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Old 11-08-2009, 12:09   #1
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Sooner or Later?

I love the idea of living aboard but am quite young with little money. What I wonder is if, with my limited funds, it makes sense to buy a smaller boat(25-27ft range) to live aboard to start with or to save up lots and do it in the future with a bigger and better boat.

I suppose my worry is that if I started with a small, cheaper boat, I wouldn't be able to fill up my "bigger, better, next boat" kitty as I'd be spending that money on maintaining my own boat.

How do/did those who've lived aboard on smaller boats find it? did you find you were stuck to your first boat or was it not so much trouble transitioning to a bigger boat? Or perhaps you like your smaller boat so much that transitioning to a bigger boat is unthinkable?

I'm happily single, so I think living on a smaller boat would be fine, but things might change in the future or I might find it too confining for very long term, so I'm interested to know others experiences.

thanks in advance
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Old 11-08-2009, 12:54   #2
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I love the idea of living aboard but am quite young with little money. What I wonder is if, with my limited funds, it makes sense to buy a smaller boat(25-27ft range) to live aboard to start with or to save up lots and do it in the future with a bigger and better boat.

I suppose my worry is that if I started with a small, cheaper boat, I wouldn't be able to fill up my "bigger, better, next boat" kitty as I'd be spending that money on maintaining my own boat.
You'll be able to save for the bigger, better, next boat forever -- long past the point where you will actually be able to go anywhere. It really is more of a statement about yourself. Risk and go with little with (a possibly foolish) faith things will work themselves out for the best. Alternately, you can work and save, hoping (perhaps foolishly) to acquire a least a moderate deal of wealth and not to get sucked into a middle class morass forever.

Living on a boat has its challanges too, not the least of which is the weather and space. On the other hand, if goal is just to sail but not really go anywhere for any legnth of time, join a club. You'll find it costs less and you'll meet a bunch of like minded folks.

Not sure that really helps ...
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Old 11-08-2009, 13:03   #3
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I think all you can practically do is set a budget and a timeframe. Then take the plunge. One advantage you have is less "stuff" to divest yourself of, in order to fit into your new home. Good luck!
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Old 11-08-2009, 13:36   #4
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if you are handy you can buy a boat with some small issues, ones that you can handle yourself and not pay to have them done buy someone else and look at your first boat as an investment.
take me for example the boat i really want is gonna at least cost me 30,000$ a formosa 41'. and that's just the very least.
Now the way i am approaching it is i bought a WD Schock 23' for 1000$ and am having it trailered up here for 500$, its a small boat that you can live aboard, however my husband an i will not be living on it but it is a doable size if you wish to live on it.
It is in less than perfect shape, but all the work is cosmetic. It floats just fine!! needs sails and an outboard moter. but al in all I have done my research and have see these same boats listed between 5,000$ and 15,500$. With the work i put into it and the enjoyment i get from learning how to sail on it, i see that as a huge GIANT step toward my ultimate dream.
After i sell it at aprox. 10,000 I hope to buy another stepping stone boat.
So maybe try to find a boat that needs some work, but within reason, cause boats can be a hole in which you throw your hard earned money into. I guess you just need to be careful.
And once the work is finished try to sell her for a profit!!
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Old 11-08-2009, 13:49   #5
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I just bought my first boat. It's a 27' that hasn't moved in around 10 years, but is more or less complete with a good hull. It just needs some TLC and some ingenuity to get it back up to par. Old sailboats under 30' seem to be a dime a dozen around here in Texas. We paid $1,000 cash for it. We've spent three weekends scrubbing, gutting and rewiring. In another three as we get the access panels and cushions made and reinstalled, someone could happily live aboard it. At that point, we'll have right around $2,000 invested. The 6-month contract live-aboard slip fee at our marina is $210 a month plus your metered electricity.

Now, if you don't want the boat to move, I don't know how you couldn't save money living at that price.

However, by the time we get the Westerbeke working, the rigging redone, and add a few goodies, I'm going to guess our total investment is going to be closer to $5,000. Then there's a bottom job in the spring, etc.

Still, the last apartment I lived in before I bought my house was $850 a month.

Could I ever sell the house and live aboard this boat? No way. I barely have enough space for all my junk in a four bedroom house. I'm used to having a well-tooled garage workshop. I like being able to put my dog in the backyard when she's getting on my nerves. I'd have an hour-and-a-half commute to the office.

If you're young and aren't owned by your junk and your debt, I'd say do it now. Otherwise, it may never happen.
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Old 11-08-2009, 14:30   #6
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I moved aboard a smaller boat at the age of 23 with plans to save for someting "bigger and better". One of the reasons that I was able to move to better boats was because I was living aboard with less expense than my friends who were ashore. I've stayed with sound and seaworthy vessels, but also with older practical boats without a lot of glitz. I've done well, as anyone would, by living beneath my income. It's been an advantage for me to have never collected the debris that comes with living in a house. 'living aboard since '72, Aythya crew
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Old 11-08-2009, 15:09   #7
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Assuming that live aboard means living aboard and actually going places: ie. cruising vs. living on a boat and doing some daysailing and weekending now and then; I think the consensus is: Go Now - or at least sooner.

