You can get a feel for living on a boat by downsizing your entire life into one small room. That includes furniture, clothes, and anything to do with cooking. You might be surprised by what you can live without. If you haven’t used something in a few months, you probably don’t need it anyway.
Simplicity is a big part of living aboard; making a mental adjustment to live with less. If you feel you can comfortably live in a small room, you might be the sort of person who can live on a boat. Space and storage is one of the biggest challenges of boat living, but it’s surprising what a well designed boat can absorb.
On TV and in the movies, living on a boat is portrayed as the ultimate romantic lifestyle. You picture yourself drinking champagne at sunset with your significant other. Or taking off on a whim to more exotic locales. And certainly these are the rewards of living aboard. You don’t imagine the challenges until they happen. Some people compare showering on a boat to being locked in a closet with a wet dog. Your butt is usually soggy from sitting in water. People who live in houses don’t have to climb and crawl around their home like boaters. And the smallest of chores can leave you bleeding. (Boat related injuries are called “boat bites”.) Your toilet might explode one morning in a smelly mess or your propeller may fall off leaving you stranded in distant waters. But in general, the pleasures of living aboard far surpass the challenges. Your success depends on balancing the romantic with the reality.
Living aboard is truly an amazing lifestyle; waking up at sunrise with the swallows chirping on your bow, being rocked to sleep every night on the water. You live in a self-contained home in the great outdoors, able to untie your dock lines and move anytime, bringing your home with you wherever you go. In North America, the cost of living on a boat in a major city is usually far less than buying a home in a comparable location. Living aboard a boat is waterfront living at its best and least expensive.
If you can, spend some time living on a boat before making the decision to go full time. Even if it’s just for a week, you get used to storage issues, noise, boat movement and let’s not forget, boat smells. In fact, you get used to boat smells so quickly once you live aboard that you might show up to a meeting smelling like gasoline because you stored your pants in a locker near the gas tank. If anyone asks, just say, “I live on a boat!”