Living on a boat all year long may seem like a fantasy. Something to think about, but that doesn’t actually happen.
This is incorrect.
It is estimated that there are thousands of people who live on boats full time.
Here are the most popular types of boat people use for full-time living.
3 Sailboat Types People Live On Full-Time
A sailboat, as you probably know is a boat that is propelled almost entirely by wind using large sails mounted to the deck.
There are many types of sailboats. Not all are available to be lived on as they can sometimes be quite small.
The sailboat can be an ideal liveaboard vessel for most types of water. There are also multiple types of sailboats that you could liveaboard.
Common Types of Sailboats For Full-Time Living Include:
Sloops are sailboats that only have one single mast and two sails. These are called a foresail and a mainsail.
A foresail can also be called a headsail or a jib.
These sailboats are often ideal for one to two sailors to live aboard. They are also able to be handled by a solo person. This can be ideal if you plan to live alone, or with only one other person.
A Cutter is similar to a Sloop but has an additional sail between the headsail and the mainsail.
This additional sail can add versatility to the vessel and can allow for more options for different wind conditions.
Like the Sloop, these are small and fast and are good for one to two people.
3. Ketch or Yawls
Both a Ketch and a Yawl are two-masted sailboats. They have a main mast that is set forward and a shorter mizzen mast set backward.
The difference between a Ketch and a Yawl is where their mizzenmast is placed. A Yawl has the mizzen mast placed behind the rudder post where the Ketch has the mizzen mast placed ahead of the rudder post.
Why Choose A Sailboat Over The Other Types?
Sailboats may not sound like a good choice for a liveaboard boat, but they offer many advantages. During calm waters, or even while docked, The open decks offer additional living space for enjoying the outdoors.
Sailboats are often equipped for overnight journeys and their cabins can be quite luxurious. They can offer sleeping arrangements, storage space and other necessities for comfortable living.
Sailboats can also come equipped with an engine that can assist with docking or getting somewhere when the wind just won’t cooperate.
Sailboats are also quiet and ideal for those who just want to be out on the water without the roar of an engine. This is important to consider when you are going full-time.
They are efficient on fuel and you are able to go much farther on a sailboat than a boat that relies on an engine and gas.
Even though a sailboat’s cabin has living space, it can be one of the more cramped below deck options. Living on a sailboat is more ideal for those who would rather spend a larger portion of their time outdoors.
Like anything with a sail, you will want to make sure you know what your clearance is in case you come across any bridges.
2 Popular Double-Hull Catamaran Types
A double-hulled catamaran is a watercraft that has two parallel hulls that are equal in size. Because a multi-hull vessel has a wide beam, which is the width at its widest point, it has more stability than that of a mono-hull vessel, like a sailboat.
A sailboat gets most of its stability from its keel, which is the fin-like structure fixed to the bottom of the hull.
Catamarans are very popular when it comes to full-time living on a boat. This is because they are very stable and they tend to be more steady.
Types of Catamarans Include:
1. Cruise Catamarans
These are often referred to as luxury catamarans. They are built for speed and can come with additional motors.
These types of vessels are ideal when getting to your new destination is more important than the journey itself.
Most often cruise catamarans are designed to be ferries, but there are some that hold similar aspects of a luxury yacht. The only difference between a personal cruising catamaran and a yacht would be the number of hulls.
2. Sailing Catamarans
Used almost solely for recreational purposes, sailing catamarans are for those who wish to experience life at sea.
Depending on the type of sailing catamaran you purchase, you might be looking at more living space on the deck instead of inside the hulls. This is because some sailing catamarans are built for racing across the water and smaller hulls allow them to travel quicker.
Why Choose A Catamaran For Full-Time Living?
Catamarans have less hull volume, but they more than make up for it in increased deck space.
Most catamarans allow for enclosed cabin space in each hull as well as on the deck. This gives a person more privacy and space than a single hull vessel.
Again, privacy is extremely important when you are setting off on a boat full-time.
The design of the multi-hull is also good to keep out noise from engines if you have one. Because the engine is often placed in the middle, neither hull is immediately next to it. Unlike a single hull vessel where the engine is situated on the back and can often disrupt quiet living conditions.
