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Old 06-06-2013, 18:36   #1
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Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

My wife keeps a firm eye on every penny in Quicken, but it's still taken us three years to get around to collating the actual costs of cruising with a family of 5 versus what we spent back on land. We have made 11,500 miles, and living expenses are $4,000 to $10,000 *less* per year to feed, cloth, and educate 3 growing kids on board than it cost back at home. Boat projects and maintenance, of course, add more.

Hope these details are helpful:

http://www.thenonconformist.com/cont...ing-costs.html
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Old 06-06-2013, 18:47   #2
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

So $3,000 to $4,000 a month average pinching pennies living on the boat.
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Old 06-06-2013, 19:06   #3
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

Yes, but you started with 6 children. You have been selling them off along the way!
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Old 06-06-2013, 19:07   #4
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

Something like that. It's interesting that our daily cost the first year was $148 and the second year was $98 even though our mileage covered was nearly identical (Carib --> Maine --> Carib) .

That's a pretty big drop, and partly was experience, knowing where to buy what (gas in the British islands, not the French for example) partly luck (we didn't hit a log the second year) and partly effort. Food dropped 20% the second year because we just tried harder to focus on buying bulk and eating less pre-packaged stuff. (Oatmeal instead of Cheerios).

It comes out to something like $1 = 15 minutes of cruising. So, a $1,000 optional expenditure costs you 8+ days of cruising at the end, roughly.

I think my wife and I alone could do the living costs a 60% or less of these numbers. The boat, however, really does take 10% a year. (I was sure that rule of thumb was overstating things, but it's actually very accurate. Even contributing my own labor, she really does need $20k a year to stay at a net baseline (some improvements, while everything else degrades X percent). This last year we spent less than that, but the loss was still there (anchor chains being eaten away, all canvas suffering in the UV, dingy slowly degrading, outboard getting rougher etc.) It would be possible to do a smash and grab on a boat, just do the minimal for a year or two and then try and turn around and sell the boat and move the maintenance cost to a capital loss at the end. But hey, I love my boat and like to buy her stuff and like to see her looking good.
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Old 06-06-2013, 19:09   #5
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

That is very cheap living. However the experience is priceless. In 30 - 40 years of cruising and traveling I have never met a kid that was not better served by living on a boat and or moving about the world meeting new people. "Teach your children well..." CSNY
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Old 06-06-2013, 19:30   #6
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

Thanks. That's really handy. Also promising. We started cruising recently and our budget is similar to yours.

We have a 3 yo with egg and nut allergies so we rarely eat out. We are finding it hard to spend money because not only do we have to walk to spend but we do not have room on our 34' (10' beam) boat to fit anything that is not absolutely essential.
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Old 06-06-2013, 19:32   #7
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

It's heartening to see that - with all the horror stories and things that get posted you can get yourself worrying about the small fortune you'll go through. The real concern for me and the family isn't so much how much we'll be spending as how we'll replenish the income when we're out there. Though apparently there's demand for gelcoat and fiberglass wizards around most of the popular cruising destinations, so I'm sure we can scrape by. *fingers crossed*
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Old 06-06-2013, 19:44   #8
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

There's a handful of Cruisers who have swallowed the hook in St. Maarten scratching out a living doing boat repair work, canvas work, engine work and the like.

I am sure Sea Life knows many of them and can attest to their inner fortitude. I used a number of them for various small projects on the general theory that cruisers ought to stick together. The work was great, but I got the impression that other than preventing starvation, it was tough to make much headway.

The reason these folks are in St Maarten, is that it's one of the few places that don't seem to enforce their work permit requirements too tightly. There are plenty of other places that would take a dim view to your entrepreneurial activities if you expand beyond word of mouth marketing. Sad but true.
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Old 06-06-2013, 19:49   #9
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

We made better then 30 yrs cruseing, 20 with 4 kids, Connie was and is a RN, Im a machinst, diesel mechanic, welder. We made enough money to do all that cruiseing by working ! Altho it was simpler back a few years ago as far as working your way ! Lot's of places now require ya to almost be a resident to work! So ya have to look things over real well before setting up a working thing !! Just sayin you might find some work but it's sure not the old days LOL But then these will be your old days in a few years !! So give it a go, and enjoy yourself ! We sure did
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Old 06-06-2013, 20:03   #10
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

Quote:
Originally Posted by petert View Post

I am sure Sea Life knows many of them and can attest to their inner fortitude. I used a number of them for various small projects on the general theory that cruisers ought to stick together. The work was great, but I got the impression that other than preventing starvation, it was tough to make much headway.
Arrrrr! Well, you chew into a can of worms there!
One of the reasons why I don't get involved in those threads about what jobs one can do whilst cruisng is that there are few that pay anything like a "normal" job at home.
It's well and good for people to say "go now!" However it can be much better to stay at home for a year or two and work hard in the normal job and save every cent.

