How to retire on a boat

Would you live out your retirement on a boat? Plenty of seafarers have thought about it, but not many have taken the plunge. Here are our top tips for living the dream.

How to get started

The first question to ask yourself is: how will you use your boat? This all depends on the kind of boating you intend to do. Will you be offshore sailing long distances? Will you be deep-sea fishing? Are you more interested in sailing lakes or ‘day sailing’?

Think about this hard, and buy a boat that matches your intention. If you are looking to boat overseas, then size is important. 38 to 42 feet sail or powerboats are a good size for 2 people. They also offer a good number of living areas, privacy and can be acquired at an affordable cost.

Sail or power boat?

The next question is very important. Will you be sailing? Or do would you prefer a powerboat? Both do require a good knowledge of the ocean, and of course, maintenance. But both also offer very different lifestyles.

Sailing is typically loved more by people who believe ‘getting there’ is most of the fun. While powerboats are ideal for those more interested in getting to the next fishing destination or marina as fast and easily as possible. Consider what you’d be happier on, and make the choice from there.

New or used boat?

There are plenty of good quality second hand boats on sale. If you want good value, go to a location with a high volume of boats, as you’ll be more likely to secure a competitive price. Budget will play a big part in this decision.

If you can afford a new boat, you’re more likely to get exactly what you want. However, there are plenty of second-hand boats on the market too, so it may be worth making a comparison. You can buy a used boat for around half the price of a comparable brand new model. If you’re not sure what’s right for you, consult a marine expert.


Knowing what kind of structure you need is so important. Most boats are constructed using fiberglass, but there are steel, wood and carbon-fibre boats on sale too. Do you prefer a catamaran or a monohull? How many masts do you want? And do you need a trawler, if you’re buying a fishing boat? How many engines will you require?

All these questions matter. Fibreglass hulls tend to be more popular as they are competitively priced, strong, easy to maintain and look good. Catamarans, which have 2 hulls, are typically more stable on the water, but do cost a bit more to dock, build and maintain, as they do have a larger surface area.

To get started, list all the features you’d like on a boat. This will assist you with working out exactly what you want when you speak with boat brokers and sellers. Don’t be afraid to include what you don’t want too, as this will help you narrow options down even further.

The journey

Buying a boat is a journey, so it is important to be well informed before making a purchase. If you’re planning to live on the boat, space, and the other points we mentioned are so important.

Don’t be afraid to ask other ‘grey nomads of the water’ who are living your dream, for tips on how to make it a reality. Most will be excited to share their experience and even their mistakes with you, as we all make them at some point.

Most importantly, taking the risk is the biggest step. But be cautious and patient when choosing a boat, as the process is a journey that should not be rushed. Above all, enjoy it, and take care to make smart, safe decisions based on your budget and needs.

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