You have most likely watched one or two YouTube videos about living on a catamaran. You can sail to amazing destinations, immerse yourself in a wide variety of different cultures and answer the call of the sea.
The lifestyle is extremely appealing and conjures visions of exotic ports, soft ocean breezes and the sweetest of dreams. Before you decide to completely change your lifestyle, you need to be aware of the cost involved.
If you intend to live on a catamaran full time, your overall cost is between $3,000 and $12,000 per month. This is dependent on whether you are single, have a family, boat maintenance and the size, condition and age of your catamaran.
There are also numerous variables you need to consider such as your lifestyle, hobbies, the amount of time you spend traveling, your region and whether you spend most of your time in a marina or at anchor.
Your location will impact your cost. If you are in the United States, your cost is cheaper provided you’re choosing to anchor as opposed to using marinas. If you prefer an island in the Caribbean or the Bahamas, your cost increases significantly. This is because everything available on an island, such as food and spare parts, must be shipped in. Your best option is to stock up on everything you can including water before you leave the mainland.
Travelling by sailboat in the South Pacific is a lot more expensive than in South America. If you plan to cruise the South Pacific or the Mediterranian for at least six months, your cost will increase by roughly 50 per cent in comparison to numerous areas in the western hemisphere. Before you set sail, research your desired location to prepare yourself for the costs.
You need to take your lifestyle into consideration. If your lifestyle on land is considered extravagant, your cost to live on a catamaran will be at the higher end. If you are willing to make a few sacrifices, you can lower your cost considerably. Do you require premium foods and beverages? Will you be satisfied with the local cuisine or catching your own fish? Are you willing to pay extra for your local brands?
The amount you are currently spending on food will not change much. You can reduce your expenses by eating on your catamaran and only dining out occasionally. In addition to exploring the beaches and oceans, you will be spending time on land. Do you intend to spend time in hotels or sleep on your boat? A lot of people visit the Mediterranian specifically for the culture and food.
Keep in mind you can spend time enjoying the local culture without eating at expensive restaurants or purchasing costly souvenirs. Spending your time learning about the culture, meeting new people and socializing is not expensive. Yes, you will need to leave your boat, but the way you spend your time when you do will affect your costs. Are you willing to settle for inexpensive cuisine or do you require only the best?
Depending on where you live, you may be accustomed to having air conditioning. Do you require a catamaran with air conditioning? Will you be satisfied with the fresh air coming from wind scoops and keeping out the rain? Do you need air conditioning when you are sleeping? If you are traveling to a cool destination, this is not an issue. If you plan to sail to the hot and humid tropics, air conditioning will increase your costs to the higher end of the scale.
Marinas and Fees
Do you plan to spend a lot of time in a marina or will you be content at anchor. The more time you spend in a marina, the higher your costs. Depending on your catamaran, you will only need to be in a marina for two days for every 10 you spend at anchor. This is more than enough time to fill your fresh water tanks, pump out your black water tanks, connect to power to ensure your batteries are charged and do your laundry.
The majority of marinas provide laundry facilities. Do you plan to use them or send your laundry out for cleaning when in a marina? You also need to consider the marina fees. The costs differ for each marina and location. Your cost will be about 50 percent more for a catamaran than a monohull. Your average cost per night is between $1.25 and $3.00 per foot. If you have a larger boat, your cost per foot can increase.
If you are staying for a minimum of six nights, your cost will decrease. You need to include these costs in your budget. Do you plan to purchase a catamaran enabling you to live off the grid? If so, all you need to do is plugin, get recharged, clean up and head back out. You may have no choice other than a marina when there is a tropical depression or the weather turns bad. You can save money by avoiding certain regions during cyclone and hurricane season.
Living at Anchor
Living at anchor is often called boondocking or living off the grid. This is when you do not have access to water, electricity or sewer. If you intend to save money by living this lifestyle, you need to be prepared. This means making certain you have enough electricity and water and big enough tanks for your sewage until it can be properly dumped.
The available solar power must be enough for your lifestyle. Your batteries must be able to store the power you require. Consider how often your generator will be running. This will require plenty of fuel and increase your expenses. Before you proceed, you need to decide exactly how you plan to live, make the necessary preparations and ensure you have enough money to cover your expenses.
