Do you feel like giving up apartment life in the studio for a life on the water? Living on a boat provides you alternative accommodations to that studio that’s bleeding your cash flow dry every month. Living on a boat is affordable, and it’s a change to the fast-paced city lifestyle.
If you’re thinking about the boating life, then you’ll probably be staying in a marina. Anchoring at sea or using mooring buoys is only a temporary living solution, and it’s only for those real sea dogs that are self-sustainable on the ocean.
You can think of a marina like an apartment complex. You pay a levy for amenities and services within the marina, like laundry rooms, parking, and security. Like apartment blocks, some marinas are better than others. Some offer an upmarket living experience, while others can be dilapidated and a security threat.
Please take a look at our guide to finding liveaboard marinas to tie up and stay a while.
Liveaboard Marina Amenities
As mentioned, the primary difference in marinas is the location. The marina’s quality in terms of its security amenities and services (and the people and boats) plays a role in pricing. In the best marinas, you’ll find everything you need to enjoy a comfortable lifestyle on a boat.
Some of the important features to look for in a prospective marina include the following.
- Power facilities.
- Holding tank pumps.
- Pump out services.
- Restrooms and showers.
- Clubhouses and pools.
- Restaurants and bars.
- Laundry and fitness facilities.
- Parking areas.
- Business centers.
- Grocery stores and ship stores.
- Gas and diesel tanks or filling areas.
What You Need to Consider Before Tying Up in a Liveaboard Marina
Whether you’re a student looking for affordable accommodation or a retiree thinking about downsizing your living arrangement, the boating lifestyle is a different approach to living. However, living in a marina isn’t for everyone.
If you can’t get used to smaller living spaces and lack of storage space, it’s not going to work out for you. The marina lifestyle suits minimalists that don’t carry around many possessions in their life. You’ll also have other challenges to deal with when living on the water, such as boat maintenance and the weather.
Here are some other factors you need to consider before moving to a marina.
Does the Marina Permit Liveaboard?
Some marinas may allow people to stay overnight or for a few days, but they may prohibit living in the marina full-time.
Can I Live in a Confined Space?
The boating lifestyle is a significant downgrade to your living space, and it can feel confining for some people. Make sure you’re comfortable with a snug home, and if you have a partner, make sure you are both comfortable with closer living quarters.
Does the Marina Allow Pets?
If you have pets, you’ll have to consider marinas pet policies before signing a lease. Some marinas allow pets, while others may forbid it. Most marinas won’t allow pets, especially upmarket marinas, due to problems with pet mess unattended by owners.
Proximity to Cities and Towns
How close is the marina to the local town and the grocery store? Where is the nearest gas station? These are considerations you need to account for before moving into the marina.
How Do I Get to Work?
Are you driving a car, using Uber, or public transport to get around? If you’re using a car to get to work or move around town, you’ll need to ensure the marina offers secure parking facilities.
Are there Bridges Close By?
It might seem strange to wonder why this would matter to you. However, if you own a sailboat, you’ll need to know that there are bridges that can raise the bridge to accommodate the mast length o0n your boat.
Does the Marina Have Deep Water Access?
If you plan to take your boat out into the ocean or a lake, you want to ask the marina if it has deep water access, especially if you have a larger, heavier vessel. The deep water access prevents larger boats from damaging the keel or propellors.
Climate and Weather
What is the climate like in the marina and the local area? If you choose to live in Florida, you get great weather, but there’s always the chance of a hurricane causing an evacuation – the same goes for gulf coast cities like New Orleans. Extreme weather risk is a consideration in today’s changing climate.
Along with extreme weather, you also have to be comfortable living in a humid environment. Life on the water means that those hot days can become overbearing, and you’ll be dripping with sweat onboard your boat. When the winter rolls around, living on a boat is much colder than living on land.
Hurricane Season and Boat Insurance
As mentioned, extreme weather is a real problem for the boating lifestyle. Hurricanes affect the Gulf Coast and the Eastern seaboard of the United States. Hurricanes are a risk from Houston all the way around to Miami, up to the Carolinas, and even as far as New York.
If you’re going to live anywhere on the gulf or the eastern seaboard, it’s essential that you take out hurricane insurance on your boat. If you’re renting the boat, make sure the owner has insurance to cover your possessions if you have to leave the boat in an emergency and can’t take anything with you.
It’s also important to note that hurricane policies are different from standard insurance policies, so make sure you understand the policy terms before signing your agreement with the insurer.
What are the Pros of Liveaboard Marinas?
There are plenty of reasons why moving to a marina is a great idea. From catamarans to trawlers and houseboats, there are always interesting boats in the marina and plenty of opportunities to meet new people.
Some of our top aspects of marina life include the following.
