What It's Like To Live On A Sailboat

What It's Like To Live On A Sailboat | Life of Sailing

Last Updated by

Daniel Wade

June 15, 2022

Have you ever wondered what living in a sailboat would be like? Well, it may be quite easy to glamorize the idea of living on a sailboat full-time. However, this is a very unique lifestyle that brings forth a mixed bag of adventures and challenges. Although you never really know what each day might bring, living on a sailboat requires a lot of preparation, organizations, and an aptitude to take up whatever the waters throw at you.

Choosing to live on a sailboat is not for everyone. It’s a unique way of life that requires a particular lifestyle that would be a step too far for what most of us are used to. But the fact that you’ve even been thinking about it might well mean that you’re one of the few folks out there who find the oddities of living on a sailboat appealing.

It will, however, require you to change your lifestyle, make a few compromises and living on a sailboat could be splendidly rewarding. There are also a lot of things to consider such as the type of boat you purchase and to where you’ll moor it. You’ll, of course, have to carefully think about leaving your comfortable status quo to live on a sailboat. In essence, living on a sailboat is great and offers a very unique experience but it’s not perfect.

So, what is it like living on a sailboat? Well, let’s find out.


Table of contents

Financing Living on the Water

Unless you have huge sums of money stashed away and you’re completely happy living off it, you’ll have to find ways of financing this lifestyle. While many people might tell you that you’ll have reduced expenses when you decide to live aboard your sailboat, this is far from the truth. In addition to the cost of buying the boat itself, it would be a very wrong move to assume that you’ll be saving money by moving aboard your boat.

Here are some of the expenses that you may have to deal with while living on a sailboat.

  • Boat mortgage payment
  • Boat insurance
  • Slip fees
  • Food and water
  • Waste management
  • Boat maintenance

While you should carefully manage these expenses by coming up with a budget and sticking to it, you’ll need to work if you do not have huge sums of money stashed somewhere. You should also keep in mind the boat maintenance will always cost over the roof if you do not have the expertise to do it all by yourself. This is because marine parts and labor is usually more expensive.

Unless you are a millionaire, living on a sailboat would only be perfect if you can work from the boat. Whether you’re self-employed or a freelancer, you’ll need to create time and work to sustain this lifestyle and pay the bills that come with it. In essence, living on a sailboat is not all about wines, grapes, and beautiful sunset as always depicted in the movies. It also involves putting in some hard work to finance and maintain this unique and truly rewarding lifestyle.

The Beauty that Comes with Living on a Sailboat

In today’s life, everything out there seems to be fast-paced, uncompromising, demanding, and even more stressful. It seems almost impossible to take a break from it all, slow down and savor the best that life has on offer. Fortunately, living on a sailboat can offer you some form of sanctuary from the breakneck hassles of everyday life.

In addition to the sense of freedom that it gives you, living on a sailboat brings you close to nature as you’ll get more up close and personal with some of the most amazing creatures in the world while exploring some of the best places on earth. You’ll spend most of your time living next door to whales, dolphins, sharks, tuna and many more. That’s not all; you’ll learn to embrace the best and the worst that Mother Nature has on offer. From the beautiful sunsets and basking on the sun to heavy storms and high winds, these will become normal parts of your life. We must, however, admit that it’s much better than the daily hassles that come with living a typical lifestyle on land.

As such, let’s highlight some pros of living on a sailboat.

It’s a Relaxed Lifestyle – The sense of freedom and the chance to explore some of the best places and things in nature is perhaps one of the main attractions to this thrilling liveaboard lifestyle. Although there may be an endless trickle of things to do while on the boat, this lifestyle is generally casual, laid-back, and of course, independent.

It’s an Active Way of Life – Normally, we always strive to maintain a healthy lifestyle by watching our diets and going to the gym. And given that exercise is an integral part of wellness, you’ll never lack it while out there on the boat. Whether it’s about cleaning or maintaining the boat, there are endless projects when living on a boat. The best part is; you’ll be fixing things, exercising, and staying healthy in glamorous places!

A Deeper Sense of Community and Safety – It would be far-fetched to proclaim that living on a sailboat is very safe, especially if you’re planning to sail or moor in areas that are prone to piracy. However, living on a sailboat is much safer than living on land. This is because there are limited chances of being targeted by crooks, getting involved in road accidents or even being a victim of burglary and such negative vices.

