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Old 15-04-2011, 10:56   #1
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30'-34' Sailboat vs. House : If You Could Only Buy One

Hi all! How's everyone doing? I'm about to ship off to college here for my final year and a half of my double majors (bio/history).

Now, I've been trolling and lightly posting here for a while and weighing my options. Essentially my predicament is thus:

I want a house (a base of operations) but I hate feeling tied down and I fear that a house would be a major tie down. Alternatively, I really would like to find a boat and live aboard, while learning to sail properly. This boat would be kept in place of a traditional house.

All research points to a 30' -> 34' sail boat to use as a live aboard. I do have a dog, so I have to get something big enough the dog won't go psychotic three days into any adventure she and I venture out on. I don't want this to turn into a political thread, but some of the recent political discrepancies have also encouraged some further thinking.

I realize this quandary may have been engaged many times and I apologize, but I'd appreciate some more mature opinions .
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Old 15-04-2011, 11:00   #2
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

Having a lland base is nice, but if I can only have one, it's a boat. You cann pack up, and leave if you don't like the neighborhood if you have a good boat...........i2f
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Old 15-04-2011, 11:02   #3
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

You don't mention in this post where you're located, but in general and in most markets, home sales are down and very good deals can be had. But same for boats.

If you're going to leave the area where you're going to school after graduation then there is less long term benefit to a house.

Depending on where you are cost for a place to dock the boat can be as much as monthly house payments. Some areas have restrictions on liveaboards and pets.

Have you ever lived on a boat or similar small space for any period of time? If not, are you sure you can adapt to the space limitations?

How large is your dog?
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Old 15-04-2011, 11:11   #4
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

I live in Michigan, near Kalamazoo. School is in the UP, at Sault Sainte Marie, MI which is pretty much the northeastern most city in Michigan. I plan on living in an apartment or on campus through the rest of school and then travel to the eastern seaboard to find my floating home.

The housing situation around here is pretty much once you buy it, you're stuck with it... I have no intention of staying in Michigan, as great of a state as it is, but there's just no good work here, I am funding all of this through sparse online work. There are a lot of homes in foreclosure around here (especially on the east side!!), but the majority of those homes would require 4x their purchase price in rehabbing, as handy as I am, it'd be cheaper to buy land and build a house from scratch. OR I could buy a decent boat and fix it up before taking off.

I have lived in a tent for a month as I went through Mexico, it was pretty fun. I don't really have a lot of stuff otherwise. The biggest items I have are computer speakers and a car... plus a bunch of amateur radio gear, which would go with me in any case.

My dog is a black lab. She'll be fair sized when she's older but right now she's a lil' puppy!
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Old 15-04-2011, 11:26   #5
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

We've been living on our Gemini 105Mc catamaran it's 38 ft with the dingy davit and fits in a 40 ft std slip, it has 3 staterooms and room for your dog. I would recomend an enclosed cockpit in northern locations like where were at on the Columbia river it gets down to 5 F below and we stayed warm all winter and were able to use the enclosed cockpit all winter. Our slip is only $151.31 a month but no pumpout for the boat untill April.
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Old 15-04-2011, 11:31   #6
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

I have a couple thoughts on your proposal:

You would want to confirm that the marina were you would keep your boat would accept livaboards over winter. Some marinas in my area charge a premium for that privilege.

Also, I suspect it may not be too comfortable in the winter and if there isn't a good livaboard community you might find it to be a challenging if not isolated experience.

Remember, in the winter you have other concerns, such as keeping your bubbler running to ensure your boat is not locked in ice, emptying your holding tank and where to get a shower not to mention keeping your heater going.

It wouldn't be for me but you may be more hardy than I am so all the power to ya!
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Old 15-04-2011, 11:49   #7
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

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I have a couple thoughts on your proposal:

You would want to confirm that the marina were you would keep your boat would accept livaboards over winter. Some marinas in my area charge a premium for that privilege.

Also, I suspect it may not be too comfortable in the winter and if there isn't a good livaboard community you might find it to be a challenging if not isolated experience.

Remember, in the winter you have other concerns, such as keeping your bubbler running to ensure your boat is not locked in ice, emptying your holding tank and where to get a shower not to mention keeping your heater going.

It wouldn't be for me but you may be more hardy than I am so all the power to ya!

I would not be living aboard while at school (unless I found a really great deal). I would have to rent over the winter and pay for out of water storage because no one will let me live aboard past August. This is mostly an after college thing, but I plan on buying a boat as soon as possible. From what I understand, hard storage is significantly cheaper than floating storage.

If I were to live aboard over the winter, it would add several more components to my quest. For starters, I'd need at least two heaters that will be running nearly 24/7, secondly - the bubblers. I have no clue how much those cost since I wasn't considering the "live on a boat over the winter that far north approach."

I really do appreciate the advice and I hope it keeps rolling in!
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Old 15-04-2011, 12:05   #8
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

Sounds like the housing market in your area is tanked - that's not always bad news. Should be able to get good deals on a rental. and the great thing about a rental is you are not married to it

In your shoes I would rent either a basic apartment. or ideally a house - and then sublet to others (students? or not ) to at least cover your own rent. Might need to invest in a baseball bat, or have the "sub contract" for eviction / rent collection matters lined up in advance - for short term rentals never more than a week late. and then out. even if you have a month as a deposit, that's to cover empty before re-let (only broke people rent short term, and there finances never improve by letting debts build up - plus evicting folk now and again keeps the others honest).

