'll have to determine where you can have things delivered. Not all delivery people will deliver to boats. 

Your Budget

Many people think that living on a boat is a great way to save money. While you can save money by living on a boat (more on the specific cost of living on a boat later on), you still need to determine your budget before you make any big decisions. 

This is now going to be your housing budget, so keep that in mind when you're determining how much you'll be able to spend. Ideally, you're replacing the cost of your conventional home. 

Costs Associated With Living on a Boat Full-Time 

Speaking of your budget, what are the costs associated with living on a boat? 

First, you're going to need the right boat. Boats are expensive, and even if you already own or rent a boat, it might not be the best boat for living on. This is going to be the largest initial expense, but it's an important one. 

Then, you're going to need somewhere to park your boat unless you plan on living in the open water full-time. This means that you're going to need a slip. You may have to pay substantial rent to live there (though it will be lower than the rent for a standard house or apartment). 

Consider the cost of fuel for your boat. If you plan on sailing around often, your fuel costs are going to add up over time. 

You'll need to pay for maintenance. Even if you maintain the boat on your own, you have to consider the cost of materials and equipment to keep your boat in tip-top condition.

You may need to pay HOA fees (yes, even on a boat). If you're unsure as to whether or not your specific docking location requires HOA fees, don't be afraid to ask before making a commitment. 

The cost of living on a boat is more affordable than other housing options, but don't fall into the trap of thinking that it's going to be cheap. 

Do You Need Permission?

So if you already have a slip and a boat, do you need permission to live there full-time? 

Not all marinas will allow people to live aboard their boats full-time. While you could risk it, you're better off looking at regulations and asking for permission first.

You may be charged higher fees when you decide to live on a boat full-time. Your insurance rates may go up as well. 

Best Boats to Live on Full-Time

So if you're planning on using your boat as a home, what type of boat should you choose? You know that you're going to need plenty of room if you want to stay comfortable, but you still have a variety of options.

Remember that you should always visit a boat in-person before you commit to living on it. Sometimes boats look different in photos and you may discover that it "feels" a lot smaller when you're actually inside of it.

You want a good balance of performance and livability. That balance will vary from person to person. Some boats are better for actual boating while others are more suitable for living.

Here are a few popular options for people who've decided to live on the water full-time. 

Tugboats and Trawlers

Tugboats and trawlers might not seem glamourous on the surface, but these sturdy boats are perfect for anyone who wants to live on a boat full-time. 

They have plenty of room both on the deck and below it. There's more usable living space than in other types of comparable boats, meaning that you'll be getting more bang for your buck. 

You can fit multiple levels of living space in a large trawler or tugboat, which allows you to have a more "normal" living experience. It's similar to a small house or a large apartment. 

You can fit full living rooms and bedrooms in the boat with ease as long as you pick the right size. 

These boats are expensive, but because they can give you the most realistic home experience, they may be worth it for families or households with several roommates. 


Houseboats are similar to trailers when it comes to their overall space and livability. They often only have one indoor room, but the room should be large enough to accommodate everything that one or two people would need to stay comfortable. 

Houseboats are more functional as homes than boats. While they can propel themselves and you're able to get out onto the water, you won't get the high speeds or sailing experience of conventional boats. 

This isn't a problem per se, but make sure that your needs align with a houseboat before you commit to it. 


Yachts are inherently glamorous, but are they good to live on?

Depending on the size of your yacht, you can feel more than comfortable living on it full-time. Yachts can have running water, luxury amenities, and plenty of room to stretch your legs.

That said, a glamorous yacht is going to come at a glamorous price point. This isn't an option for many first-time boat owners. 


Many people think that sailboats are out of style, but they can make great homes if you choose the right one. 

When it comes to affordability, you can't beat a sailboat. You can have plenty of room for a relatively low cost (though you're exchanging that room for functionality). 

Sailboats don't often have hot water and you may find it difficult to find one with showers or space for appliances. Again, this is something that you'll have to give up in exchange for lower costs.

Sailboats are great for seasoned boaters who live alone and love to spend time on the sea. For people seeking a more "casual" boat living experience, you may want to choose a different option. 

Floating Homes

Floating homes are the closest to "conventional" homes, and some boaters may not consider them boats at all. That said, they still dock at marinas or private docks. They're just unable to move once they're there.

They're built on sturdy foundations like "real" homes. They're large enough for entire families to get that "on the water" experience without having to sacrifice any comfort or general livability. 

A floating home won't allow you to spend days out on the water. You'll have awesome views of the water and a unique living experience, but if you're a boat lover, you'll still need a "conventional" boat. 

Living Aboard: Safety Considerations 

Let's talk about safety.

When you live on a boat, it's easy to forget conventional boating safety suggestions. You get so used to the boat being part of your day-to-day life that safety takes a back burner. 

Boating safety is extra important if you're living on a boat with young children. While children don't have to be in life jackets when you're docked, you still need to make sure that they're always under adult supervision. 

Make sure to be careful when you're approaching and leaving your boat home when the docks are slippery. 

You're going to have to use proper fuel storage methods. Your fuel is a fire hazard, and when you live in your boat, this is a serious danger. 

If you don't already know how to securely stake or anchor a boat, now is the time to learn. You can't afford to let your boat drift away when you live on it. 

Are You Interested in Living on a Boat Full-Time?

Living on a boat full-time is a huge commitment, but for anyone who loves getting out onto the water, it might be a perfect choice. Start talking to the other members of your household about your desire to live in a boat full-time.

Remember, you need to keep your budget, personal needs, and safety in mind when you're making this decision. Living on a boat is a lot of fun, but it's not simple!

Are you ready to get out onto the water? At Freedom Boat Club, we want to help everyone enjoy their boating dreams. Contact us or join today to learn what we can do for you.