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Low cost retirement living
Old 02-20-2004, 02:35 PM   #1
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Low cost retirement living

Living aboard a boat can be a very low cost lifestyle. If you keep your boat simple and relatively small, the costs of owning and maintaining a boat can be very low.

If you like sailing, you can get a decent sailboat for about $10,000, then plan on adding about $5,000 to $10,000 for upgrades to make it ready to live aboard, such as new motor, solar panels, safety equipment, modifications, etc. You can probably get a motor boat for even less.

With a smaller, low cost boat you are better off thinking in terms of day sailing along the coast rather than crossing oceans. Wait for good weather and sail to the next harbor. But there are a lot of places you can get to without going offshore, like the east coast USA, Great Lakes, and the Bahamas. And there is no need to push yourself, going slow and stopping along the way can be fun too. Head south in October, and go back north in May.

Once you are living aboard, your cost of living can be pushed as low as you want it to be. You could probably live on $5000 per person per year if you know how to live frugally. If you have $1000 per month, you can live very well.

It does mean a major lifestyle change. It is worth considering for someone who likes boating and would like to retire early on a low budget.
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Re: Low cost retirement living
Old 02-22-2004, 08:58 AM   #2
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Re: Low cost retirement living

Sounds interesting, but I have some questions. How long will a $10,000 boat last? Will it need major repairs every few years? If so, then where are you going to live for the duration that your boat is unavailable? Is this lifestyle for current mariners only? There is a whole school of knowledge and specialized equipment associated with sailing that us non-sailors don't have and won't be able to acquire immediately. Also, what the heck do you do in a hurricane? One last thing, do you find yourself missing the conveniences of living on land, and do you keep a car so that you can go shopping?
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Re: Low cost retirement living
Old 02-22-2004, 10:34 AM   #3
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Re: Low cost retirement living

We weren't boaters when we bought our boat. We vacationed on it twice for a couple of weeks at a time before retiring and moving aboard full time. So starting with little knowledge is not that big of a problem.

Heck - you can buy and sail a 50' boat with no license and no training, and the difference in insurance for having had some classes is pretty minimal. So the actuaries don't think it is that hard either.

Most people do come from boating as a hobby, but we met lots who never did any boating until they retired onto a boat. Some of them have sailed to some pretty distant ports.

A $10,000 boat is going to be pretty tired. But Skylark mentioned spending another $10,000 on upgrades. By the time you do that, you can have a pretty servicable boat. Ugly perhaps, but servicable.

Maintenance is a fact of life, but the vast majority of maintenance is usually done while you are aboard, if the boat is your home. Even when the bottom is being painted, you'll see boaters living in sailboats sitting on dry land with supports holding them upright. The only time we ever moved off the boat for maintenance was when we refinishd the teak parquet floors, and we knew we wouldn't be able to keep our dog (and his hair) off the wet finish. But we painted the entire outside, did lots of engine repairs, plumbing repairs and upgrades, electrical upgrades, and so forth, all while living aboard.

One nice thing is that boaters are generous with their time and knowledge. More than once we had other boaters, either total strangers or casual acquaintenances, help with repairs that we weren't sure how to make.

Hurricanes are not the threat they might seem. You'll see the east coast boaters (like us) head north to Norfolk and beyond by May or so, both for cooler climate and to avoid hurricanes. Hurricanes are only a factor that far north every 20 years or so.

(Many insurance policies give better rates if you are at least that far north from June 1 onward.)

Of course that every 20 years sometimes means THIS year. When Hurricane Isabel hit the mid-Atlantic area last September, we knew weeks ahead of time that it was likely to come our way, so a week before it was due, we and hundreds of other boats went up rivers to spots where there were no open stretches of water that would allow waves to build up. Most people got off their boats and stayed in a motel, but many stayed with their boats.

Of those who took these steps, I did not hear of anyone with more damage than minor paint damage caused by debris in the water rubbing against the hull.

All these boats that head north will hangout in the Chesapeake until the end of hurricane season, around mid-October give or take a few weeks, and then head south for the warmer weather in Florida.

That trip south is no big deal for novices. There are lots of boats going the same way, so you follow the pack to a great extent. Staying out of shallow water is not much more than staying between the bouys. Most novices and seasoned boaters alike will wait until there is a group of boats and an excellent weather forecast before crossing large bodies of open water, as when they go to the Bahamas (a long day's trip).