More importantly, boat life is widely associated with boat lovers; a boating community that is willing to share and help one another. While you may not share necessities and become that close, the overall philosophy and approach to this lifestyle remain the same across the board and the sense of togetherness brought about by the love of this unique lifestyle will always be evident.

You’ll Embrace Nature – Whether it’s the sight of a flying dolphin, the beautiful sunset or the melodious sound of swans hovering around your boat, living on a sailboat is one of the best ways to connect and embrace nature. You’ll never lack something to bring a smile on your face. You’ll also have to deal with thunderstorms, high winds, and in some cases, noisy and full-of-life neighbors.


We all love to plan about things although we generally do not stick to the plan. So if you’ve always had difficulty in sticking to the plan, living on a boat could give you a perfect excuse not to stick to one. In most cases, your plans will change due to weather conditions. You may have to wait for days on end to venture out or go to the shore to resupply, especially when the winds are high and there are huge storms.

What does this mean? Living on a sailboat will more often than not mean that you throw most of your plans out of the window. This is part of this unique lifestyle and you’ll get used to it. Again, maintaining routine will become almost impossible and so you’ll learn to let go, make compromises, and feel more stoic about certain things in life that you initially thought you couldn’t do without.

With that in mind, let’s look at some cons of living on a sailboat.

A Slow Pace of Life – Your life aboard will become pretty slow and this can be quite frustrating if you’re used to the fast-paced city life. The projects are many and the chores may take up more time. For instance, going for groceries would mean that you lock up the boat, ensure that the dinghy is ready and then row to the shore just to get to the nearest store!

Bad Weather and Wildlife – Living on a sailboat means that nature plays a huge part in your life and huge storms, heavy rains, and cold nights may sometimes become the order of the day. Additionally, you may have to deal with bugs such as mosquitos, as well as other unwanted visitors such as seabirds.

Lack of Space – Even though living on a sailboat can be perfect for minimalists, it can be challenging for most of us since it would mean that you have to do away with most things that you’ve always needed in your life. This is because a fairly-sized boat will never have as much space as your house and this can be a big issue. You’ll, therefore, not only have to be very tidy but you’ll also have to bring necessities only.

Seasickness could be a thing – Living on a sailboat is perhaps not a good idea if you’re prone to seasickness. You’ll be spending most of your time on the water and so it wouldn’t make any sense to embrace this lifestyle only to become seasick.

Tips for Living on a Sailboat

If you’ve been thinking of living on a sailboat, keep the following tips in mind.

Don’t Buy a Boat that You’re still Going to Fix – Fixing and maintaining boats can be very expensive. As such, avoid buying a boat that still needs to be fixed to work perfectly. This can cost you huge sums of money and may ruin your dream before it even begins.

Get a boat that You can Manage – Unless you’re a billionaire with endless pockets, it’s always advisable to go for a boat that you can easily manage. It’s best to go for a small boat that will not require crew members and huge maintenance costs. Again, smaller boats can perfectly fit in marinas, are easier to handle, and tend to be a lot cheaper.

Look at your slip options – Believe it or not, the cost of renting a boat is often cheaper than the rent of any given house in the coastal area. It’s, however, important that you carry out thorough research and find out whether living on a sailboat is the right lifestyle for you in terms of finances, your work, and your family.

Embrace the minimalist lifestyle – Living on a sailboat means that you’ll only have room for essentials. As much as it seems like a luxurious lifestyle, fairly-size boats have very small spaces. You should, therefore, make sacrifices, become tidy, and embrace the minimalist way of life.


Living on a sailboat is a perfect lifestyle that presents both sides of the coin: the bad and the good. While it is a tremendously rewarding experience that gives you the freedom to explore some of the most exotic places in the world, it has its fair share of challenges. This is a unique lifestyle that’s not meant for all. Well, you’ll have to make some sacrifices, deal with bad weather, while also enjoying the best weather and the best that nature has to offer.

In essence, sail away from the comforts of your home, catch the wind, explore, discover, learn, and you’ll never regret it.

What It's Like To Live On A Sailboat
Daniel Wade

Daniel Wade

I've personally had thousands of questions about sailing and sailboats over the years. As I learn and experience sailing, and the community, I share the answers that work and make sense to me, here on Life of Sailing.

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