Why Living On a Boat Is One Of The Cheapest (and Awesome) Way To Live

Last month I did my biggest purchase in years. It might even be my most expensive purchase ever.

I bought a boat. 

The book I named this blog after (hint: its Walden), made a huge impression on me. The part of building a small cabin and living in the woods was super appealing to me. But I must be honest. I like water more than the woods.

But buying a boat has always been scary for me. Boats are expensive and need constant repair. But. If you buy a small boat, it’s easier to fix things. And they not just cheaper. They are WAY cheaper.

Spare parts on boats cost exponential more as they increase in size. And smaller boats just need fewer spare parts. So there is not too often something to fix.

Hedonic Adaptation on Boats

I don’t have a toilet onboard. That will scare a lot of people because they don’t know where to take a shit. People I have onboard are often relieved when I tell them how often they break and it is not fun to fix a toilet in +2m waves and there is shit all over the floor.

To be honest. It is sort of nice just to take a shit in the ocean. And when you do get back to an ordinary toilet. You will appreciate much more than you normally would. Essential stuff as cooking becomes a bit of a project. But I like that. It involves everyone on the boat.

Living on a boat is the highest highs and lowest lows. That is what I love about it. What we are taking for granted in our normal lives becomes a huge luxury. Having a fridge packed with delicious foods is not something we truly enjoy. But when you have been on a boat for a couple of weeks. That is a huge luxury. But it is also nice to come back to the boat where everything is super simple.

The Economy

There are several reasons why a small boat is preferable to a big boat.

  • Cheaper to buy
  • Easier to sell
  • Doesn’t drop in price
  • Cheap maintenance
  • Easier and cheaper to find a harbor
  • Cheap Insurance

This the breakdown of what I have bought my boat for.

The cost of the boat was 29.000 DKK.

Then I needed to buy some miscellaneous stuff like tools, life jackets, and similar. That costs me 2.000 DKK. 

As a rule of thumb. It will cost you 20 % of the purchasing price in maintenance. Which will be 6.000 DKK. That is a pretty high number. Basic maintenance will cost me no more than 2000 DKK. But if I keep it for years I must eventually buy a new motor, sails, and similar. And each of that item is in the “pricey” end of about 6-7000 DKK.

A base harbor place is super cheap when you have a small boat. My boat has received a spot in Ærøskøbing at the moment. And a spot in that harbor costs 3000 DKK annually. That is utilities included. I know that in Copenhagen it is around 4000 DKK annually. So just let’s go with an average of about 3500 DKK. 

The insurance as shall have by law. Comes at the ridiculous price of 240 DKK annually. Which I gladly pay.

To Sum It Up

  • Cost of the boat = 29.000 DKK
  • Miscellaneous stuff = 2.000 DKK
  • Maintenance = 5.000 DKK
  • Harbour fee = 3.000 DKK
  • Insurance = 240 DKK
  • Total = 39.240 DKK

The price of buying a ready sailboat will be about 40.000 DKK. It could probably be done cheaper. But this boat was a bargain at that price. Someday I will be selling it again. The cost of the boat and miscellaneous shopping is money I will get back again.

So the annual cost of having a boat is only:

  • Maintenance
  • Harbour fee
  • Insurance

Which is = 8.240 DKK annual or 686 DKK/month.

My Monthly Finances the Apartment

Is something like this.

  • Rent 3300 DKK
  • Insurance 300 DKK
  • Utilities 300 DKK

Total = 3.900 DKK 

Living in a small boat compared to living in a really cheap Copenhagen apartment is almost 6:1. 

For months of rent in the apartment, I can live the whole summer on my boat. What about winter? Living on a small boat is probably not for everyone. And I might think that it won’t be for me either in the cold Danish winter months.

That is why I’m thinking of the perfect mix of living on a boat in the summer. And having a vacation house (sommerhus) during the winter. Renting out a vacation house in Denmark has a lot of tax benefits. And I would get the best rate when the weather is best here in Denmark. But that doesn’t matter. That is where I prefer to be on a boat. So I could rent out the vacation house during the summer. And living in it myself for free during the winter. And in 20 years-ish I would have a vacation house that has been paid off by the tourist.

Another thing I’m considering is to sail the boat to the Mediterranean sea. I love every single country down there and the sailing season is just much longer (and probably) nicer because of the warmer weather. During the winters I could put the boat on land and go home to Denmark to earn some money and hang out with friends and family.

Coast FIRE and Living On a Boat

If you read this at 20 something years I would really encourage you to live on a boat for a short period of your life. It is filled with adventures, and you will save a lot of money which can compound into a fortune.

If we compare living on a boat and living in a cheap apartment. With my finances as an example.

Living on a boat costs 700 DKK/Month

Living in cheap apartment costs 3.900 DKK/Month

You will save 3.200 DKK/month or 38.400 DKK/year. 

If you are 25 years old and you invest those 38.400 DKK, they could compound into:

626.358 DKK when you are 65 years old with a 7 % ROI.

So go ahead, live on a small boat, while you are working a year or two. Sail out in the evenings with some of your friends with some pizza onboard. Dump the anchor in and have a blast.

You will get an enormous amount of street credit from your friends and it is a perfect spot for a date as well.

Do that for two years and I have made you rich.

Blog Sponsor

A fellow danish money blogger is this post sponsor. His name is John, and he writes in danish about hands-on money-saving tips and other money/finance related stuff at vilebo.dk

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