I’ve actually tried about five different versions of this post. It’s about money. One of the more common questions I get is, “How can you afford to live like that?” I understand at the heart of the question is, how can you afford not to work. As I’ve written the previous versions of this, I done the research on what other cruisers spend on all of the costs. I’ve done breakdowns on what I think it will cost us based on this research. We will have an income stream, it won’t be a lot, but we will have one. At the end of the day, Matt and Amy of Sailing Yacht Florence (here’s the blog link to Sailing Yacht Florence) caused me to realize, you can cruise the world on as much or as little as you want.
So let’s lay out a couple of differences here. Nick and Megan O’Kelly recently did a video where they highlighted their costs, they are on a 41 foot catamaran, it’s just the two of the them. They spend about $67,000 a year. That includes boat insurance, health insurance, maintenance, food, mooring/marina fees, etc. They also have been spending most of their time in the Bahamas and the East Coast of the US. In their video, they also highlighted that they know of people who spend over $200,000 a year. That’s quite the range. But, jumping back to Matt and Amy, they spend $17,000 a year on average for the same basic expenses, except they are on a 37’ monohull.
So, when I am asked, how do I think we can afford this on the small income stream I know we will have, we can. It’s going to mean that I’m going to have to go up the mast and check out the rigging myself. It’s going to mean that as much as I hate plumbing, Sandy and I will be fixing the toilets ourselves. Next fall we will be taking a diesel engine maintenance course for marine diesel engines. Are there times when we will have to call in the experts and shell out some money for expert help repairing something, yeah without a doubt, but the reality is, if the watermaker breaks in the middle of the Pacific, there’s only going to be the three of us anyway.
We also aren’t doing this so we can live in marinas. Without a doubt, we will need to be in marinas from time to time, but our goal is to find a nice quiet anchorage, and drop anchor. As we have looked at boats, we are targeting a price range that will enable us to avoid a boat mortgage. When you ditch the house, and know that you are going to be ‘camping’ in a sense, think about the expenses that go away. Drop the car payment, car insurance, water bill, utilities, mortgage. Yes, some of that is going to be replaced with different internet bill, still going to have a phone bill, going to have to have boat insurance and boat maintenance costs (generally average about 10% of the value of your boat per year). But the reality is, expenses can drop quite a bit.
When we first came up with this dream, we were watching a documentary on Amazon about a woman who married a man, had several kids, etc. And they had circumnavigated the world three times before settling down in Hawaii for a bit. At one point, before they settled down, she was filling out a US Census survey form (this was back in the 60s), and the form asked, does your house have electricity, No. Does your house have running water, No. How many bedrooms does your house have, 2. She commented that when she filled out the form, it made her look like one of the poorest people on the planet, but yet, they were the happiest they’d ever been. They’d shared vodka with Russian scientists in Antarctica, hunted wild goats on uninhabited islands in the South Pacific, swam with dolphins and whales. They felt like the richest people on the planet, yet all they had was a boat.
Matt and Amy in their video about costs basically said the same thing. They don’t have much, they don’t even have an outboard motor for their dinghy, but yet, they have had fresh Mahi Mahi from the Indian Ocean. Currently are exploring South Africa and got their with minimal cost. So, how do I think we can afford to do this? When you change your life like this, you start to figure out what the essentials are and that’s what you spend your money on. You can spend what you have, but keeping up with the Jones’ is not really a thing on a month long crossing of the Pacific. I think doing that, you’ve probably surpassed the Jones’ anyway.