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Old 20-08-2007, 08:44   #1
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cost of full time cruising

Trying to get a handle on the cost of living aboard and cruising full time. I have my boat and it will be paid for by the time I leave. I plan on anchoring out as much as possible.

I realize that like most lifestyles what is spent has a lot to do with how minimalistic one wants to be. I don't want to live by pinching every penny. I guess my thought was that I'd watch my budget but want to be able to have enough money to enjoy the ports I visit. I plan on provisioning and eating on board most of the time.

I'd appreciate feedback from current full time cruisers.

Thanks!
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Old 20-08-2007, 08:50   #2
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$500/month PLUS:
- peace of mind (boat/health insurance etc)
- luxuries (touring, bar/restaurants, etc)
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Old 20-08-2007, 09:47   #3
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Only you can determine how much you'll spend cruising. There are too many variables. Much will depend on the condition of your boat and your lifestyle. Your boat is an older model and may require more repairs. Another variable is your cruising grounds. If you intend long passages, you may spend less as there's nothing like a month at sea to cut down on expenditures. Not having insurance saves (unless you have a major accident), no health insurance saves. I have met people that cruise on $5000 a month and I met a guy in BVI that cruises on $3000 a year in a Contessa 26. I guess the answer is to save as much as you can before your departure date.
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Old 20-08-2007, 13:15   #4
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As you are obviously aware, there is an amazing variety of cruising life styles and these variations very much determine your ultimate expenses. Saying that you want to anchor, but want to enjoy the ports you visit and don't want to pinch every penny doesn’t narrow it down very much. While I maintain there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ cruiser, it is probably fair to say that most cruisers are baby boomer couples; they anchor out; but they like more self sufficiency and comfort than was common 20 years ago. If you are a couple, I think it is also probably fair to say that the biggest single reason that people abandon cruising is that it turned out not to be fun to cruise on the particular boat or with the particular budget that they chose to do it on. If you are a single hander, you have more control over your personal wants/needs/expectations. It also makes a difference where you do this - eg. by all accounts the Med is more expensive than the Caribbean.

If you do not eat out (and especially, ‘drink’ out) a lot, don’t take expensive inland excursions, don’t fly ‘home’, etc., it is possible to anchor out and live quite frugally. Probably your biggest expense would be boat repair/maintenance. Unfortunately, this is often unpredictable. Also for example, for some people replacing the refrigeration system is an emergency boat repair/maintenance expense; for others this may be a non-issue. Furthermore, even these expenses depend on your cruising plans - eg. If you’re cruising for just a year or two, you might not replace the standing rigging and you’d probably keep patching the old dingy instead of replacing it; if you’re cruising indefinitely, you view these things differently. Also, cruisers have an odd view of repair/maintenance - eg. "I replaced the alternator, and it didn’t cost me anything because I had a spare." The more spares, repair materials, tools, etc. you bring with you, the lower your monthly expenses ‘appear’ to be.

Here's an interesting article on cruising budgets together with a spread sheet showing the actual expenses for six very different cruisers:

cw_stories_9
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Old 20-08-2007, 15:39   #5
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Jeff, is that you? How is WVU going to do this year?
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Old 23-08-2007, 21:50   #6
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I like your signature Maddog, is that referring to owning a boat??

I can't say first hand about liveaboard costs but I have known many people and I have done extensive research on both land and water. Most people automatically assume that living onboard is so much more expensive to live then on land. From my many years of speaking to everyone I could and from seeing it for myself here is what I've concluded:

I believe that you need to compare apples to apples. Meaning, if you plan on buying a $500K boat then let's compare it with a $500K house with some land. I've read here on these forums that someone was stating that everything is sooo much more expensive for food at the marine store if they even have it.. I can do the same comparison if you live near the city and the closest and only store is something like a 7-11. Everything in that store is 3 - 5 times as much and the selection is non-existant.

Some people state that you are constantly doing repairs and maintenance on their boats that are costly. Everyone and I mean everyone that I know that owns their own home, spend their entire weekend from saturday morning to sunday night, doing home repairs, maintenance and beautification. And when things do go wrong, wiring, heater, plumbing, etc. You may have to knock down walls to get to the wiring or plumbing or whatever. At least in a boat, everything is accessible, or should be by removing the floor panets or whatever.