You asked about missing the conveniences of land. Space and good internet connections are all we missed. The internet problem is just about solved in most places. Lack of space - well, you just have to learn to deal with it.

I'd say most full time cruisers don't have cars. They and the other boaters will quickly learn places to stop where access to shopping is easy. This information is widely shared. The more popular places are those with easy access. Beaufort NC, for example, has a maritime museum that makes available for free an old station wagon to any visiting sailor who wants to take it for an hour for a grocery run. North Myrtle Beach SC has a shuttle bus ($1) that takes you to area shops. Vero Beach FL has an extensive free (donations welcomed) bus service going anywhere you could think of. Miami Beach has a large modern grocery store that you can reach by water. And so forth.

Getting a car to where the boat is located when the boat is moving every few days or even every few weeks is completely impractical. When we had to have a car, we used one of the car rental companies that would come out to where we could meet them.

You'll notice I underlined "cruisers". These are the vagabonds who usually won't remain in any one place more than a week or two. There are also lots of full time boaters who will stay in one location essentially all the time. This is the case in a lot of places where a boat will be at a dock and the owners will be living aboard. (That dock typically adds $2500 a year to the cost of living.) There are fewer, but still quite a few, places where the boats are at anchor in one spot year around. St. Augustine and Marathon FL are two places that come to mind. There are also boaters who will spend winters in one spot in the south, and summers in one spot up north.

In these cases, where the boat is in one place either all the time or for many months at a time, you'll find that a lot of the boaters have cars.

Dory36
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Re: Low cost retirement living
Old 02-22-2004, 12:34 PM   #4
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Re: Low cost retirement living

I love sailing, but I just couldn't imagine doing the liveaboard thing. Isn't it basically the same as living out of your car but with a better view? Where do you put the media room, the gym, and the indoor bowling alley?
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Re: Low cost retirement living
Old 02-22-2004, 05:34 PM   #5
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Re: Low cost retirement living

There is a pretty big outdoor swimming pool available!

I mentioned a $10,000 sailboat of about 30 feet as a way to get started. There are a lot of sailboats available at this price or less. If you put $5,000 to $10,000 of upgrades and maintenance into it, with solar panels, new rigging, motor in good shape, new cushions, etc it should be a solid boat for quite a while. If you do the upgrades with an eye toward keeping the systems simple and reliable, you should have many years of low cost boating. Yes, you have to learn how to do it, but with less than a dozen books and info off of the net, you can learn how.

30 feet is pretty small to live on. It is about as small as I would want to go, and would be good for one person and might work for two. But it _is_ going to be full of your stuff and supplies. If you have a comfortable favorite place to sit, a good place to sleep, and a galley that works for you, you should be OK. The cockpit is your porch, hang an awning and enjoy the view. The dinghy is your car, use it to explore the area and get out to talk to other people.

When I decide I've had enough with working, I'm hoping to spend a year or two living aboard and trying not to spend much while my nest egg grows. Living aboard is not something I see doing for the rest of my life, it is more of a big adventure for a while and then head back home with a new perspective. But who know what the future holds?
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Re: Low cost retirement living
Old 09-08-2004, 08:43 AM   #6
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Re: Low cost retirement living

I have a motorboat on Lake Champlain in VT , I always see people sailing but I have to say it looks too complicated to me too much work, I am sure its not too bad I would love to crusie the Bah. islands someday. I wanna start now. How did you make out with the latest storms Charly and the Frances where did you all go when it hit, watch out for Ivan its another killer!
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Re: Low cost retirement living
Old 09-10-2004, 07:02 PM   #7
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Re: Low cost retirement living

Insurance requirements and prudence makes most east coast cruisers summer in the Chesapeake or north of there, until around mid October or so.
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Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. Mark Twain
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Re: Low cost retirement living
Old 09-11-2004, 04:26 AM   #8
 
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Re: Low cost retirement living

Here is my 2 cents. Dory showed up at about the point in my life where I was thinking about a live-aboard boat.
Just as Paul Terhorst did when I was thinking ER. Both
were a real inspiration to me. Although I got ERed, the
live-aboard thing has eluded me so far. I would have to
go with a power boat as sailing is way too much work for me. I have sailed with friends (craft large and small).
Never got into it. Anyway, there are many reasons
we have not realized that particular dream, and maybe that's okay. Obviously, that lifestyle is not for everyone.
I am looking at boats right now and will buy when the time is right, but living aboard is out for now.

John Galt
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