Some potential issues with life on a catamaran include size and storage. If you plan to dock your catamaran into a marina, it is sometimes required you buy two slips due to the size.
They are also often more expensive because it is more comparable to crafting two boats than it is to craft one.
A triple-hull catamaran, or also called trimaran, is a multi-hull vessel that is made up of the main hull with two smaller outrigger hulls. These are sometimes called floats or amas.
The floats are attached to the main hull with lateral beams.
These offer even more stability than the catamarans do and can be more lightweight.
Popular Types of Trimarans Include:
1. Large Cruiser
The large cruiser trimaran is very similar to the cruising catamaran. They both have their salons on the main deck, but large cruising trimarans also have room for sleeping cabins in the amas.
There are even some larger versions that offer a flybridge that allows for additional social areas.
These boats travel quickly and offer a wide variety of comforts.
2. Race Cruisers
While these cruisers do not have as much space in the amas as the large trimaran cruisers, they still offer on deck salons that can be used for around the clock living.
The main purpose of these vessels is speed or racing, and they will often reach their destination long before their single or double-hulled counterparts.
Why Choose To Live On A Trimaran?
The main reason to live on a trimaran is stability!
If you want to ensure you are as stable as possible on all types of water, a trimaran might be for you. A great option if you are bringing kids along of if you are prone to seasickness. In that case, you won’t last long on the boat if it’s swaying too much.
These vessels offer similar luxuries to the catamaran with the potential for more speed.
Depending on which type of trimaran you go with, you might be looking at less living space in the hulls.
You will also likely find that trying to dock one in a marina is more expensive than if you were to have a mono-hull vessel. Just like the catamaran, their construction is also more expensive making them a larger investment than the other options.
Popular Sport Fishing Boats People Live On
Fishing boats often come with an abundance of amenities that are used while fishing. These include things such as large coolers, specially designed chairs, in-deck fish boxes, and even fishing rod holders.
But, fishing boats can offer you much more than just a place that is tailor-made to fish. These boats can also be great liveaboard boats that allow you to live and enjoy your favorite pastime: fishing!
Types of Fishing Boats Include:
Motor Yacht & Fishing Boats
These types of boats are very similar to the other types of powerboats or yachts that you can encounter, with a few minor changes.
These boats are generally closed bow boats with a high cockpit. They include gunnels that are designed for wiring fish.
They often have oversized windshields that are designed with visibility in mind.
Why Live In A Sport Fishing Boat?
These boats can also offer you spacious room above and below deck for living full time. Some come with staterooms, full kitchens, oversized galleys, showers, and convertible sleeping accommodations.
Depending on the type that you get you could sleep three or more people per vessel.
One disadvantage to this type of boat is that there is not a lot of on deck lounge areas, as these are reserved to be utilized for fishing.
If you do not mind sitting out on the top of a bow than this should not be an issue.
They are also quite tall you will want to make sure you know what your clearance is for things such as bridges.
Trawlers People Live On
Trawlers are pleasure boats that have a resemblance to fishing trawlers. They often have a semi-displacement hull instead of a full displacement hull used by most fishing trawlers.
These boats have wide hulls, less draft, and hard chines. A hard chine means that there is little rounding in the front of the hull and is often a harder angle. These boats can have single or twin engines depending on need.
Types of Trawlers Include:
Live Aboard Trawler
The liveaboard trawler will be your best bet for full time living. These boats often have space on the front of the bow, and possible space at the stern for being outdoors.
They are normally manned from the inside and generally offer much more indoor space than outdoor space.
They are tough boats that were built to take some banging around if need be. They are meant to handle long distances and deep-sea conditions.
Most trawlers are on the older side but you can still find some companies that are coming out with new models today.
Why live on a Trawler?
Trawlers have many advantages for living. They have wider hulls than your typical sailboat, which allows for a more spacious interior. This allows for more people to move around comfortably in the living areas as well as the luxuries mentioned above.
You will be able to dine and entertain in style with large kitchens that can offer full-sized or close to full-sized appliances, plenty of seating space, sound and entertainment systems, and high levels of storage space.
