Off Grid Boat Living: The Ultimate How-To Guide

Have you ever watched scenes in Hollywood movies of characters living on boats and wished for the experience? I have wished for simple but beautiful boat life in the Maldives, although it looks expensive. 

Regardless of where you are, off-grid boat living can be a dream come true. It is becoming popular for people to spend a vacation moving from coast to coast. It is considered cost-effective, with many people praising gratifying culinary experience. 

You can even live on a boat for free if you become self-sufficient, invest in free water and energy, avoid taxes, anchor in free locations, and find free food. Of course, an off grid boat living will be challenging, but you can reduce your expenses.

But before buying or hiring a boat to live off-grid, what do you need to adequately prepare for this exquisite experience?

We provide all you need to know about off-grid boat living. So, continue reading to find out. 

If you are new to an Off-Grid Lifestyle, I encourage you to check out this article to find out 11 Things to Consider before going off the grid.

Off Grid Boat Living - The Ultimate How-To Guide
Off Grid Boat Living: The Ultimate How-To Guide –

How To Live On a Boat

You can live on a boat successfully if you have all the essential items. Let’s consider what you need.

1- Buy Or Rent a Boat

If you don’t have a boat, you could probably buy or hire one. You can get some boats with a mortgage and pay slowly as you enjoy your stay. If you intend to cruise or move around a lot, you can pick a sailboat as your living space. 

Motorboats consume a lot of fuel; since fuel prices have skyrocketed, they can prove expensive. A sailboat goes where the wind takes you if you know sailing. 

However, buying a new sailboat can also be expensive. So, you can search for a good new or second-hand sailboat for a manageable price, ranging from $25,000 to $160,000. The prices depend on the classes and conditions of the sailboat.

Check the table below for an idea of popular sailboats and their average costs.

Boat Types Average Monthly CostAverage One-Time Cost
Catalina 22′$115$2,500
Island Packet 26′$470$25,000
Ocean cruiser 35′$450$38,000
Luxury yacht 40′$1,300$166,000
Table Displays Popular Sailboats and How Much They Cost On Average –

2- Source Of Energy On The Boat

Since you intend to live off-grid in a boat, you will have no access to the power grid system on transit. So, how will you fulfill your power needs? 

Solar or wind energy is the answer. The sun is free, meaning you will eliminate the cost of electricity. However, you will need to buy and install solar panels before you start living on the boat. 

The last few decades have seen the price of solar panels reduce considerably, making them affordable for regular households. The efficiency of these solar panels has also increased, which means you need only a few panels to supply you with power. 

You can harness the excess energy from the panels on batteries and use it for lighting the room or operating the fan at night. Solar panels are expenses you want to factor in when determining the cost of living off-grid on a boat

If the sun is not strong in one area, you can always sail to where you can achieve optimal solar supply. You will pay approximately $1,000 for installing a solar system with a one-150Wp solar panel on your boat. 

You might wonder about Propane Or Solar; which one should you choose for Living Off-Grid? I wrote an article, and I encourage you to check it out.

3- Food

Regardless of where you live, food is necessary for survival. If you live on an off-grid boat, you can get free food by fishing. If you live on a boat at sea, we want to assume that you know how to fish and that your main source of protein will be fish. 

You can invest in a Chartplotter to help you know where the fish are for a better catch. This technology is not as expensive as it used to be, so don’t worry; you will not break your bank account. 

Besides fishing, you can also get free food by practicing seasteading. Seasteading is an excellent source of free food since you will harvest from your sailboat garden. It is also called sailboat homesteading. 

However, you will likely encounter two challenges: a thin layer of soil and salty water for your vegetables. You can plant vegetables and herbs that can flourish in salty water. 

With practice, you can master managing a small garden of vegetables on deck to serve as free food. 

Alternatively, you can visit cheap markets for fresh vegetables and other groceries from the nearby market. Living on a boat allows you to have a good relationship with anglers who may sell you fish at a cheaper price if you don’t know how to catch your own. 

You can also try canning as it saves money and prevents waste. If you are interested, I suggest checking out the Complete Ball book of canning on Amazon. This book has excellent instructions and hundreds of recipes.

4- Boat Maintenance

If you live on a motorboat or a sailboat, you will need to conduct regular maintenance to keep it operational. Boat maintenance requires investment; you cannot have a free pass for zero dollars. 

If you ignore maintenance, you will pay more down the line when it breaks down. Ensure the engine is properly oiled and the boat is protected against rust. You could also do bottom cleaning and antifouling to keep the boat clean. 

Check out the video below for more details on how much it costs to own a boat, its initial purchase, and all fixed costs related to owning a boat.

Off Grid Boat Living: The Ultimate How-To Guide –

5- Waste Management

Throwing garbage into the seawater would be unethical and illegal. Therefore, when you are living on a boat, you need a proper waste management plan. Where will your human waste go? 

Since your poop will be held on the boat’s tank, it can only hold so much. You will need to dispose of the waste, but know the laws that govern national waters. Generally, it is illegal to empty the tank near the shore, protected areas, or certain mooring fields. 

The challenge comes when dealing with a malfunctioning marine toilet. Nothing makes you long for the modern sewer systems like a sweet smell of shit on a boat!

You can use a boat toilet or a composting toilet which you can empty when you dock. Since garbage companies collect garbage, you will incur the cost. If the boat has no toilet, buy and install a composting toilet. When the toilet is full, you can sail to the harbor and dispose of the waste.

Other expenses you may have to contend with include insurance premiums for your boat. Most states dictate that a boat have insurance for sailing on the harbors. You will pay the docking fee unless you have docked on free harbors.

If you are interested in installing composting toilet on your boat, I wrote an article on the top 5 Composting Toilets, particularly for off-grid living, that I encourage you to read.

