Thursday, June 16, 2016

6 Things to Know Before Buying a Liveaboard Boat

As some of you know, the process of buying our liveaboard boat was fraught with difficulty, delays, and unnecessary stress. We sold our home on April 29th-- packed up, said our goodbyes, and hit the road for DC-- mistakenly thinking we were going to close on the boat on May 9th. No big deal, right? We had made arrangements to spend the intervening week with Mark's family. 

Except we didn't close on May 9th. Or May 10th. Or May 11th. Or even May 20th for that matter.
Somehow, our marine lender kept delaying, with last-minute requirements for additional paperwork. Talk about utterly infuriating! Not only were the delays causing us to needlessly spend money on interim housing, but we were also so worried that the seller would back out of the deal. Every day, I was worried-- searching for back up apartments and biting my nails over the dog. What on earth will we do with Solo? Where will we live with a pitbull? These thoughts kept roiling in my mind. There may or may not have been one or two sobbing shower breakdowns. 

Fortunately, the seller stuck with us-- and over a month after selling our house, we finally closed on the boat on June 3rd. Sheesh! Talk about a process!

So today, I wanted to share a few things that I wish I had known before jumping into this liveaboard process. If you have ever considered living on a boat or know someone who is considering it, make sure tha they read this list first! It has been a really cool experience thus far, but man-- what an ordeal. Without further ado...

Six Things to Know Before Buying a Liveaboard:

Be prepared to struggle finding financing.
Before the recession, banks gave out loans liberally. Thus, it was no big deal to go take out a marine loan and buy your liveaboard-- even though boats are depreciating assets. Fast forward to 2016, however, and no one-- I repeat NO ONE-- wants to finance a liveaboard. Even though we both have good credit and the amount of money we needed was so small (less than most cars!), we couldn't find any marine lenders or banks who would loan it to us. After weeks of searching, we finally did find financing with this bank, but even that was incredibly difficult. 

My suggestion? Either purchase the boat while you still have a land address or purchase a boat cheap enough that you don't need financing. 

Be prepared to pay for haul-out and a marine survey. 
I can't stress enough the importance of this part of the buying process. While having the boat captained, hauled out, and surveyed can be pricey, the expense is worth it. You should walk away knowing everything-- big and small- that is up with the boat. Our seller was pretty honest, so we didn't have any surprises, but I still appreciate the peace of mind that came with having the survey done. After receiving the report, I felt like we had a good idea of what we were purchasing. 

Be prepared for the whole process to take a really long time
As i mentioned earlier, our closing date was delayed again and again for over a month. At first, I thought that it was just us or something about the boat. But after talking with a few other liveaboards at our marina, I found out that closing delays are just par for the course with buying a liveaboard. Prepare yourself going in that this thing could take a while. Even after you get the boat, documenting it with the Coast Guard ... that also can take awhile. 

Be prepared to find interim housing if you're selling your home to move aboard. 
My advice in this vein would be don't buy a liveaboard boat if you don't have anywhere to go while you wait. just don't. I think my stomach is more ulcer than stomach at this point. If you absolutely have to sell your home in order to move onto a liveaboard boat, budget for interim housing situations. 

Be prepared to seriously pare down your belongings.
Before we sold out house, I went through every room and seriously looked at every single thing I owned. Was the item useful or just decorative? Was it an heirloom? Did I actually like it? If it wasn't used or wasn't sentimentally valuable, it was sold, donated, or pitched. Literally we pared down our belongings to two truckbed loads. (A few things, like antique pieces I couldn't part with, went into storage.) Even so, I still feel like we have too much stuff for the boat's storage capacity. I have to say though, there's something really refreshing about getting rid of all the excess stuff you own, the stuff you don't need or use or even really want. 

Be prepared for some things to be really different-- like the toilet, for example. 
Oh. My. Goodness. This was almost a deal breaker. (It's about to get real people, so just brace yourselves.) We have an electric toilet... which essentially is like going potty on a garbage disposal. It. Was. Horrifying. I nearly leaped onto the bed to get away from the scary grinding loud horrific beast that had revealed itself to be lurking in the seemingly innocuous potty. I am not exaggerating when I say that I had to pep talk myself to use the restroom. All that aside, you will eventually get used to the weirdness of a boat's bathroom. It's been two weeks now, and I am getting over my potty phobia. Just be aware that boat bathrooms may look like an RV restroom, but they are a different creature entirely. 

And most of all, be prepared to have some fun! 
It's going to be an adventure from start to finish, but you can say you did it. 

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