With more space, also comes more comfort. They can offer entertainment areas both above and below deck and they even sometimes come with more than one.
These boats are stable and allow for easy access on and off the vessel. They also have less draft than other boats allowing them into shallower waters than boats with larger hulls, such as sailboats.
You also don’t have to worry about overhead clearance with these as you might with a sailboat or tall fishing boat.
Their engines are, however, noisy and consume a lot of fuel. They will require more maintenance than other vessels including inspections, tune-ups, and cleaning.
Yachts Used For Full-Time Living
There are many different types of boats that can fall under the “yacht” category. Technically a yacht is any watercraft that is used for pleasure that is over 23 feet long. However, generally, a boat is not classified as a yacht until it is at least 39 feet long.
Yachts can also be motor-powered or sailed. For the purpose of this article, we will assume each option in the yacht section is motor-powered because we have already gone over sailboats.
Types of Yachts Include:
1. Cabin Cruisers
A cabin cruiser is often a luxury vessel that ranges between 25 to 45 feet long, is motor-powered, and allows for accommodations for its passengers and potential crew.
These vessels are often equipped with a head (toilet), galley (kitchen), dining area, and berth (bed or other sleeping accommodation).
Amenities can range wildly depending on your vessel. But you might be equipped with hot water, air conditioning, or power generators.
Cabin cruisers offer very similar luxuries as a larger yacht, but on a smaller scale and for a smaller price.
2. Large Yachts
A yacht is classified as a large yacht when it is over 80 feet long. These often have higher standards for construction and can have certain specifications depending on their designation.
A large commercial yacht can generally not hold more than 12 passengers. A large private yacht should be used solely for the pleasure of the owners and guests and are generally not available to be chartered if owned by someone for recreational use.
These yachts have very similar luxuries to the cabin cruiser, just on a much higher scale.
3. Super or Mega Yacht
A superyacht, or mega yacht, is a large yacht that ranges from 80 feet to over 590 feet. These are professionally crewed vessels that cater to their guests in all aspects of the journey.
Unlike large yachts, superyachts can be available to charter. Depending on the owner of the yacht, or the particular journey, they might put emphasis on comfort or speed.
These yachts can be found most often in the Caribbean or Mediterranean.
These boats can have luxuries such as swimming pools, water toys, other boats, and even helicopters.
Why live On A Yacht?
Yachts are one of the most luxurious options for liveaboard boats, but they come at some of the highest costs.
The boats will make you feel like you are living in a luxurious mansion or upscale hotel with many available luxuries. These include multiple staterooms, heads with full-size showers, living room and entertainment areas, gourmet kitchens, and even media rooms.
They can include large decks, pools, hot tubs, bars, and other amenities that will make you feel like you aren’t on a boat at all.
Another advantage to living full time on a luxury yacht, if you can afford it, is a staff that can do everyday things like cook, clean, and even fix you a drink.
If you choose to go out on the water, you will most likely even have a captain and crew do the work for you so that you can just sit back and relax.
The biggest downfall of the yacht, or luxury yacht, is the price. This does not only include the purchase price, but the upkeep, staff salaries, and provisions needed to maintain the luxurious lifestyle expected on such a vessel.
These also often cannot be moored in a standard marina and you will have to find a designated yacht club to moor your vessel.
Popular House Boat Types For Full-Timers
If you want to live out on the water, but you do not need to move or go anywhere, you might want to consider a houseboat.
While it is possible to own a houseboat that can travel, it is often slow and costly.
Most houseboats are moored in one place and not motorized. They are also often tethered to the land to allow for utilities.
Depending on the type of houseboat you are looking for you can expect different types of features.
1. Canal Style Houseboat
A canal style houseboat is often long but not wide and is situated in a canal. These are very popular in Amsterdam and other places that feature wide canals through cities.
These houseboats can have features that include but are not limited to garden features, open decks, multiple windows, sliding glass doorways, and other outdoor amenities.
These boats are generally about the size of a single-wide mobile home. This allows them to stay in the canal without being in the way for other boat traffic.
2. Pontoon Style Houseboat
A pontoon-style houseboat is simply a pontoon with large enclosed living space on the deck.
