Living on a Boat Full-Time

Should We Live on a Boat Full-Time?

This is a question we’ve considered in the past but didn’t want to commit to it without testing the waters first. Now that we are four weeks out from living on a boat full-time for a month, it’s a good time to talk about what to expect when living on a boat. We should mention that we understand everyone’s experience may vary if/when they live on a boat. Not all boats are created equal, not everyone has the same lifestyle, and not everyone needs the same functionality from the boat. We also lived on the boat temporarily and rented the boat, so our experience is limited. That being said, after our experience, we still believe that it could be an option for us to live on a boat full-time. For reference, we stayed on a 37′ Carver built in 2004 in Newport Beach, CA on a business dock as opposed to a marina.

Tim and Kara with wine on the stern of the yacht

Inconvenient Aspects of Living on a Boat

If you choose to live on a boat, here is a list of things you are signing up for:

  • Using either the oven (that doesn’t fit a whole baking sheet) or the stove top (with 2 burners at most)
  • Being selective on which electronics you want to use at the same time
  • An iffy wifi hotspot that could get very expensive
  • A slightly wet bath towel at all times
  • Holding your low-pressure shower head or donning shower shoes in the marina restrooms
  • Wiping and throwing away if you do use the head
  • Dump station trips once a week
  • Having to use the marina/shipyard bathroom to lessen the amount of times going to the dump station
  • Refilling the water tank as soon as the level gets low (it’s a small tank)
  • Boat noises…IE, howling wind, bumping of boat to dock (with bumpers).
  • No storage space to think of
  • Being strategic about what you purchase
  • Tall people – duck

Most Enjoyable Aspects of Boat Life

If this all sounds bearable (as it was for us), then here’s what we found to be most enjoyable about boat life in a harbor:

  • The sounds of the water
  • The gentle rocking of the boat
  • The view outside
  • Easy to go Kayaking/Paddle Boarding
  • People-watching
  • Studies have shown that being near water has a calming effect on your mind and body (explained in more detail in this huffpost article).

We didn’t get to do this, but if we owned the boat, think it would be a big highlight:

  • Exploring the ocean
  • Experience new ports and meet new people

Logistics to Consider for Living on a Boat Full-Time

Granted, we only lived on the boat for a month and we were renters, so we didn’t have the full responsibility of being an owner; but Kara’s dad was an owner of a sailboat and lived on it full-time for 7+ years, so we know some things. If you are looking to own a boat, here is what you’ll have to think about:

  • Dock/Slip Fees
  • Filing for live-aboard status
  • Paying for a Parking Permit and thinking about guest fees
  • All the upkeep and maintenance
  • Cleaning the bottom of the boat (the hull) on a regular basis ~once a month
  • Navigating the waters
  • Operating the vessel and learning the terminology
  • Cost, costs, and more costs: Repairs? Get used to hearing “that’s on back order” or “that’ll be a thousand dollars” (B.O.A.T – break out another thousand).

We hope you found this helpful! If you are curious about boat-life, keep researching! There’s lots of information online. Perhaps read this beginner’s guide.

30 Second a Day Video of our Time Living on a Boat


  1. Helena Rogers says:

    I think you covered a lot of aspects about boat living, good and bad, and clearly identify it as a way of life.

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