Other points are underestimation of the necessary budget... Yours is about $50,000 in the first year... That's realistic... And I bet you didnt waste one solitary cent!
It will come down a little each year, and those boat expenses will come down a lot. But it's still far higher than the stupid threads about doing it for $12,000 per year (or half that).

The big bucks are made in the big jobs in the big cities of the big countires. The people working in St Martin, do, as you say, have fortitude. I wonder how many would turn their life "back" a bit to go home to their old job and save like a squirrel who knows winter will be cold?

The cruising part of cruisng is easy. It's the living a year with no pay packet that's a bugger.
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Old 06-06-2013, 20:22   #11
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

That (no re-occuring revenue plan) was certainly my biggest mistake. We made money hand over fist for a decade and today I don't have a clue where it all went. If I had just spent a 1/3 of it on a Four-plex in a questionable neighborhood we would be sitting pretty today instead of sweating every last penny.

I made the mistake of thinking, "All I need is one year out there, and the itch will be scratched." So guess what, our money lasted about a year, and then it was serious crunch time. But the lie was, 'one year will be enough'.

There is no greater deception than self deception.

The fact is, once you are over the hump of getting here, and getting through your first crazy 6 months when it feels like you have re-located to the moon, the last thing you want to do is go back to the rat race and submerge your family into the shallow glitter culture that wants to eat your daughters for Justin Biebers lunch.

Over Christmas, back at home, someone mention JB to my oldest daughter and she was like, "Who?" Exactly. She was proud of the fact that she engineered a way of dumping her dirty clothes into the hamper from her bed by pulling a series of strings.

The simple fact is that one year ain't nearly enough. When your doctor delivers the bad news, leave immediately. Otherwise, spend another few years to cement a re-occuring revenue plan into place, a car wash, a rental bungalow, something, anything that will pay you even a modest stream while you are away. After a few years, that will be a lifeline.
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Old 06-06-2013, 20:45   #12
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

Leverage your money. Put it to work. Money makes money. A good financial planner will pay in dividends. The subject here is financial planning so hire one who knows. Dave Ramsey is a great place to start when looking to find a planner.
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Old 06-06-2013, 20:49   #13
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

The medium family income in the USA is ~$50k a year,
after taxes maybe $36k, or $3,000/mo.
Can't imagine coming near that working part-time doing odd jobs from the boat.
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Old 06-06-2013, 20:52   #14
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

My wife, now ex-, was decidedly against investing in real estate. Nothing I could do (even though I did this professionally for others), no one I consulted, could talk her into agreement. That partly led to are ruin. More accurately it was just one more thing with her. Anyway, a lack of agreement is ruinous. To continue the status quo is ruinous. For something to change, something else must change.

Being an absentee owner carries high risk. One must tread carefully. Do not let the "shoulda, coulda, woulda" wishful sentiment interfere with reality.
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Old 06-06-2013, 21:04   #15
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Re: Actual Cruising Costs versus Life on Land

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Originally Posted by nimblemotors View Post
The medium family income in the USA is ~$50k a year,
after taxes maybe $36k, or $3,000/mo.
Can't imagine coming near that working part-time doing odd jobs from the boat.
But cost of living takes a plunge too. Therefore, a hard figure like $3K/mo actually carries a greater value when living aboard. The comparison is skewed.


Let's break it down. What % of that $3K is spent on clothing, medical, food, etc? I can tell ya the clothing budget drops significantly. The food budget may rise but by shopping smart and buying fresh, will effect a measurable decrease. Most land folks shop by a larger amount of indiscretion than is prudent. That ol "normalcy bias" rears it's head whereby the employed shop like there is no end.

Living in a 'closed system' which is living aboard causes one to question every purchase. Entertainment budget (aka, absolution of boredom of a humdrum life) drops to zero. Anyway, all in all, the total budget while living aboard is a factor of shifting priorities vis a vis to living aground.

Where I will straight out agree with you is a hard scrabble search for income is a poor way to prepare for large expenditures.
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