The boat? well, if you can cover rent ashore (from others) then you can buy what you want / when you want.
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Old 15-04-2011, 12:47   #9
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

A house or apartment would be a lot more roomy and comfortable. Also, potential locations are endless while a place to live aboard on a boat is greatly limited. If you're not sinking down roots, renting is recommended.

Forty-five years ago when my father offered me the choice of living aboard his 29-foot sailboat versus a dormitory on the campus, I chose the dormitory and have never regretted it.

If you're in a college town (like Berkeley, CA where I went) near sizeable waters, there is a good chance there is a sailing club. That's probably the best/cheapest way to learn to sail.
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Old 15-04-2011, 14:07   #10
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

Quote:
Originally Posted by rowingdude View Post
I live in Michigan, near Kalamazoo. School is in the UP, at Sault Sainte Marie, MI which is pretty much the northeastern most city in Michigan. I plan on living in an apartment or on campus through the rest of school and then travel to the eastern seaboard to find my floating home.
Ahah! My old stomping grounds. I went to Sault College of Applied Arts and Technology in Sault Ste Marie Ontario back in the 70s. Tell me, does Sneaky Pete's bar n tavern still exist? We used to go across the border to the US every other week to do some drinking with our American friends.

Anyway, having had the boat experience and the house experience, I'd go with a boat. For a start, you can move around when you want to. Secondly, living on a boat means that you will not acquire so much junk over the years. Once you buy a house, it seems that there is an unwritten law stating you must fill it with STUFF. 95% of which is really nothing more than a placebo to keep the consumer pangs at bay. I used to live on a Grampian 26, did so for a year and a half. I started off with a fully furnished 1 bedroom apartment, and then bought the boat. When I moved aboard I only took my clothes, some pots n pans, a few books and some tools. I left the apartment in the care of my brother, and never missed all the crap I'd accumulated.

Fast forward a few years, I'm back on land, in a bachelor apartment thats bursting at the seams. So I picked up a town house as an investment. That part worked out fine, I bailed out at the peak of the market. However, I have to admit that I have acquired so much stuff, that now it all seems a burden. I paid good money for crap I can not use nor sell again. It would have made more sense to stay afloat and not buy the junk in the first place. Trust me, if you have space, you will fill it. Better to limit the space and go cold turkey on that acquistion bug.

Boat, definately a boat.

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Old 15-04-2011, 14:25   #11
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

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I would not be living aboard while at school (unless I found a really great deal). I would have to rent over the winter and pay for out of water storage because no one will let me live aboard past August.
Oops, sorry, I misunderstood.

Yes, renting sounds good for your situation although I know for myself that I wish I had bought a house earlier in my life. When we finally bought, I realized we had paid over a $100,000 in rent over the years which would have been a sizable chunk of a mortgage. However, we also didn't have financial security.

The problem with boats is that they typically are expensive so if money is a concern it might be better to find a club that you can join as already suggested, or get a smaller boat that will keep your costs down.

For example: with my first boat, a 25year old 26ft slooper, we were at a club that was quite affordable but over the 8 years I had her I paid $5800 per year for fees, maintenance and upgrades (average). And that was outside of depreciation when I practically gave the boat away at the end. That being said, I believe we got more out of the boat than we would have had we spent the money elsewhere.

I would recommend working out what your budget is to ensure that you can comfortably manage that expense.

It is nice to be on the water but not if it is at the expense of your sanity the rest of the time (a lesson I still haven't learned).
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Old 15-04-2011, 16:37   #12
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

I bought a house and I lost it too. Loan modification didn't quite work out there.
Glad it's gone!
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Old 15-04-2011, 16:43   #13
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

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I wish I had bought a house earlier in my life. When we finally bought, I realized we had paid over a $100,000 in rent over the years which would have been a sizable chunk of a mortgage.
I think of it as the exact opposite.

Since I bought my house in 2005, I have paid the mortgage company $72,000, and spent $10,000 in maintenance, to lower my principle by $8,000.

In that same amount of time, I could have paid $50,000 or less in rent, spent $0 on maintenance, and saved $33,000 cash.

Edit: The real trick to NOT buying is to be smart with the cash your are saving.

Buying is not always a slam dunk.
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Old 15-04-2011, 16:49   #14
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Re: 30'-34' sailboat vs. house : If you could only buy one

If you want a boat and know you want a boat go for it... I have house and a boat if I were to chose one ,,,hmmmmmm let me think a bit......The house would go I can move my boat my house is stationary... You have plenty of time to buy a house if the market goes up so will your paycheck... It cost nothing to anchor out and your dog, doesn't matter how big or small will get used of the dingy.... my dog dives off and plays with the Dolphin, slows me down but then I am not in any hurry... Hey enjoy it while you can..
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Old 15-04-2011, 19:32   #15
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Buy a renter?

I've always brought good renters. Nice but shabby houses in reasonable areas close to transport. Those time that I haven't I've regretted it.

Of course this was in Oz. Your area may be different, and a top agent is a must.

Rule of thumb: Monthly rent must be greater than the buying price in $1000's.

If I were in your place and could accept some risk I'd chain buy renters, buying them one by one as good tenants (yes they do exist) were found. This risky, however...

If you need to move the good agent will most likely find a good tenant. If you want to go cruising one house = one boat after a few years.
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