So you're passionate about boating and you're ready to take the plunge into boat ownership, but there are many things to consider before making a purchase.
Owning a boat can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors and spend time with family and friends. Boating offers a sense of freedom and adventure that can be hard to find elsewhere. However, boats also come with responsibilities. Before buying a boat, it's important to research and ensure you're prepared for the cost and upkeep.
Initial Costs & Expenses
Firstly, you need to decide on what type of boat you want by considering your needs and budget, you can narrow down your options and find the perfect boat for your family. You need to ask yourself questions, how much time are you going to spend on the water, are you planning on using it for fishing trips, family vacations, or both.
Whether you're looking for a fishing boat, a cabin cruiser, or a pontoon boat, our Boat Finder tool can help you find the right one for you.
One of the most decisive questions is, how much boat can I afford? Not only do you have the purchase price, but you also have to take into account all the expenses that go with owning a boat.
When it comes to insurance, you'll need at least liability coverage and damage coverage. This will protect you in case you cause damage to another vessel or property. If you're financing your purchase, your lender will likely require comprehensive coverage. This will protect your boat in case of accident or theft. While the cost of insurance may seem like a huge expense, it's smart money in the long run.
Storage & Costs
There are a few things to consider when it comes to storing a boat. You'll need to take different precautions for summer and winter storage if you live in an area with extreme climates. In general, you'll want to make sure the boat is clean and dry before storing it, with winterization prep for your engine and your boat.
There are two main options: outside storage and inside rack storage. Outside storage is typically cheaper, as the boat is more exposed to the elements. However, inside rack storage provides more protection from the elements and can help prolong the boat's life. Figure on roughly $10-15 per foot for outside storage and $50 per foot for inside storage.
Fees for keeping your boat at a marina will vary depending on inside or outside storage, and how often you use the boat. It can also include cleaning and maintenance charges.
Equipment & Accessories
It's important to factor in the cost of safety gear and accessories. Life jackets, paddles, and signal flares are essential for safe boating.
Additional accessories, stereos, watersport equipment, and towing toys, can be added eventually over time.
Trailer & Transportation
Trailers are an essential part of owning a boat and are needed if you are planning to launch the boat in different bodies of water and if you have no permanent dock. Sometimes the cost of the trailer is included in the purchase price, this can be common practice if you are purchasing from a dealership or boat show.
There will also be maintenance costs to consider on your trailer too.
Maintenance costs for boats vary depending on how often you use your vessel, where it's located (fresh or saltwater), what type of boat, and if new or used.
In addition to the regular maintenance costs associated with any engine-powered vehicle, boats also require hull maintenance, storage, winterizing, and haul-out services. These additional costs can add up quickly, particularly for those who do not use their boats year-round.
A good rule of thumb is to set aside at least 10% of the purchase price of your boat every year for maintenance and improvements. This will ensure that you have enough funds available when you need to replace worn-out parts or upgrade.
Most states require boaters to have some type of boater safety course and operator's license. Once you have completed a boating safety course, you need to obtain a boater's license from your State boating agency.
For more guides on buying a boat, including boat financing, make sure to read