With sky-high rents and rising mortgage interest rates nation-wide, the struggle for reasonable housing is real!
Like other renters and property owners who are desperate to find affordable housing, I searched for different ways of living (and even considered a tiny house).
But when my lease expired and I desperately needed a roof over my head, I thought of my sailboat—a good old Hunter 27—and considered the liveaboard lifestyle.
My boat was not quite equipped for living aboard, so I had to consider how to make a boat function as a home. Plus, my friends and family denied the possibility. I kept hearing responses like, “You can’t live on a boat—there isn’t an oven!” and “but how will you do laundry?” Despite their concerns, I was persistent and researched how to convert my boat into a home.
As it turns out, between your personal boat and marina community—you can have all the creature comforts you need! Laundry facilities, hot showers, Wi-Fi internet, ovens, televisions and even luxurious wine fridges and bidets. Pretty much anything you might want, you can find a way to have it on your boat!
Once you have all the amenities, you’ll find that living on a boat is a truly enjoyable, convenient and liberating way to live.
10 Reasons Why Living on a Boat Beats Living on Land
There are both joys and hard realities of the liveaboard lifestyle.
You have to compromise on some aspects and be prepared.
As for me, I’m quite happy with the choice I made to convert my Hunter 27 into a liveaboard. Here’s why I prefer living on my boat.
1. Move Anywhere, Anytime
Moving a boat literally might be as simple as finding a breeze if you’ve got a sailboat! If not, power it up, turn the key and you’re off. I love knowing I can live anywhere in the world in my floating home without packing or calling a mover.
There’s a variety of liveaboard anchorages within the United States and even places in the British Virgin Islands.
2. Be Free from the Worries of Home Ownership and Zoning Regulations
When I investigated building a tiny house, I was put off by the inflexibility of parking spaces due to zoning regulations. What’s amazing about the sailboat is that I can take my floating home to a marina, mooring, dock or easily drop anchor nearly anywhere off the coast. The options where you can live on a boat are practically endless!
3. Enjoy Cheap Waterfront Property
How many houses boast a waterfront view like that of marinas? Not many. On a boat, wherever you go, you’ll be sitting on prime waterfront property. There’s nothing quite as beautiful as waking up to sunrises and stepping out onto a deck surrounded by glistening water. Now that’s luxury!
4. Become Part of a Supportive Community
The boating community is tight and supportive. Need help troubleshooting your engine? There’s a marina full of fellow boaters willing to lend a hand. Liveaboards are your next door neighbors and there to help you make the transition. They’ll offer guidance and help plan for projects like installing solar panels, fridge setups and boat storage solutions.
Tip: My solar panels are Renogy 400 Watt 102 Volt Monocrystalline Solar Starter Kit (Available on Amazon), which is powerful during cloudy days. I also own a Rig Rite Manufacturing 1200 Marine Storage Net (Available on Amazon), which comes in handy to keep gear and items from blowing away.
In short, you’ll gain a ton of free knowledge from fellow boaters. That’s just the boater’s way! Not to mention there are plenty of online resources for transitioning to life aboard. It’s like having a huge network of knowledgeable, helpful neighbors to help you in your time of need.
5. Replace or Repair Specialty Parts Easily
Need to repair or replace something on your boat? Not a problem!
If you keep boat tools onboard and know how to fix issues yourself, you can find the parts you need at local boat stores or even on Craigslist. There are also amazing salvage yards where you can get what you need for cheap (and I always drive a hard bargain).
Everything you need to live aboard comfortably, from custom cushions to workable kitchens, is within reach. Besides, there’s a lot you can DIY safely!
6. Boat Interiors Are Designed for Movement
When I initially looked into tiny house living, I began to wonder, how would frequent movement impact delicate things like stacks of plates in the cabinets? Tiny houses may be designed for moving, as they are on trailers, but they’re not designed for movement. Most interiors would require a lot of battening down before you could hit the road.
Boats, on the other hand, have custom cabinetry and a layout designed for movement. I feel confident knowing I can take off at a moment’s notice in the Hunter 27 and not have to worry about my stuff crashing all around. Even when the seas get rough, there are cool gadgets like lee cloths and stove gimbals (Available on Amazon) to keep everything in its place. Living on a boat is true freedom of movement!
7. Easily Connect with Nature
I never feel closer to mother nature than I do on my sailboat. Exploring rivers, oceans, and islands is as simple as the turn of a key. You will see wildlife all around you—birds, mussels, fish, seals, maybe even dolphins (depending on where you are). Seals are my personal favorite to spot in coastal Maine, and I’ve seen as many as nine on one short sail. Nature is all around the boat, and I love it!
Also, if you’ve never slept on your boat, you are totally missing out! There’s something special about getting rocked to sleep by the ocean’s waves and waking up to the smell of salt water. Doesn’t get much more connected to nature than that.
8. Outdoor Living Space Is Plentiful
Forget about backyards and decks—the boat is where it’s at!
Enjoy ample outdoor living space on benches with weatherproof cushions, bow seats, big decks, swim platforms (Available on Amazon) and local docks. Anchor by an island and your backyard just got a lot more adventurous! I plan on expanding outdoor living space even more by getting a bosun’s chair (Available on Amazon) so I can climb the length of my boat’s mast and take in the great outdoors from unbelievable heights.
9. Your Friends Will Actually Want to Visit
Everyone I talk to about living on the boat assumes my social life will tank because of tight entertainment space on a tiny boat. They couldn’t be more wrong—my calendar is already booked for the summer!
Boats are floating party paradises and always where people wanna hang out! Invite friends over for a dinner on your boat’s deck, watching the sunset over the water with a beer in a nearby cupholder (Available on Amazon), and you’ll be taking reservations. You won’t have to worry about losing your social life if you become a liveaboard. Friends are always visiting my boat. In fact, I can barely keep them away!
10. Boating Is Not a Fad
Unlike tiny homes, boating is not a fad. There will always be people boating and living aboard their boats. Boats have been around since 4000 BCE and they’re not going anywhere fast.
Want to upgrade? You can easily find a new floating home with more bells and whistles. Want to give up the liveaboard life altogether? You can quickly sell your boat by word of mouth at a marina, Craigslist, or by using one of the various websites to buy and sell boats. You won’t have to deal with breaking a lease, hiring a realtor, or expensive moving costs.
Ready to live on a boat?
See if the liveaboard boat lifestyle’s for you by spending a week or even just a long weekend on a boat. What do you love about it? What would you like to change? What could make it feel more like home?
Ask yourself these questions and you’ll be able to start crafting a vision for your perfect floating home!
Danielle Strandson is a writer in Portland, Maine who enjoys cruising around Casco Bay with her partner in their Hunter 27 sailboat. After living inland for most of her life, there’s no place she’d rather be than on the ocean. Danielle is currently working on training the ultimate boating companion—a Goldendoodle named Nori!