With a home you have to constantly pay property tax, under constant eyes of the local council and can't do anything to your home if you wanted to without jumping through hoops. And now, there is always the constant threat of the government taking your land from you for various unexplainable reasons. Same thing with home repairs with vendors and contractors. They can rip you off as easily as any marine contractor.

My view is that when comparing actual equally valued home/boat, still believe that you have much more freedoms and cost savings overall then owning a house. I hope that other people who have first hand experience with owning their home and then totally selling it to own a boat of equal value can give me/us their experiences and comparisons.

As stated, I am still in the process of researching the right boat for us, so this is what I've gathered from many years of friends and colleagues that have done it or have just spoken to full time cruisers. Again, just my opinion. Please inform me on where I may be wrong or how far off the mark I may be..

Cheers
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Old 23-08-2007, 23:52   #7
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Some of the things you are talking about are real "what if" situations. Off the top of my head here is how I would look at it.

Food & Beverage - What do you spend now? I don't see this drastically changing by moving on a boat. You may eat out a bit more but you won't have to. You may be challenged on how close you are to "cheaper" grocery stores. However you may cruise in places where fresh food from the locals is pretty cheap. - I'd say you are going to spend what you spent ashore, maybe a tad more.

Housing - Your boat is your house. You will have to pay the boat note (if any) mooring and docking fees. It's pretty well accepted that you stay off the beaten track and you pay less here.

Medical / Dental etc - No reason for this to change.

Repairs - A bad boat will cost a lot. A good boat will cost a little. The previous owner of our little boat gave us records proving about $400USD per month to maintain our boat. This is all up and included things like sails and a downed mast and covered 6 years of ownership. We are finding a similar thing.

Entertainment - This is the big variable. Stay tied up at a marina and hit the bar every night and you'll spend like the drunken sailor you are. Keep it on the hook away from land based distractions and you'll save more.

If you read many blogs you will find the ones where people document their living costs. However, it's all over the map and based on lifestyle and desires and not just the boat. Although I would say you could get a pretty good idea of the "fixed" costs ahead of time and that would be highly dependent on the boat and cruising lifestyle.
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Old 23-08-2007, 23:59   #8
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Thanks EX,

I totally agree and thank you for your input. My variables were based on the total average over a span of a year. I do realise that some weeks nothing is spent on the house and then BANG, the roof needs repair or the pipes burst, etc.. Same thing with a boat that I've witnessed, nothing for a while except for the usual preventative stuff and then BANG, something..

I guess if you want to also add that people may also need to have cars and those insurances, etc.. I mean, the list can go on forever with every bit of variable. But, I was just trying to crunch some numbers after hearing people just state plainly that living on a boat is a constant fortune!!! But they never give me any real examples or proof of comparisons. Just an outright statement!!

My only reasoning is that you can make anything as expensive as you want or as cheap as you want.. As nicely outlined by the link that slomotion provided.

Thanks again for your input Ex, Cheers.
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Old 24-08-2007, 05:57   #9
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People have given great input here. So, I won't restate what has been said. I will, however add this little tidbit from my experienc:

Crusing and living aboad costs:


"MORE THAN YOU THINK"
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Old 24-08-2007, 06:14   #10
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Food may be more expensive, but your cooking is less elaborate on board and you don't have a galley full of gadgets to make all sorts of culinery delights. You tend to prepare simply meals and they will cost lest... both in food and gizmos.

If you life in the tropics you clothing budget is close to nada. I had not a suit, no socks, a few pairs of deck shoes... shorts and T shirts and I was perfectly well dressed for THAT enviroment.

Also all the expensive salons and so forth won't be there... you might be getting someone to do your coif for a lot less than on Main Street.

Your actual transportation costs on land will most likely be very much less than maintaining a private car... even if you do take a taxi it is way less expensive... than a car year round. Get some folding bikes and get the health benefits while you go somewhere on land.

All the costs assoiated with maintining a yard, a house or an apartment are gone and reduced to cleaning and cosmetic work on a boat.

