07 August 2015

Cost Of Living Aboard Our Boat | June & July 2015

We've been tracking how much it is costing us to live aboard our boat, S/V Tickety Boo, at Indiantown Marina in southern Florida while we wait out hurricane season.

I've always been interested in how much other people spend on living their dreams traveling the world, whether by boat, RV or other modes of transportation. Sure, a large part of my interest is down to sheer nosiness - "Wow, I can't believe they spent that much on new cushions!" "Look at how little they spend on groceries - they must be eating instant noodles." "It costs how much to get a composting toilet?" But it's more than just snooping, I also get some great tips about where we can cut our spending and get a feel for how much it might cost to travel to certain areas.

In the interest of fairness, we've been sharing our costs as well. Hopefully, it will be useful to others who are thinking about escaping the rat race and embracing their dreams of a different kind of lifestyle. We also benefit too - publishing our costs keeps us accountable to ourselves and makes us think twice about what we spend and don't spend our money on. And the more money we can save means we can keep traveling longer before we have to worry about topping up the kitty.

If you want to see our other cost updates, as well as links to other folks who share their costs, then check out this page. If you want to see how much we spent during June and July, have a look below. Keep in mind that you might spend a lot more or a lot less. There aren't any right or wrong answers - we all make different choices, have different budgets and prioritize different things.

Cost of Living Aboard | June & July 2015

Overall, we spent $4,484 during June and July. I'm sure this won't come as any big surprise to many of you, but boats are expensive and they seem to constantly want you to buy new stuff for them. A very small fraction of that $4,484 was spent on us and a large part was spent on keeping Tickety Boo happy. She's a very demanding creature.

Before we get into the nitty-gritty details of what we spent, here are a few things to note:
  • All costs are in US dollars. 
  • June is a partial month. We arrived back at Indiantown Marina from our shakedown cruise to the Bahamas on June 9th.
  • Not all expenses are included. We don't report how much we spend on alcohol and chocolate cake and we haven't included costs related to storing our Scamp travel trailer ($21 a month). We've also left out our costs for medical insurance. We didn't think it made sense to include insurance costs as they can vary so widely depending upon your nationality, where you cruise, what level of cover you want and can afford etc. In case you are curious, while we're back in the States, we do have insurance through the health insurance marketplace (aka Obamacare), primarily to protect our assets and cover us in case of a catastrophic medical condition.
  • Scott headed back to Scotland at the end of June for some work and other stuff, so costs for things like groceries went down in July as it was just me living on the boat. 
  • I've included any shipping and taxes we've paid in what we report. Florida has a 6% sales tax. Boo.

GROCERIES | Total = $528.90

This category includes everything we put in our bodies in terms of food and drink (excluding booze) that we prepare ourselves. It doesn't include things like paper towels and ziploc bags, which I know some people would classify as groceries. Sure, you could probably eat them, but they wouldn't taste very good.

You can see the effect of Scott being away during July on our grocery bill - $355 during June vs. $173 during July. If I did better meal planning and made more stuff from scratch, I'm sure I could bring our spending on groceries down further. It's one of those areas that I just never seem to put too much effort into these days. However, we have a lot of expensive kit to buy for our boat, so I may need to concentrate on getting a bit more frugal in this department in the future.

PERSONAL & HOUSEHOLD | Total = $113.92

This is the category where we include household things (like paper towels and ziploc bags) and personal hygiene items (like soap and shampoo). We also capture items for the "home" here - like a flame diffuser ($7) for our gas stove which should keep things from burning on the bottom and a mattress pad cover ($23).

ENTERTAINMENT | Total = $111.84

One of the great things about spending hurricane season in Indiantown is that there really isn't all that much to spend your entertainment dollars on. It's a pretty small town and things are really quiet at the marina during the summer, so there's not a lot of temptation.

