How Much Money Does It Take to Buy a Boat?


To many people, boats are a privilege of the luxury class. In our movies and TV shows, yachts are usually enjoyed by beautiful rich people in expensive clothes – and if you don't know many people who have a boat of their own, you may think this reflects reality.

There are definitely lots of rich people who enjoy boating, but that doesn't mean you have to be rich to have your own boat. In fact, boats are much more affordable than most people think initially.

Exactly how much money does it take to buy a boat, and how much money do you need to make to get there?

The Cheapest Boats

Let's start by analysing some of the cheapest boats that you can get. We're not talking about yachts or super yachts that cost millions. We're talking about affordable vessels that anyone with a decent salary should be able to pick up, even if it takes a while to save up the money.

  • Small, all-purpose boats. Small, all-purpose boats tend to be inexpensive because they don't require many materials to make, and they're perfectly suited to a number of basic tasks. Depending on the specific model you're looking at, a new boat here could cost anywhere from 10,000 to 20,000 pounds/euros/dollars.
  • Skiffs. “Skiff” is a generic term that refers to a number of different styles of small boats, typically used as a leisure craft around rivers and small bodies of water. Because there are so many different boats that fit this term, it's impossible to give an accurate price range, but you can probably find a new skiff for under 20,000 pounds/euros/dollars if you know where to look.
  • Used boats. New boats come with a lot of plus points, but what about used boats? Much like cars or any vehicle, boats depreciate quickly. From the moment you drive the boat off the lot, so to speak, the value of that vessel is going to drop. You can often find a vessel that's only a year or two old for a much lower price than you could buy new; if you're willing to look at vessels that are many years old and need some work before they can operate smoothly again, you can find an even better deal. A relatively new craft that's only been used a handful of times will still set you back five figures in most cases, but if you're willing to look past a few flaws, you may be able to pick up a boat for a few thousand pounds/euros/dollars.

One thing to keep in mind here is that the cheapest boat isn't always the best purchase. Sometimes, spending a bit more is advantageous, both financially and practically. For example, you might be able to find a worn-down vessel for 4,000 pounds/euros/dollars, but if you spend another 5,000 fixing it up, you might end up overpaying for the vessel anyway. Similarly, some of the cheapest models on the market are cheap because of how they're built – and they're not always the most reliable. If you care about your safety or the longevity of your vessel, don't instantly turn to the lowest price you can find.

Multiple Ways to Buy

It's also important to note that there are several different ways that you can buy a boat. If it seems like you can't afford the sticker price, there may be alternative options available for you.

  • All in cash. The most obvious and straightforward way to buy a boat is with all cash. If the boat costs 10,000 pounds/euros/dollars, you can wire that 10,000 immediately, and the boat will be yours. If you want to buy a boat this way, you’ll likely need to spend time accumulating savings to afford your purchase.
  • Financing. More commonly, people finance their boat purchases. In this scenario, you'll provide a down payment but with the boat, often something like 10 percent or 20 percent of the purchase price. You'll get a loan for the remaining cost of the boat, usually at a relatively low interest rate. From there, you'll make monthly payments (often in the hundreds of pounds/euros/dollars) for a period of a few years until the boat is paid off. Financing makes boat ownership a much more realistic possibility for the majority of the population. You'll pay a bit more than the purchase price of the boat because of the interest rate, but you won't have to save up all the money for your boat at once.
  • Trades/bartering. If you can't make financing work, there's another possible way to buy a boat: trades and bartering. If you find any boat owner who's willing to play ball, you can offer them an interesting trade for their vessel, requiring no money whatsoever.

Additional Costs of Boat Ownership

One final note on the topic of boat affordability; the initial cost of the boat is only one expense you'll have to consider. To determine whether you can't afford a boat, you'll need to keep the following extra costs in mind.

  • Fuel. Without fuel, your boat won’t get far.
  • Insurance. Insurance is mandatory in some areas, and strongly recommended in others.
  • Licensing and documentation. You may need to register your craft or become a licensed captain.
  • Maintenance and repairs. All boats need maintenance and repairs – especially older boats that have been heavily used.
  • Docking and storage. You need to store your boat somewhere when you aren’t using it.
  • Peripheral expenses. Fishing gear, lifejackets, first aid kits, and other costs also come into play.

How Much Money Does It Take to Buy a Boat?

So how much money does it really take to buy a boat? As we've seen, you can become the owner of a nice used vessel or a small craft for under 20,000 pounds/euros/dollars, and possibly under 10,000. If you're willing to finance your boat, or if you're willing to make a trade, you may have an even wider range of possibilities.

Are you ready to start shopping for your next new or used vessel? Check out our listings at TheYachtMarket today!

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