- A laid-back lifestyle.
- Friendly and relaxed people.
- Peaceful ocean or water sounds.
- More wildlife in the area.
- New travel experiences.
- Affordable living.
What are the Cons of Liveaboard Marinas?
Some of the drawbacks to marina living include the following.
- Extreme weather scenarios.
- Humidity in the summer.
- Cold in the winter.
- No onboard facilities in your boat.
- Not all marinas offer all amenities.
- Prices can vary depending on the marina.
- Close proximity to your neighbors.
Costs of Docking at a Liveaboard Marina
If marina life sounds like it’s for you, we bet you want to know how much it’s going to cost you. Several factors contribute to what you’ll pay at the marina.
- The services and amenities at the marina.
- The security of the marina.
- The prestige and reputation of the marina.
- Other secondary factors include the following.
- Does the marina charge you for the length of your boat or the slip size?
- Does the marina charge a flat rate?
- Does the marina offer discounts for long-term leases?
- Is there a fee for liveaboard?
- Do you get electricity and water included?
- Are there any other hidden costs?
- Do they offer pump-out services and maintenance or repairs?
- Do they have Wi-Fi, and is it free and stable?
Typically, you’ll find that most marinas base their fees on the length of the boat. Since most people live in boats under 40-feet, you should find that it’s an affordable lifestyle for the value you get in return.
The cost of the marina fee can vary depending on all the factors and the amenities on offer. If you’re living at a premium, top-rated marina in a city like Miami, you could expect to pay up to $1,000 per month. However, smaller marinas in smaller towns may charge you as little as $150 per month, but they may lack some amenities.
It’s about what you can afford to pay and what you want for your lifestyle. However, one thing is for sure – it’s a lot cheaper than living in an apartment or a studio. Sure, a few other costs are involved, but most of them are similar to what you’ll be paying in an apartment anyway.
Choosing Marinas in Large Cities
It’s important to note that liveaboard rates will always be more expensive in cities than in smaller towns. It might be worth your while to look for marinas just outside major cities if you have a car and can drive into work.
If you work remotely, choose a marina away from the city’s fast-paced life and enjoy a peaceful and serene living environment out on the water. However, if you are working from home, make sure you have a good Wi-Fi connection at the marina.
Where Do I Find Liveaboard Marinas?
You can find liveaboard marinas along the east and west coast, the Gulf Coast, and inland waterways across the United States.
However, many of the marinas don’t provide liveaboard for boaters, and you’ll need to do a bit of research to find the ones that permit it and then separate the good from the bad locations.
When assessing a marina for your living accommodations, make sure you look at what people say about it on social media and forums. Make sure you’re moving into a place with good reviews, or you could end up in a nightmarish living environment.
What Do I Do If I’m On a Waiting List for a Marina?
The problem with finding a marina is that the good ones are in short supply, especially those offering liveaboard facilities around cities. If you find that the marina is full, you can always apply to get onto the waiting list and move somewhere else while you’re waiting for a slip to become available.
Most marinas around cities cap the number of liveaboards available, and it’s not uncommon to find multi-year waiting lists for liveaboards at some sought-after marinas. If you have no luck getting a liveaboard in any marina, here are a few strategies to help you work around the situation.
The first option if you’re on a waiting list is to sublet for someone else. Some people with yachts cruise the world for years at a time, enquire with the marina manager about any subletting opportunities.
You can also go the old-school route of posting a request or a poster asking for subletting opportunities on the marinas message board. In some cases, you might not even need a boat to sublet, and you get fully furnished living accommodation.
It’s worth it to enquire around town if you have your heart set on the marina and there’s a long waiting list.
Buy Boats that Include a Liveaboard Slip
Some dealers or owners might sell you a boat with a slip included with your purchase. You can negotiate the slip into the purchase of the boat with the owner and get a great deal on your new living arrangement.
However, make sure you pay attention to the pricing; some boat owners may inflate the price of the boat by as much as $50,000 because a liveaboard slip is so sought-after in the market.
If you’re absolutely desperate and have nowhere else to turn, you can always consider the sneak-aboard option. This one isn’t for the faint-hearted, and it’s a risky, temporary strategy that could get you in trouble.
Some marinas will let you live aboard and turn a blind eye or accept a bribe to you living aboard your boat at the marina. However, this option often involves a lot of sneaking around, and if people see you living there and complain, the management may kick you out of the marina.
2021 saw prices increase across the board for a variety of consumer staples, including rent. Renting a small apartment in cities like San Francisco and New York cost a fortune. As a result, many people are resorting to living in vans in parking lots.
Liveaboards at marinas offer you a different lifestyle to the van life, and it’s much more comfortable, snug, and relaxing.