Living on your boat will shake up your lifestyle and inspire many exciting adventures. We are breaking down everything you need to reside on the water safely, legally and comfortably.
Explore everything you’ll need to live on a boat.
Legal Requirements to Live on a Boat
Some believe living full-time on the open water is a free-for-all without taxes, rules or laws, but this is a misconception. Before moving into your vessel, familiarize yourself with the applicable legal requirements.
Your location will determine the specific licensure and permits necessary to reside in your vessel legally. Different states have varying requirements for the safety equipment that must always be on your boat.
In most cases, you’ll also need to register your boat with the U.S. Coast Guard and pay the associated fees before living aboard full-time.
There are some other important legal requirements to consider before living on your boat, including:
- Insurance: Good boat insurance is one of the most important essentials for living on a boat. You’ll likely want full coverage in case of an emergency or incident.
- Taxes: As long as your boat has all the required permanent cooking, sleeping and bathroom accommodations, you can report it as your home to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
- Mailing address: Living on a boat can complicate how you receive your mail. You’ll likely need to set up a P.O. Box at your local post office or have one assigned by the marina where you stay, depending on your unique situation.
What Do You Need to Live on a Boat?
The following are some key things you need to live on a boat:
- Climate control solutions: Most vessels do not have built-in climate control solutions, such as heaters, air conditioners or dehumidifiers. The weather conditions throughout the year will determine your boat’s specific equipment needs.
- Water tanks: Whether you stay at a marina or on the open water, you’ll need a supply of drinking water stored in tanks. You will need to refill these tanks periodically while living on your boat. Consider installing a water maker so you can supply your own water instead of purchasing it.
- Power supply: Consider your vessel’s electrical system. Before living on the water full-time, you’ll want a professional to inspect everything and make upgrades as needed. You may want to integrate solar panels to supplement your batteries and reduce generator use.
- Emergency communication tools: Having spare flares, radios and other emergency communication devices is crucial for anyone living on their boat, especially for nighttime sailing and severe weather.
- Cleaning supplies: Living on a boat means close quarters and a lot of moisture. Keeping your boat clean is critical to avoiding foul smells, mold growth and other unwanted hygiene issues. A handheld vacuum, basic detergents and cleaning tools will help you keep your boat looking and feeling like home.
- Activities: Moving onto your boat can be exhilarating, but once you settle in, you’ll likely need to find new ways to keep yourself occupied. E-readers are ideal because as soon as you finish one book, you can start another in seconds.
- Waterproof storage solution: When residing on a boat, you must be prepared for your belongings to get wet occasionally. Stocking up on waterproof storage solutions can help you keep the things that matter to you, such as family photos or electronics, safe from moisture.
Benefits of Living on a Boat
Moving from land into your boat will transform your lifestyle and daily routines. Here are some of the advantages of residing on the water:
- Freedom: Boats offer far more freedom than living in a single-family home or an apartment. If you want to relocate, there is no need to pack your bags. You can simply undock and sail to your next destination. You also have more privacy without neighbors or homeowners associations watching you.
- Adventure: Living on the water offers something new every day. From fishing to whale watching to enjoying a drink at sunset, there is always something exciting to do aboard your vessel.
- Nature: Living on the water can foster a closer connection with nature. Your home is surrounded by water and the sea breeze. It can be a magical way to disconnect, tune into the natural world and appreciate Mother Earth.
Frequently Asked Questions About Living on a Boat at Sea
Explore the following commonly asked questions about living on a boat full-time:
What Is the Best Boat to Live on Year Round?
Ultimately, the right boat to live in depends on your unique lifestyle and location. Generally, you’ll want to choose a vessel at least 40 feet long so you have enough indoor space when the weather isn’t conducive to being outside.
Can You Live on a Boat in the Ocean?
Yes! Living on a boat in the ocean is possible. You can reside in international waters or opt for somewhere closer to shore. If you do stay in international waters, you must follow international water laws.
Can You Live on a Boat in a Marina?
Some marinas allow you to live on your boat. However, they often limit the number of liveaboards and require you to fill out an application before allowing you to stay.
Can You Live on a Boat Without Experience?
Living on a boat full-time can be a learning curve for even the most experienced sailors. Life on the water is a huge responsibility and can become dangerous quickly.
The following skills are key for individuals considering moving onto their boats:
- Navigation: Anyone residing on a boat must understand how to navigate in all kinds of conditions.
- Maintenance: Upkeep is essential for boat living. It is best to familiarize yourself with basic skills to care for your boat’s equipment and important systems.
- Decision-making: When living on a vessel at sea, the wrong decision can harm your health and safety. You should be skilled at making good decisions on the fly if you want to live on the water.
Find a Formula Boats Dealer Near You Today
At Formula Boats, we want to help you get the most out of every experience on the water. Whether you are looking for thrills, relaxation or a place to live, we’re here to assist you in finding the right boat for your lifestyle.
You can explore our vast selection of new and used inventory or opt to customize your own boat model with our convenient build-a-boat tool.