How Much Does a Boat Cost

How Much Does a Boat Cost?

Last Updated on January 12, 2024
Written by CPA Alec Pow | Content Reviewed by Certified CFA CFA Alexander Popinker

If you’ve ever dreamed of owning a boat and spending sunny days cruising the open waters, you’ve probably wondered: how much does a boat cost? The answer isn’t quite as simple as you might think. While the purchase price of a boat is certainly a major factor, there are plenty of other costs to consider when determining the total price tag of boat ownership.

In this article, we’ll break down the true cost of owning a boat. We’ll look at the purchase price, maintenance, and repairs, insurance, storage, and transportation – all the little expenses that add up over time. By the end, you’ll have a clear understanding of how much it really costs to own a boat.

Highlights

Owning a boat can be extremely rewarding, but it’s a big commitment from a cost perspective.Here are the key things to keep in mind:

  • New boat costs can range from around $10,000 for a small aluminum fishing boat up to millions of dollars for a large yacht
  • The purchase price is just one piece of the total cost – maintenance, insurance, storage, and gear make up a significant portion of expenses.
  • Budget for surprise repairs – boats break down more than cars. Build an emergency fund to cover major issues.
  • Storage and transportation costs add up, especially if using a marina. Factor in fees, fuel, and maintenance for your vehicle and trailer.
  • Don’t underestimate “hidden” costs for equipment, docking, winterization, etc. These incidentals can amount to thousands per year.
  • Crunch the numbers carefully before committing to a boat purchase. Know your total monthly and yearly costs.
  • Boat financing means interest charges that increase the total paid over time. Save up to put down as much cash as possible.

How Much Does a Boat Cost?

The first and often largest cost associated with owning a boat is the purchase price. New boat costs can range from around $10,000 for a small aluminum fishing boat up to millions of dollars for a large yacht. But how much does an average, middle-of-the-road boat cost?

For a used boat that’s 10-20 years old, you can expect to pay $5,000 to $40,000 depending on the size, condition, and features. Pontoon boats in the 20-foot range typically cost $15,000 to $25,000 used. Fiberglass bowrider runabouts usually have an average cost that ranges from $5,000 to $15,000 for a 16 to 21-foot boat.

If you want to buy a new boat, prices are significantly higher. A new 20-foot pontoon boat will cost around $30,000. A 20-foot bay boat or center console fishing boat starts around $50,000 and goes up from there. Aluminum bass and fish & ski boats in the 18-22 foot range run $20,000 to $50,000.

The boat type, size, features, and options can quickly push the price into the six-figure territory for larger sport yachts and cruisers. When determining your budget, carefully consider the type of boat you want and be realistic about necessities versus luxuries.

Luxe Beat Magazine provides a list of average boat prices for various types of boats. Some examples include:

  • Jon boats: $500 to $3,000
  • Catamarans: starting at $10,000
  • Sailboats: starting at $12,000
  • Pontoon boats and Bow Rider boats: $15,000 to $50,000
  • Deck boats: $20,000 to $50,000
  • Fishing boats: $25,000 to $100,000
  • Airboats: $30,000 to $100,000
  • Cuddy Cabin boats: starting at $50,000
  • Speedboats: starting at $75,000
  • Trawlers: starting at $90,000
  • Canal Boats and House Boats: starting at $100,000
  • Cabin Cruisers: $100,000 to $500,000
  • Yachts: starting at $300,000

Boat Safe provides information on the cost of various types of boats, including:

  • Bay boats: around $20,000 to $100,000 or more
  • Speedboats: around $30,000 for smaller models, up to $75,000 for top-of-the-line models
  • Fishing boats: $25,000 to $100,000

NBOAT provides information on the cost of various types of boats, including:

  • Sailboats: $100,000 to $500,000 for new sailboats, $10,000 to $100,000 for used cruising sailboats
  • Large saltwater fishing boats: $30,000 to $300,000
    Smaller fishing boats (e.g., bass fishing boats): less than $25,000 to $75,000

Bankrate reports that the average new boat costs $15,000 to $75,000, while more luxurious models can cost upwards of $100,000.

Ongoing Boat Ownership Costs

The purchase price, while substantial, is only one piece of the total cost of owning a boat. You also need to account for repairs, boat maintenance, insurance, boat storage, transportation, and the many incidentals that come with boat ownership.

Maintenance and Repairs – Expect the Unexpected

Unlike a car, boats require a lot more regular maintenance and are prone to surprise repairs. On average, plan to budget $500 to $3,000 per year in routine boat maintenance costs like winterization, tune-ups, oil changes, and cleaning. Store-bought parts and mechanic labor can add up quickly.

Even with proper maintenance, boats tend to break down more frequently than cars. A repair bill for a blown engine can easily cost $5,000 to $10,000. Electronics, controls, trailer parts, and other components fail over time as well. To avoid being blindsided by surprise repairs, build an emergency fund covering potential issues.

Insurance – Protection From Accidents and Theft

Boat insurance is a must, both to protect your investment and guard against liability from accidents. Premiums vary widely based on factors like the boat type, size, location, and your boating history. Generally, expect to budget $300 to $1,500 per year for insurance.

Storage, Transportation, and Launching

Buying a New BoatWhen the boating season is over, you’ll need a place to store the boat. Marinas charge an average of $1,500 to $5,000 per year for covered or indoor storage. Outdoor storage is cheaper at around $500 to $1,500 but leaves the boat exposed to the elements.

You’ll also need to transport the boat to and from the water. Trailers range from $1,000 for a used one up to $7,000 or more for a heavy-duty tandem axle. Don’t forget the cost of towing – gas, insurance, maintenance, and any special fees for launching.

Equipment, Gear, and Extras

Owning a boat also means buying all the necessary gear: life jackets, ropes, anchors, fishing equipment, skis, wakeboards, tubes, and more. Plus there are the marina fees, fuel costs, docking and launching expenses, and incidentals like food and drinks. Another $2,000 to $5,000 per year should cover these variable costs.

Financing Costs – The Interest Piles On

Very few people can afford to buy a boat with cash, so financing charges add even more to the total cost. When you purchase a 10-year boat loan at 5% interest, you’ll pay about $1,500 annually in interest on a $30,000 loan. And as with cars, your loan amount may be higher than the purchase price once taxes and fees are added.

How Much Does Owning a Boat Cost in Total?

As you can see, the true cost of a boat goes far beyond just the initial purchase price. While exact costs vary widely based on the boat and how frequently you use it, here are some ballpark totals:

  • Small aluminum fishing boat – $5,000 to $10,000 annually
  • 20-foot pontoon boat – $10,000 to $15,000 annually
  • 30-foot cruiser – $15,000 to $30,000 annually

So while the boat itself may cost $20,000 to $50,000, a boat owner is looking at a total ongoing cost of $200,000 or more over a 10-year ownership period.

Do the math carefully when budgeting for a boat purchase. And be sure to pad your estimates, as boats always cost more than you expect!

Final Words

While boats require a considerable financial investment, the rewards of time spent on the water are priceless for many owners. With realistic expectations and thorough budgeting, you can make boat ownership a rewarding experience rather than a source of financial stress.

Alec Pow
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