FWIW when I was 28 I got divorced and bought an old 27' sailboat. I spent 4 months living on it and cruising around New England. I thought about heading south, but some fool offered me a job, and being an even bigger fool, I took it. Got married again, had kids, and 23 years later my wife and I finally went cruising. Had a blast on a bigger better boat, but we should have done it sooner.

If you’re young, strong and single, most 27 footers (in Good Condition) are fine for coastal cruising/island hopping. One caution: you will find plenty of girls who would love to spend a day or two with you on your 27 footer. None of them want to live on it with you.

Cruising is dominated by baby boomers - we’re old; we’re set in our ways; and we demand creature comforts that aren’t that important to young people. But, the best advice is Go Simple, Go Slow, and GO NOW. The Quinns explain it best:

http://www.boatus.com/cruising/littlegidding/200608_24.asp
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Old 11-08-2009, 16:05   #8
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I didn't read the rest of the replies, so forgive me if anyone else has already mentioned this: If you're living aboard, chances are much better that you will find someone who shares your interest in the lifestyle. And if you choose to get a "starter" boat, you can still put lots of money away for the dream boat later if you're willing to truly commit to the lifestyle - meaning avoid some of the trappings of the land-based life that traps most of us: cars, "stuff", house/condo etc etc etc.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:39   #9
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I'm writing this from a 25 footer with a bit more cash in the bank today than I had before I bought the boat and moved aboard a little over a year ago. When I sell her to upgrade, I might come out a little ahead... maybe a little behind, so it hasn't proven to be a financially unsound decision... and probably won't unless there's a freak problem and I come back to a mast sticking out of the water.

One reason I'm glad I started small is that I have a much better idea of exactly what I like and don't like for the next purchase. If I tried to buy the dream straight out of the gate I'd have been shooting in the dark.

If you really want to live the lifestyle, do it. The number of days I walk around with a big stupid grin on my face far outweigh the moments I question my decision.
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Old 12-08-2009, 03:42   #10
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Thank you all so much. Your answers have been really great. Definitely seems that the consensus is sooner rather than later. I think the advice on setting a time and budget is good. Then I can't keep expanding as I think of more "stuff" that I would want on my boat. As it is, I'm not very burdened at all, and am currently mostly living in a 16ft caravan(travel trailer) so I know that a smaller space isn't too confining for me.

One thing I have to note is that it seems prices are a lot better on the other side of the pond. A slip in a marina here for a 27ft boat seems to cost about the same or considerably more than a small flat on land does but perhaps I just haven't found the good deals.

Thanks again, lots to consider still but you've made me feel better about small and soon.
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Old 12-08-2009, 17:16   #11
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One thing I have to note is that it seems prices are a lot better on the other side of the pond. A slip in a marina here for a 27ft boat seems to cost about the same or considerably more than a small flat on land does but perhaps I just haven't found the good deals.
Oh yeah, absolutely. But I think the slip price is a function of available shore line and boat price ... well, I don't really know. But have seen some boat that utter rubbish over there going for much, much more than they would over here.

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Thanks again, lots to consider still but you've made me feel better about small and soon.
Hey, no worries. But while you're feeling good about this, I suppose somone should point out that asking bunch of cruisers if you live on a boat is a bit like asking a bunch of organic gardeners if you should plant your own gardern.
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Old 12-08-2009, 17:37   #12
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A slip in a marina here for a 27ft boat seems to cost about the same or considerably more than a small flat on land does but perhaps I just haven't found the good deals.
If you can find a way to get to the Bahamas/Caribbean, you will find that most cruisers spend very little time in marina slips. Free anchoring is what makes it affordable for most people.
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Old 12-08-2009, 22:53   #13
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I love the idea of living aboard but am quite young with little money. <snip>

I suppose my worry is that if I started with a small, cheaper boat, I wouldn't be able to fill up my "bigger, better, next boat" kitty as I'd be spending that money on maintaining my own boat.

<snip>
I'm happily single, so I think living on a smaller boat would be fine, but things might change in the future or I might find it too confining for very long term, so I'm interested to know others experiences.
Young is for adventure. You will never know unless you try. As others have said you could plan your whole life waiting for the right time, the right money and the right opportunity. It's amazing once you start down the "traditional" path of job, family and "stuff" how tangled up you get.

As regards to "things might change" and if you mean in the love department. Living aboard you are more likely to meet a nautical partner than you would ashore.

Good luck in whatever you decide and it seems the key is to balance what it costs to live ashore and save vs. what it costs to live on a boat and save.

One thing for sure. You can't drop the lines on a flat every friday night and go sailing in it.
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