Best Live Aboard Yachts: Top 5 Yachts

live aboard yachts

Live aboard yachts are recreational sailboats that serve as both a mode of transportation and a primary living space. These may not be a target for a majority of individuals (see other great liveaboard boats), but for a select few, living aboard a live aboard yacht is a luxurious dream that may just be the ultimate life-long goal to strive for.

The concept of trading away solid ground for living quarters that can navigate the seas is just something that is so intriguing and can breathe life into people who find the daily grind so dull and tedious.

Whether or not you actually plan to invest in and move into a live aboard yacht, here are a few of the most interesting yachts that have been engineered and designed for permanent living situations, from smallest to largest.

1. Catalina 30

catalina 30

The Catalina 30 has its roots in America, designed by the likes of Frank Butler and Gerry Douglas.

Produced from 1972 to 2008 by Catalina Yachts, several iterations were offered to the public market and over 6,000 of these yachts were sold, making it one of the highest-selling boats in its category in history.

This 30-foot boat is a small recreational boat crafted mainly using fiberglass and wood trim.

It has an internally-mounted rudder (spade-type), a fixed fin keel, and a masthead sloop rig.

During the earlier years, the Catalina 30 was fitted with any of the three engines below:

  • Yanmar diesel engine
  • Universal 5411
  • Universal Atomic 4 gasoline engine

These three options were eventually replaced by the three-cylinder Universal M-25 diesel engine in the 1980s.

Why We Like the Catalina 30

We absolutely recommend the Catalina 30 simply because it is a tested and proven sailboat in the open seas. There are also several spare parts that are offered in the United States, and the price point is the most affordable among the yachts listed here.

If you are planning to live in a yacht by your lonesome, or with a loved one as a couple, then the Catalina 30 would be arguably the best option for your needs without seriously breaking the bank.

2. Catalina 38

catalina 38

The Catalina 38 is a bigger version of the previously discussed Catalina 30. Also American in origin, this 38-foot yacht was first produced in 1978 and remained in production until the tail-end of 1990.

This yacht is identified primarily as a recreational keelboat that also depends on materials such as fiberglass with wood trim.

It offers similar features, designs, and engineering as the Catalina 30, but utilizes a more powerful engine, the Universal Atomic 4 which offers 25 horsepower, suitable for small movements and adjustments when docking the boat and navigating the seas.

The Catalina 38 is great for small to medium-sized families and is affordable enough in terms of upkeep and maintenance.

Why We Like the Catalina 38

We love the Catalina 38 because of how deliberate the design was made to cater to individuals who would like to live aboard boats.

It is surprisingly spacious for its size, it can accommodate a family of four to five individuals, and the amenities and facilities are very practical and well-designed.

If you are looking for another sailboat that is relatively affordable and slightly larger than the first entry in this list, then the Catalina 38 is a good option to consider.

3. Nordic 40

nordic 40

The Nordic 40 is another American yacht that had its origins based as a racer-cruiser, designed by Robert Perry in the late 1970s.

The Nordic 40’s production period ran from 1978 to 1991 and was funded by Nordic Yachts in Washington.

Unfortunately, luxury tax regulations caused the cessation of production in 1991.

The 40-foot Nordic 40 is designed with single laminate fiberglass and is topped off with teak wood trim and a balsa-colored deck.

It features a raked stem, a reverse transom, a fixed fin keel, a skeg-mounted rudder (controlled by a wheel mechanism), and a masthead sloop rig with aluminum spars.

This yacht is fitted with a Universal 44 horsepower diesel engine and is one of the first boats to feature a fold-down transom (designed by Gary Nordvedt) which facilitates easier boarding for passengers.

Why We Like the Nordic 40

We love the Nordic 40 since it was originally designed as a racer-cruiser but can also double as a live aboard boat with a host of friendly and dynamic amenities and interesting features.

This yacht is also quite uncommon which may lead to a more challenging time to secure spare parts but what it lacks in parts availability, it can definitely make up for with a spacious interior, comfortable living environment, and standing headroom in areas that actually matter.

4. Nordhavn 76

nordhavn 76

If you are thinking about a massive yacht that boasts modern features and state-of-the-art technology, then the Nordhavn 76 is one yacht you should definitely consider.

The boat credits its design to the efforts of naval architect Jeff Leishman and a few Taiwanese builders. Needless to say, the end result far exceeded the expectations of the company that spearheaded this model series.

This 76-foot boat boasts advanced structure, machinery, plumbing, electrical, steering, and interior features. The specs can be found online but certain aspects of the boat may vary depending on the model year (the year a particular boat was manufactured or designed for).

Why We Like the Nordhavn 76

We cannot get enough of the Nordhavn 76 simply because of how advanced it is in all aspects.

This yacht is not just a large sailboat. It is as if you are living in a luxury hotel that offers all the latest features and technological amenities.

If you have the budget for a model such as this, then the Nordhavn 76 should be acquisition priority number 1.

5. Hatteras 90

hatteras 90

The Hatteras 90 is the largest sailboat on this list and generally the most expensive, largely due to its size and the facilities that it has within.

This modern-style yacht prides itself on simplicity or minimalism but does not fail to make sure that the quality in design, engineering, and craftsmanship is there.

It is actually a very technically sophisticated boat in terms of both the interior and exterior and is essentially a superstructure that allows for the most luxurious type of living for a family of five or more individuals.

The Hatteras 90 contains a total ship management system that helps with the control and diagnostics of every portion of the ship.

Why We Like the Hatteras 90

The greatest appeal of the Hatteras 90 lies in the country-style kitchen facility built within the sailboat. This theme utilizes a style and focuses on natural materials and artisan-like craftsmanship to bring about a vibe or ambiance of comfort, warmth, and familial bonds.

Having a country-style kitchen in a sailboat would definitely be an alluring aspect, especially if you have guests and friends coming over every now and then to dine with you.


Live aboard yachts may seem distant to you today, but you never know what the future has in store for you. If you are the type to dream about living on a boat for the rest of your life, then make sure to keep this guide handy for when the time comes to make a purchase.

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