Do you plan to drink while you are cruising? If you are on a budget, limiting your alcohol consumption will save you a lot of money. You can also drink what the locals prefer as opposed to an expensive import. The cost of alcohol depends on your location. In some areas drinking in a restaurant or bar is significantly cheaper than drinking on your catamaran. Your lifestyle will determine how much you spend on alcohol.
Maintenance and Repairs
One of your biggest expenses will be maintenance and repairs. Your boat will take a lot of abuse. The more you sail, the higher your maintenance costs. Do you plan to purchase a new boat or will you be satisfied with an older model? Maintenance and repairs will cost you less for an older catamaran. Approximately 10 percent of your cost per year will be for maintenance and must be included in your budget.
Repairs are simply a part of living on a catamaran. Do you have the knowledge and skill necessary to make some or all of the repairs yourself? If you pay for repairs, your cost will depend on the region you are in. If you budget for more than you spend, the extra money can always be used for your budget next year.
Water Makers vs Water Tanks
Do you plan to purchase a catamaran with a water maker or a water tank. If you do not intend to visit a marina often, consider purchasing a water maker. Your cost will be between $8,000 and $10,000. Your water maker will require electricity for the pump necessary to force the water through the filters. Will your water maker require a generator or run off solar power?
If you intend to use fresh water tanks, you will need a way to capture the rain. You can purchase a boat with a trough system. This will enable you to capture and divert rainwater. You can also purchase a catamaran with its own system. Your costs will be affected by your choice.
Sewage Tank vs Composting Toilet
You need to give some thought to sewage. If you are far enough from land, your sewage can be dumped acceptably and safely due to the size of the ocean. In many regions, you will be unable to dump your sewage when you are within a certain distance of the mainland or an island. You do not want to dump your sewage when at anchor because it will affect anyone diving around your boat and can wash up on the local beach. You need to determine how often your tank will need to be dumped.
One of your options is a composting toilet. You can use this type of toilet for a significantly longer period of time before you have to dump. If your catamaran does not already have one, consider having it installed. Yes, there is a bit of a learning curve. Despite this, you should be able to get used to it fairly easily. A lot of sailors claim there is less odor from a composting toilet than an electric model.
Hobbies and Activities
You need to decide what you want to do during your free time. You will not always be sailing, cleaning your boat or repairing your catamaran. Even though working on your boat will require a lot of time, you will have plenty of free time as well. Are you interested in snorkeling, scuba diving, free diving, hiking, surfing, exploring, touring, paddle boarding, fishing, kiteboarding, writing or reading? You need to figure out the cost of your hobbies and activities and include it in your budget.
Sailing vs Motoring
The advantage of sailboats as opposed to power boats is you can sail or use the motor. You will need to use your motor at certain times due to the currents and weather patterns in the region. You need to be aware of the weather for each season in the region you have chosen to sail and plan ahead. A good example is the extra fuel you will burn due to heavy winds.
You will be able to sail more, motor less and save a lot of money if you are patient and do not enforce any deadlines. You need to have an idea as to how often you will be using your motor to plan for the expense of your fuel. Your costs will also be affected by the season in which you are visiting the region.
Rental and Touring Vehicles
Although touring is considered a hobby, it is often classified as a special item. If you plan to visit an area with incredible on-shore excursions, you need to be sure you have enough money in your budget to cover the expense. The last thing you want is to sail to an area you have been dreaming about only to discover you do not have enough money to participate in most of the activities.
Depending on the area, you may need to budget for a rental car and a place to stay. If you plan ahead, you will not be forced to remain on your catamaran when there places you want to visit, cuisine you have been looking forward to trying and cultures you want to spend some time exploring.
Type of Catamaran
Your cost will be affected by the size, age, condition and type of catamaran you decide to purchase. The difference in cost for a catamaran a few years older is in the thousands. If you are handy consider buying a boat that requires a little work. Look at the condition of the boat including the sails, dingy and electronics. If you purchase a catamaran in the Caribbean you will pay an average of 10 to 15 percent less than purchasing the same boat in the United States.
If you do not have the funds to purchase your catamaran upfront, you can get the same type of financing you would with a car or home. Every company has different qualifications and interest rates. The amount of your downpayment and interest rate depend on numerous factors including your FICO score and the age of the boat. The interest rates are consistently changing.
Your best option is a lender specializing in marine loans. In most cases, you should be able to secure a decent rate. Make certain the lender you do business with is reputable, and check the clauses as you want a lender who allows you to take your boat into international waters.