10 Best Places to Live Aboard a Boat in the United States

best places to live aboard a boat

Living on a boat on a permanent or semi-permanent basis is a huge commitment. It should take you quite a few hours of research and deliberation before finally arriving at a decision to be one with the sea, much less determining the best places to live aboard a boat.

Fortunately, we have just the guide for you to understand why living aboard a boat is an enjoyable and practical option.

To ensure that you make the right life choice, continue reading to learn more!

Top 10 Destinations That are Best for Living Aboard a Boat

1. Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri

Lake of the Ozarks Missouri

With over a thousand miles of coastline and approximately 60 thousand square acres of surface area, Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri is an astonishingly gorgeous place to live your life in. The community in and around the area is known to be a happy bunch, and the weather is notably agreeable (in most situations).

Along with multiple public-access ramps, Lake of the Ozarks plays host to several private marinas and lodging centers. There are also several state parks and vacation homes in the area, so you are assured a great time. Pick your treat!

2. Atlantic Ocean, Long Island, New York

atlantic ocean long island new york

New York may be perceived as a busy and bustling city, but do not let that fool you. Living on a boat in Atlantic Ocean, Long Island, New York is an experience like nothing you have ever felt before.

With several public and private marinas populating the location, you are guaranteed a safe and comfy spot in and about the waters in Long Island. Another fascinating feature of living here is accessibility to even more interesting locations such as New England, Connecticut, and Rhode Island.

Whether you prefer taking life at a slower pace or plan to engage in all the fast-paced fun and joy that comes about, Atlantic Ocean is a great choice for many.

3. Tampa Bay, Florida

tampa bay florida

Despite the relatively high fees and insurance costs that come with the life of living a board a boat, we are still greatly inclined to include Tampa Bay, Florida in our list of preferred destinations.

Sprinkled with many marinas, great people, and fantastic shopping and recreational centers, you will never run out of things to do or new experiences to have in this area.

4. San Diego, California

san diego california

West coast people and California natives, we hope you are reading this! If you plan to live aboard a boat but would like to stay within the west coast of the United States, then consider San Diego, California as a great destination candidate.

Known for having the friendliest and most sincere people in town, this location is great if you want to take a step away from the stress of life and would like to enjoy what the city has to offer. In fact, the geographical position of San Diego makes it convenient to access other areas in the west coast, too.

5. Corpus Christi, Texas

corpus christi texas

Corpus Christi, Texas is not necessarily a top-of-mind option to many experienced boaters in the United States, but believe us when we tell you that what this coastal city has to offer in terms of places to live is rare and astounding.

If you are looking for affordable options and, arguably more importantly, great food, then this is the place to live in, boats or otherwise.

If you would like to lay back with the rest of the city and enjoy the aquatic flora and fauna at a relatively affordable cost, then keep Corpus Christi, Texas in your shortlist.

6. Gulf of Mexico, Destin, Florida

gulf of mexico destin florida

Florida makes another entry in our list of best places to live once again. Other than Tampa Bay, another great choice in the area is the Gulf of Mexico, which is considered to be the more action-packed body of water between the two.

Surging in popularity real estate demand, the Gulf Coast of Mexico can be seen as a melting pot, where people of different cultures and traditions come together to enjoy the fun that natures and boats have to offer.

The bad news is that it may take a while for you to be granted approval to engage in sailing and boating, much less a liveaboard in the area. The queue is long, so you may want to consider other options in the interim.

7. Green Bay, Lake Michigan, Wisconsin

green bay lake michigan wisconsin

Speaking of popular attractions in town, Green Bay of Lake Michigan, Wisconsin is another worthy candidate that we would absolutely have to include in our list of best places to live.

Separated from the rest of the lake by a handful of land masses or islands and the Door Peninsula, the waters of Green Bay, Lake Michigan have both historical significance and present-day utility.