How To Minimize The Cost Of Living On a Boat

The truth is that purchasing and maintaining a boat skyrockets real fast. However, when King Neptune wants you to serve him eternally, you need to find ways to make your life on board comfortable. 

Most people go for off-grid boat living because they want to minimize their cost of living. Here are practical tips to help you hack off-grid boat living. 

  • Buy a fully functional boat than the one you will need to fix before it can sail. Buying a cheap project or broken boat may cost you more in the long run. 
  • Learn DIY repairs to fix breakages, unless your regular routes include Rio Dulce, where you will find cheap repairs.
  • Get used to anchoring your boat on free spaces than staying in expensive marinas
  • Work at a friend’s boat to learn the ropes from the master before acquiring your own. Learning from scratch with your own boat can be risky because there is a lot to learn, and dire mistakes can happen along the way. 
  • Have a passive source of income or earn money online. You may even pay your mortgage while working from your boat.
  • Write down a workable budget that allows you to minimize expenses and enhance your savings
  • Learning fishing to reduce the cost of food. You can catch salmon for dinner or crabs for a midnight snack.
  • Since you may not have a fridge on deck for storing bulk purchases, identify a cheaper market along your route for provisions and foodstuff. 

Advantages Of Off-Grid Boat Living

What are the advantages of going off-grid with a boat?

1- Affordability

Living on a boat is considerably cheaper than in a traditional home because once you have bought the boat, you live rent-free. You will also not pay council tax.

However, if you have a permanent mooring or the cost of houses is cheap, living in a boat may not be a cheaper alternative

2- Eco-friendly

Living on a boat consumes less energy than in a traditional home. On a sailboat, you may primarily rely on wind and solar for clean energy sources.

Living on a boat can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

3- Lifestyle

Off-grid boat living offers a calmer lifestyle closer to nature than urban settlements.

You will experience certain freedom that is not available in the stressful and fast-paced city life.

Disadvantages Of Off-Grid Boat Living

Living on a boat is not all romantic; it has its drawbacks. 

4- Hard Work

It takes a lot of hard work to make life on a boat bearable, especially if you have a crew and are constantly on the move. A boat with no permanent mooring should move every 14 days. 

Boat maintenance is hard work that can leave you exhausted. Emptying shit deep sea is not a pleasant experience. Other tasks include navigating locks, burning the fire to keep the shivering winter cold out, and tying the boat properly to prevent it from wrecking.

5- Day-To-Day Life Can Be Challenging

Since you have no permanent address, managing day-to-day life activities such as getting a post, voting in an election, or having a proper internet connection is challenging

The cost of running the boat can rise fast if you experience a major knock like an engine malfunction. 

6- Safety And Security

Your boat can be moored along a dark towpath causing damage. Walking to your boat late at night may not be safe since boats are susceptible to burglary. 

Is It Cheaper To Live On a Boat Than a House?

Living in a boat is generally cheaper than living in a house. Living on a boat requires paying less for amenities and monthly bills than living in a house. However, a boat generally has a high initial cost and notably lower monthly costs.

Many people choose to stay on a boat instead of a house. It is often cheaper to live on a boat in comparison to a house. The utility expenditure on the boat is quite less than on the house. In the case of living in the house, you carry more area and other expenses. In the boat, you carry less space, and expenditure is also less there.

On a boat, electricity charges are low because of low usage. The lesser the area you occupy, the lesser the charges you have to pay. In terms of water usage, it is also low. As boats are designed to carry a variable amount of water in them. If you run out of water, in case, there is a refill system to fill the water storage again.

But you may have enough budget to maintain your boat properly. In case of tax or repairing of any part necessary to operate a boat can charge you money.

People also had difficulty mooring the boat. The space to moor is not easily available. You may have to strive for it or spend huge pennies over it. The problem is to stand your boat on the sea. Again, you may get hurdles or competition in finding suitable space to stand your boat safely.

Living on a boat also requires building skills, including survival hacks and food requirements.

Best Places To Live Off Grid On a Boat 

  • Corpus Christi, Texas
  • Chesapeake Bay, Maryland
  • Green Bay, Wisconsin
  • Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri
  • Long Island, New York
  •  San Diego, California
  • Tampa Bay, Florida

Can You Live Off The Grid On a Boat?

Living off the grid on a boat (also called seasteading) is possible; however, you will need to learn how to become self-sufficient, including investing in free energy and water, finding free food sources, anchoring in free locations and avoiding taxes (not evading taxes). 

The most crucial factor is to select the appropriate boat. Having a well-arranged boat adds to your security factor while you are staying in one. Several factors are listed below which can influence the boat living off the grid on a boat.

  • Proper leakage protection
  • Appropriate anchoring
  • Better location assessment
  • Basic boat maintenance
  • Boat repairing tools

One can live off the grid on the boat by fulfilling these parameters. One must have a continuous and permanent supply of food. It may take an extra budget to cook seafood on a boat. One needs clean drinking water regularly. Mooring is also an influential factor to ponder.

You can easily attach your boat with hard support. This is mostly an implied method to anchor a boat with cement or other wooden anchoring on the ground. It may take a little monthly fee to pay for.

Final thoughts

Off-grid boat living can be a dream come true for many of us; however, it is hard work to keep your boat in good condition for sailing. It takes much planning to ensure you have enough supplies and other necessities while on the boat. 

This guide has shown what a sailor must know and how they can make boat living enjoyable.


Hello friends, I am Altiné. I am SO excited you are here! I am the person behind Off The Grid Planet. Off The Grid Planet is about off-grid living, homesteading, and self-sufficiency: learning self-reliance, sustainable homes, gardening, survival, preparedness, and renewable energy and inspire you to live a simple life. I do my best to bring you the most correct, up-to-date, and comprehensive information on these topics.

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