Some of them feature deck space on either side and even deck coverings. These boats also often have a multitude of windows in the cabin space, which allows for an all-around view for anyone inside.
These boats may also feature a second floor.
3. Floating Home Houseboat
Some of the most immobile houseboats are simply floating homes.
These can be moored off the coast of an island, near the shoreline of a lake or ocean, off large docks that feature other houseboats for neighbors, in the middle of a lake, or even in a marina that is made for and caters to houseboats.
These houseboats often have large windows, deck spaces, and even multiple floors or wraparound porches.
A floating houseboat is simply a home that resides on water instead of land.
4. Leisurely Houseboat
These houseboats are often ones that are not moored in place and are instead designed to move around at a leisurely pace.
These boats are almost entirely made with a small perimeter of balustrade around the exterior.
They also often feature a large deck on top. This deck could be either covered or uncovered.
Even these boasts could be more than one story, despite their ability to move.
Why live on a Houseboat?
Houseboats are ideal vessels for people who want to keep the luxuries afforded from standard living, while also living on the water.
Houseboats can be cheaper than waterfront property and can make them ideal for all year living while still being on the waterfront. However, this is not true everywhere, so you will want to make sure you look at all your options.
These boats offer a variety of amenities that you would find in any standard house.
They are much more likely to have the basic needs and utilities that most people are used to and are comfortable with than the other styles of onboard living vessels.
Houseboats that are moored in a marina or other areas where houseboats are common can also allow you to be a part of a strong community of similarly minded people.
You can also do away with pesky land chores like lawn care.
Where To Moor Your Boat
Where to moor your boat will also be a decision.
You can moor it in a liveaboard marina so that you have more utilities and luxuries, or you can spend less money to moor in a mooring bay or harbor. This choice will affect not only your cost but your comfort level as well.
Mooring in a bay normally means no electricity hook-up or hot water. You will also have to take a dinghy back and forth every time you want to go from your home to shore. This can get quite annoying if you are also ferrying people, pets, groceries, or other supplies.
Liveaboard marinas are also hard to get into.
They often have waiting lists that can go on for years. If you choose to live in a liveaboard marina, make sure you have a spot, before you invest in a boat.
Test It Out Before Going Full-Time
Lastly, you will want to make sure you can handle this particular lifestyle. It’s not always easy and it is a big investment and a big change of lifestyle.
Before you set off for full time living on a boat you need to test it out.
One of the best ways to know if this lifestyle will work for you and your family would be to try it out first. There are ways that you can rent houseboats for a trial period that might give you a better picture of what you will be looking at in terms of change.
Living on a boat is a very minimalistic lifestyle that not everyone is suited for. But, if you are the type of person who loves adventure and fantastic views, who don’t need to be loaded down with material things or fine luxuries, living on a boat might just be the lifestyle for you.
Should I Live On a Boat?
Now that you know you have options out there, you are probably wondering if this is the proper life path for you.
No matter what type of boat you choose it is bound to be an adjustment and there will be many decisions that will need to be made.
These decisions include what type of boat to get, where to moor it, and whether or not you can handle the lifestyle.
What type of boat to get can depend on a large number of factors. You will want to take lifestyle into consideration. Depending on if you want to move around or stay in one place that will make an impact on the type of boat you choose.
Once you determine the type, you also have to determine size.
This will depend on how many people you intend to live with and how comfortable you are in cramped spaces.
You do not want to be constantly moving out of the way anytime anyone needs to move to a different area of the vessel if that’s not what you are comfortable with. Especially not when you are planning on staying on the boat full time.
Think of a lifetime of sitting on the edge of a booth at a restaurant and always having to move to let people out. This is what drives people to
Budget is also the main component of your liveaboard adventure. You will need to factor in the cost of the boat, the cost associated with where to moor it, the cost associated with running the vessel, and the cost associated with maintenance.
These expenses can quickly add up so you will want to make a budget and stick with it.
Shelby Sullivan is our specialist when it comes to pontoon boats and recreational watercraft. She is often found sailing the freshwater lakes of Michigan. She is also a light-traveler who enjoys camping and traveling the world. Read more about Shelby here.