Nothing says the “good life” like owning a boat. For some individuals, the dream of owning a boat is so alluring that they assume that either a financial loan or several years of savings is all it takes to make the dream a reality. Unfortunately, many people jump into boat ownership unaware that the up-front cost of the vessel is just one expense among many. Boat ownership is a serious responsibility and the long-term expenses can sometimes exceed the initial cost.
Most people own vessels under 25 feet in length, which run an average of $18,000. Annual expenses average to roughly 10 percent of the boat’s initial cost. But that’s not all. The cost of fuel, dockage, insurance, maintenance, and repairs is another expense to factor into the equation. Buying a fuel-efficient boat can help to minimize costs, but these kinds of vessels may require more money up-front.
Potential boat owners should also consider the fact that they will have to pay taxes on the purchase price of the vessel —not to mention the dealer’s fees. Brokers and dealers in Florida, for instance, impose a 6 percent “sales and use tax”. The good news is that boats are not subject to property tax.
Another cost is insurance. Insurance fees can quickly add up. In states that are prone to natural disasters, like hurricanes, insurance rates are much higher. Boat owners can expect to pay 1.5 percent of the vessel’s value in insurance fees each year on average. This is a necessary cost that cannot be avoided. As any boating accident lawyer at our firm can explain, insurance can actually help you save thousands of dollars should you become involved in a collision or should your vessel capsize or become damaged in any way.
Docking fees also need to be considered, especially if you plan to travel in your boat. Some locations charge several dollars per foot per night, but some of the more premier locations can cost you anywhere from $100 a night or more. If the vessel is being stored in an enclosed area or dry dock for prolonged periods of time, owners can expect to pay thousands in fees per year.
Let’s not forget maintenance and repairs. Not only can these factors be costly, they can also be very time consuming. Cleaning, re-painting, waxing, and fixing any damaged equipment on the boat comes with the territory of owning a vessel. For some, this time is part of the joy of owning a boat, but for others who opt out of self-maintenance projects, additional costs have to be taken into account when it comes to hiring others to perform these tasks. Furthermore, the fact that boat owners must abide by the Coast Guard’s requirements for safety equipment can lead to overwhelming expenses, especially since safety technology can become obsolete rather quickly.
Boat ownership is not a decision to be made lightly. Potential buyers should write up a careful budget, taking into account emergency expenses that can arise. With proper planning, you can make a wise choice when deciding if owning a boat is for you.