Based on what we have found concerning the Green Bay live aboard boat experience and sailing, the rates are pretty good for liveaboard purposes. Definitely keep Green Bay once you have decided to commit to the liveaboard life.

8. Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

chesapeake bay

The United States will never run out of world-class bays. Other nations could try to match the quantity and quality, but we definitely have a soft spot for the likes of Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

Considered to be one of the leading destinations for liveaboard living, you can definitely settle and live in Chesapeake Bay waters year-round (assuming you land the necessary permits and pay the relevant fees).

9. Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Seattle, Washington

puget sound lake washington seattle

If you are looking for a dynamic lifestyle, one with a highly urbanized metropolis and another with an unbeatable natural attractiveness, then Puget Sound, Lake Washington, Seattle is right up your alley.

Beyond the greener than green forests and other land-based attractions, this area contains the best fishing spots and cruising weather. Considering a liveaboard life in this area is definitely an acceptable view and brings you so much closer to visiting the likes of San Juan Islands and Wild Alaska.

Consider the Emerald City if you are looking for a mix of modern living and nature.

10. Lake Murray, Columbia, South Carolina

lake murray columbia south carolina

Sure, some people argue between North and South Carolina, but when it comes to capping off our list of best places to live in for that liveaboard lifestyle, South Carolina's Lake Murray, Columbia takes the win.

Found within the east coast of the United States, Lake Murray has plenty of marinas to choose from, with a wide range of prices and rates on a monthly or annual basis.

Although not as gigantic as the big city counterparts found in this list, this specific lake has great value as a power-producing reservoir for the town (but there is no need to worry about drastic water elevation changes).

How to Choose the Best Place to Live Aboard a Boat

There are hundreds of decent places to live aboard a boat, but we are here to help you identify the absolute best places to live aboard a boat for your needs and/or preferences.

In this section, we walk you through the most important factors that should help you narrow down the list of where you want to live.

Slip Cost

Slip rental or slip leasing is a price you have to pay for living aboard a boat and there is no escaping this fact. In choosing an area or marina to dock your boat in, make sure that the costs associated with slips are well within your budget.

We say "well within your budget" because aside from slips, there are other expenses associated with the bay life and utilizing the features and amenities of marinas.

Fishing Opportunities

The typical demographic of people who want that boat lifestyle can be described as people who want to live within access of water-based activities, most especially fishing.

In choosing a bay, marina, or particular area, do some research on what the fishing practices are in order to get an understanding of whether or not that bay or marina can accommodate your fishing preferences while on liveaboards.


How many miles long is the coastline?

How many miles does the actual body of water span?

And how many miles from this area to other bays or interesting destinations?

All this talk about miles should clue you in on the importance of distance and area. Determine the relevant miles in order to know if the things that matter to you are nearby or could be visited (within reason).

Smaller Bodies of Water (River, Lake, etc.)

Some people could do away with this but for most liveaboards, having access to smaller bodies of water such as a river or a lake may be a boon. Check out inlets, water systems, and other paths that may be helpful to you in terms of navigation.


It would not be a pleasant liveaboard experience if you were constantly sailing or boating in obnoxiously bad weather conditions. Always consider the history of a place or destination to see if the weather plays a major (negative) factor in liveaboards.

Retirement aboard a boat does not sound good if you constantly have to battle harsh rains and heavy winds.


Some people prefer the sailing and boating lifestyle as it distances them from other people, but as the saying goes, no man is an island.

Take a few research sessions to investigate the community and traditions in the area to make sure that you are in the right boating place or marina. Fellow boaters should not be scary. Boaters should be friendly and always open to extend a helping hand in times of need.

Number of Marinas

The most popular destinations in our list above are not wanting for marinas, that's for sure.

However, if you are considering other locations that are lesser-known, then it is necessary to ascertain the availability of the marinas to ensure that you actually have a space for docking your boat and not just boating all the time.