No rent... you anchor. There are crusing fees.. and you do have to pay for water... but you learn to use less and still live well and stay clean.

Unless you are cruising NYC or London, forget about expensive entertainment tix and so forth... get used to CDs and rental DVDs, local live music and so forth.

It's different and a lot cheaper, but it always costs more than you think and there will always be that unforeseen expense to broadside you... like delivery of a some part from the States.

It's a different lifestyle and it is a cheaper one for the most part. And if you don't like the scenery... you can move and don't need to call Allied Van Lines and spent $10,000. In fact moving on your own is what it's about... ain't it?

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Old 24-08-2007, 10:22   #11
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I simply assume I'll spend the value of the vessel I'm sailing in per year or the amount I spend on land now whichever is higher. Every one of the variables mentioned previously can be associated with a value so just look them up and guess high. Too much in expenses? Look how to cut cost by how you live now, not how you think cruising will save you money. Too much income? Bank it after upgrading all systems and buying spare system parts. Your lifestyle is not going to change unless you do. Dine out at four star restaurants or movies every night? Park in a garage and let some mechanic do the work?

Do you want to move your current life on the water or live the sailing life?

There are a lot of unexplored ways to save and make money while cruising, just as on land. The lifestyle is always how you want it to be. It's the length of time you can support it that's the variable only you can answer.

I plan on $27,000 per annum with three years banked. I'm researching systems that are minimalist in nature such as solar cooking, solar water purification and rain catchment, solar and wind generation systems that I can and will build and repair myself, hydroponics, biodiesel setup at the center of my area and a partner to run it. I have hundreds of pdf manuals on mechanical, electrical, chemical, solar/wind power, building a furnace, forge to repair and make parts. I'll sail an odd looking vessel that is as self sufficient as I can make it. I'll sail.
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Old 24-08-2007, 17:19   #12
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Thanks for the additional information!! What you are doing sounds great cjbeals! I'm definitely not that hardcore but I totally respect and admire people who are!! I totally agree with the $27,000 per annum amount. I do believe that this would provide a decent comfort zone to maintain a certain lifestyle.

Thanks again for everyone's input.
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Old 24-08-2007, 17:43   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by defjef
Food may be more expensive, but your cooking is less elaborate on board and you don't have a galley full of gadgets to make all sorts of culinery delights. You tend to prepare simply meals and they will cost lest... both in food and gizmos.
I think this is a big deal. With limited space you would have to think hard before buying something to bring aboard. I have 4 computers in the house that tend to get replaced on a 3 year rotation, 3 televisions that I think would be nice if they were LCD.

Don't even ask about all the "crap" in the kitchen. Cuisinarts, waffle irons, a capucino machine that was used, like twice. Oh and we have everyday dishes, sorta nice dishes and then fancy dishes. Not to mention the Christmas theme dishes and the Thanksgiving theme dishes.

And the admiral's Imeldaesque collection of shoes...

Ok I'll stop here....
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Old 24-08-2007, 18:44   #14
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Hahhahahahaha

Wife pulled out some sort of food processor she bought last century and finally used for the first time. Was stored somewhere in a huge carton. You're just not gonna have all this rubbish on a small sailing yacht.

Basically you take the minimal amount of stuff and find things which can serve multiple functions... U use my awl for an ice pick.... hmm when do I use an ice pick? hahahha

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Old 25-08-2007, 05:59   #15
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Well........ we left 1 year ago from Canada, sold everything, arrived Virgin Islands Nov 06, so we know. Putting boat repairs aside because every boat is different, we live like kings for $1,500 per month. Compared to Canada everything is way cheaper (excluding the Bahamas) in the rest of the islands. Food is about the same price maybe a litle more. The trick is don't try and eat/buy what your use to, buy whats more local. In Canada a 60 oz of rum is $50, we buy 3 x 60 oz for $18. Our favorite wine inCanada is $24 a bottle, in the islands $8. Diesel was $4 per gallon, in the islands $2.75. Also no taxes in many islands and we were use to paying 15% sales tax.
We have been back in Canada for the summer, we were SHOCKED at how much more $ we had to shell out, for everything.
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