Reasons Boats Are Cheaper In Europe (Explained!)

Boats are a significant investment for most people.

Getting the best price is of paramount importance if you want to make your investment count.  However, one must not become overzealous when seeking a good price, especially in the international market.

If you are considering buying a boat in Europe, make sure you fully understand all factors involved. 

Things can get complicated quickly, and determining the true cost of a boat from Europe can be difficult.

In this article, we will explore the factors you should consider when looking at European boat prices:

Are Boats Really Cheaper in Europe than in the United States?

Boats in Europe do tend to be cheaper depending on what kind of boat you are looking for and where it is located.

Sailboats on the northern Mediterranean coast tend to be cheaper, but cabin cruisers and luxury boats not so much. 

If you plan to bring the boat to the United States, the costs involved may well eat up any savings from the price.

How Much Cheaper Are Boats?

For a sailboat, prices can be substantially lower in certain countries.

For example, a 2001-2004 Beneteau 473 sailboat is about $70,000.00 less in some places in Europe when compared to the United States.  

Cabin Cruisers, on the other hand, can be the same price or even slightly more expensive in Europe:

  • A 2007 Four Winns 288 is about the same price in Europe as it is in the US.
  • A 2007 Four Winns 318 Vista is actually $13,000.00 more expensive in Europe.

What is the Cheapest Place in Europe to Buy a Boat?

Croatia, Greece, and Turkey are the cheapest places in Europe to buy a boat, depending on the boat.

Out of these three, Croatia is the cheapest. It seems; however markets can vary:

Why Are Boats Cheaper in Croatia?

Market forces can be hard to pin down. However, in this case, boat prices are cheaper due to increased supply and a lower standard of living when compared to the US and UK.

Croatia has a thriving charter industry that requires regular upgrades to charter fleets.

As charter companies upgrade their fleets, they sell the previous models on the open market. This increases supply driving down prices. 

When you couple this with lower prices on all goods in general and factor in exchange rates, boat prices can be significantly cheaper.

Should You Buy a Boat in Europe?

Depending on the type of boat and what you plan to use it for, buying in Europe may be the way to go.

However, make sure to do your research, factor in all costs associated with the purchase, and be prepared for tons of government red tape if you plan to bring the boat to the US.

Getting a boat at a good price is only the first consideration.  If you plan to bring the boat outside of Europe, expenses start racking up quickly.

Here are a few factors to consider:

Taxes:

Death and taxes are the only two guarantees in this life, and boats are no exception.

There are Value-Added Taxes(VAT) in Europe, sales taxes in the US, and potential luxury taxes on both sides. 

Add to that hidden bureaucratic fees, and there is seemingly no end to the ways governments look to profit from your purchase.

This means that, when all is said and done, it may be just as pricey or not much cheaper to buy a boat in Europe and then get it shipped to the US.

Logistics:

If you plan to use your boat in and around Europe, then purchasing there may be the way to go, but if you plan to bring your boat to the US, then make sure to factor in the costs of getting your boat across the ocean.

If you have the skills and the patience to prepare, you may consider sailing across on your own, but do not attempt this if you are unsure in any way.

Shipping costs will vary depending on the size and type of boat but expect to pay $5,000.00-$15,000.00 just in shipping costs. 

Don’t forget to include travel costs to get to the boat and factor in how long you will need to stay to complete the sale.

Another consideration is time differences.  It can be a hassle to do business in Europe from the US if you cannot be available during local working hours.

Compatibility:

If you bring a boat to the US from Europe, you will most assuredly run into compatibility issues with at least the electrical system.

Chances are you will need to replace all wiring, outlets, and electrical equipment to run on 120V AC if coming to the US.

Other systems may need to be replaced as well, such as the LPG fittings.

This will not be cheap and may negatively impact resale value.

Legal Issues:

There is a quagmire of potential legal problems from differences in notary services to translation problems to insurance requirements when bringing a boat to the US from Europe.

Consumer protection laws are another legal aspect to consider.  Does the country you plan to purchase in have the same protections as the US?

Caveat emptor(let the buyer beware) certainly applies in this case.

Cultural Differences:

Anytime you deal in the international community, you must consider local cultures:

  • What should you expect in terms of customer service?
  • What hours do locals tend to work?
  • Does the country prioritize the rights of the consumer or the rights of the business?
  • Are there any local customs that might impact your purchase experience?

These are all questions worth answering while you are planning your purchase.

Final Thoughts:

In the end, buying in Europe seems only to make sense if you plan to use the boat in Europe.

Even when there is such a huge price difference, the savings are quickly eaten up in taxes, refitting the boat, shipping costs, brokers fees, and legal fees.

If you plan to buy in Europe, make sure to do thorough research and use a qualified broker.

As always, I hope you have peaceful travels, fair winds, and calm water.

Be safe and watch out for your fellow boaters!

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