Cost of Marinas

In addition to the quantity of marinas, it is worth looking at the respective costs associated with the marinas in the area you choose.

Boating is an expensive endeavor, we have to admit. This is why it is important to properly account for all actual and potential expenses, especially when it comes to a liveaboard boat. Your retirement money will not last you forever, so it is best to make prudent decisions.

Way of Life (City vs Laidback)

Some liveaboard lifestyles are less hectic and laid back. However, there are other areas that are akin to living in cities where your lifestyle should revolve around work and stress.

In considering your area to live in, always identify the culture, both formal and informal, to properly assess the viability of the area in terms of your desires and expectations.

Sailing and Boating Opportunities

Whether it be a massive ocean or a small river, it is important to identify the sailing and boating opportunities to know where and when you can take your boat out for a spin.

The benefit of liveaboards is the option to be mobile, so do not let the opportunities go to waste.

Overall Cost of Living

Aside from the other fees mentioned, we have to end this section by talking about the overall expenses associated with liveaboards.

Repairs, maintenance, food, supplies, and so many more items should be identified in order to determine the needed overall budget.

Types of Live Aboard Boats

There are several different liveaboard boats available for a variety of boats and budgets. Take a look at the list of liveaboard boats you could avail today and also read our guide on the best liveaboard boats:

  • Multi-hull Boats
  • Sailboats
  • Sport Fishing Boats
  • Yachts
  • Houseboats

Why Do People Choose to Live Aboard a Boat?

There are several reasons why people choose to live aboard a boat. It varies from person to person, of course, but there are a few themes or recurring explanations as to why people do so. Take a look at a few of our findings below:


Unlike houses or condominium units that are stationary or fixed, living aboard a boat allows you a certain freedom of mobility to visit different parts of the world.


Modern times have turned us into people that are highly dependent on technology and the internet to thrive and succeed. Living on a liveaboard negates that norm and deviates in a way that embraces the past.

Interestingly, this approach also reduces carbon footprint as it reduces opportunities to utilize a lot of carbon-emitting products and services.

Fun and Exploration

Nothing beats the thrill and excitement of trying out new things. Living on a liveaboard is definitely one of those bucket-list-worthy items that you should cross off your list.

Here are a few more reasons to take note of:

  • Retirement
  • Living Abroad (while Living Aboard)
  • The Bay Life
  • Sailing and Fishing
  • Alternative Way of Living

Frequently Asked Questions

Is living on a boat cheaper?

Yes, if you are aware of all your expenses. Despite the legal concerns, permits, and associated fees, if you are prudent with how you manage your financial resources and diligent with accounting, you will end up saving a lot more living on a boat than living on land in a house or condominium.

Where in the US can I live on a boat?

You can live in a lot of places in the US on a boat. There are several bays and marinas that are available to this type of lifestyle. Refer to our list above to know more about the destinations or locations that would be great for liveaboards.

How much money do you need to live on a boat?

On average, living on a liveaboard boat practically would require around $2,500 per month. However, this figure can vary significantly depending on where you live and the type of boat you have.

Where can you live on a houseboat year-round?

There are several places in the US where you could live aboard on a houseboat year-round. Check our list above to know potential areas or confirm with the cities or states to identify potential areas.

Can you live on a boat in a marina?

Yes, you can live on a boat in a marina as long as you have accomplished the necessary documentation and paperwork.

Can you live on a boat in the ocean?

Yes, and this is practiced by highly experienced boaters and fishermen. It is a possibility to permanently live in the ocean, but we recommend doing some research and adding some experience under your belt before trying this out on your own.

Is it legal to live on a boat?

Yes, it is legal and requires a lot of documentation and paperwork, so be prepared.


The best places to live aboard a boat may seem to be a dime a dozen but do not let that take away from the fact that this alternative way of living is an alluring concept. If you have done your research, prepared a budget, and are fully capable of committing, then by all means, go live aboard a boat!

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