I'm new to this forum but certainly not new to the concept
that you are anticipating.
In '84, my wife and I did exactly what you are contemplating. We purchased our 1st "Live-aboard" sailboat. However, things didn't go exactly as planned. As you are planning, we planned to work for a few years and save some $ to go cruising. It just simply didn't work out that way because living aboard
in the US is far more expensive than one might anticipate.
Your main concern seems to be the depriciation of the vessel. This is a valid concern but I will submit to you that keeping the vessel in pristene condition can be far more expensive than the depriciation that you are concerned with (even if you provide most of the labor). Then there is slip fees
and the convenience matters.
The other thing that you may not be very realistic about is the usage of the vessel. It has been my experience that most live-aboards seldom move their vessel. It is no easy chore to change from everyday living aboard
to sailing mode. It is a task that tends to tire easily.
We soon realised all of these things and found that we could go cruising and spend far less then staying in the US. We ended up cruising for 14 years before selling our boat and moving ashore, upon returning to the US.
Living aboard has a romantic alure about it but when work-a-day life accompanies living aboard, it can be challenging. Myself, I would recommend renting
an apartment somewhere and saving every penny until you can achieve your desired goal. If you want to go sailing, charter
a boat. It's far
less costly than owning.
a home these days is risky business and over the next few years (until the realestate market settles) you could lose more equity than you would if you just rented. Owning a vessel to stay at home and live aboard gives you about the same $ prospect.
I would never recommend to anyone to live-aboard in the US for the sake of "Cheap living". If one wants to do it just because they love to be close to the sea and enjoy that life-style, that's a different issue. Just don't kid yourself into thinking that it will be cheap
In the 14 years of cruising, we spent just over $115,000 in boat up-keep (avg $8200 per year). That included 3 major refits in those years and 1 new set of sails
(custom made in So Africa). We had a Passport 45 Ketch
and I think that most of the $ spent was rather routine and it would have been little less if we would have been stationary. I did ALL
labor myself. It is not the miles that causes wear & tear on a sailboat (for the most part), it is the environment
. The ocean environment
changes little from country to country. Ocean passages do very little to maintenance
, unless something breaks. I never had anything break, in all those years and 80,000 miles of sailing.
Even if you figure $5K per year in up-keep and $600 per month in slip fees
, you are looking at over $1K per month + depriciation, insurance
and usage costs. It is not a "Cheap" way of life, as some assume.
I would recommend a Peterson
44, (if you want a recommendation). My Passport 45 was nothing more than an upscale version of the Peterson
44, with a little different deck
I did a lot of boat deliveries between New Zealand
and the SoPac Islands. I sailed a lot of different boats in some pretty extreme conditions. I found that hull
design to be the most comfortable and sea worthy. The Passport 45 is very hard to find but the Peterson 44 is easy to find and hold their value well. Some of the boats that you mentioned, I would stay away from. You can pick them up cheap
but they each have their inherent problems.
Another vessel that I like (as a live-aboard) is a Cal
45 Pilot House. That boat has an amazing amount of room. It has lots of port lights and is airy and open. The down-side is, I wouldn't want to be in one in a severe storm. I don't like big windows in heavy seas. However, for what you desire, it would be ideal. It also holds it's resale value well. I have a friend that circumnavigated (single-handed) in one and he absolutely loved that boat.
Remember, the bigger the boat, the easier it is to handle (contrary to logic) however the upkeep costs can get staggering over 50'.
Good luck with your quest.