In terms of drinks and eating out, this includes everything we don't prepare ourselves, even if we get something to go and eat it back on the boat. While Scott was here during June, we spent $77 which included lunch out with some friends at the Seminole Inn, a few trips to Burger King (chocolate fudge sundaes - yum!) and pizzas to go when we were feeling too lazy to cook. With Scott gone during July, I brought this spending down to only $26! Dinner with a pal in Okeechobee and a bloggy meet-up at a local pub in Indiantown.

We also track how much we spend on books, magazines, movies etc. in this category. My big splurge was $4 on a crossword puzzle book, which I do while watching Downton Abbey as part of my free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime (I'll be canceling when the trial period is up).

COMMUNICATIONS | Total = $180.00

Our cell phone is actually one of our biggest non-boat related expenses. I have a $60 monthly GoPhone plan with AT&T which includes 4GB of data and unlimited calls and texts. 4GB of data isn't enough for us, so we've been buying additional data which adds up. However, we now have a WiFi adapter/antenna gizmo which helps us get the marina Wi-Fi in at our boat and minimize the use of our cellular data. While Scott is away, I've also added on a $10 monthly international call plan so that we can check in.

BOAT FUEL | Total = $47.85

We spent $47 on diesel for our boat during June to top up the tank. This will be one area we won't be spending any money on during the rest of hurricane season.

LPG | Total = $4.50

We use LPG for cooking. We had to refill one of our tanks during June.

MARINA COSTS | Total = $1,008.06

Keeping Tickety Boo in a slip is one of our biggest expenses. The monthly cost of a slip with electricity at Indiantown Marnia for a 34.5' boat is $572. Because June was a partial month, you'll note that the costs were prorated in the table below. They guys at the marina will also come pump out our holding tank on demand - $5.30 for each visit.

BOAT STUFF | Total = $1,416.89

Yep, this is where the big numbers come in - all the stuff we've been buying for the boat. We've got a long list of stuff we need to get for Tickety Boo - some upgrades, some maintenance related items, equipment etc. I'm trying to spread the costs out over the next few months because I simply find it too painful to spend so much money.

In June, we spent $27 on boat maintenance/repair related items - like stuff to remove the gooey adhesive from the cockpit. We also spent $314 on boat equipment/gizmos/gadgets. The big ticket item was an air conditioning unit ($179). Possibly the best financial investment we've ever made. If you've ever spent the summer in southern Florida, you'll probably agree with me. We also bought a mini shop-vac ($20) and scored a deal on two Go Anywhere seats from West Marine which we can use in our cockpit (regular retail price $200, our price $46 using vouchers and getting them on sale).

In July, we upped our spending considerably and shelled out $1,074. Yikes. $850 of this was on boat equipment/gizmos/gadgets of which $730 was on a Sailrite industrial sewing machine. Yikes again. The other $224 was spent on "miscellaneous" stuff for the boat - mostly stuff for my sewing projects, a new propane regulator, a dry bag and other bits and bobs. I guess spending this much money in one month on the boat is good practice for when we buy a watermaker. Now, that will be pricey.

In case you're wondering why there aren't any charges for boat insurance, we paid these up front for the year in April (you can see the details here).

TRANSPORT | Total = $110.06

This category is for costs related to our vehicle, mostly for gas to keep it going and drive into the nearby "big city" of Stuart for errands.

MEDICAL EXPENSES | Total = $66.98

This category includes medical expenses outside of our monthly insurance premium (which we don't track here) like over the counter medications, prescriptions and things for our medical kit. I got a blood pressure monitor during July. This is something we've needed for our medical kit and it was on sale so I snapped it up. Plus, if my sister comes to visit, we can have blood pressure competitions and see whose is lower. It's a little game we like to play. Sibling rivalry comes in many shapes and forms.

OTHER | Total = $895.54

In this category, we break out how much we spend on clothes and travel expenses, as well as have a catch-all miscellaneous group for stuff that doesn't fit neatly anywhere else. The minute Scott left town, I went clothes shopping and spent $30. It wasn't actually all that exciting. I just got some tank tops for when I have to venture outside of my air conditioned boat. It's even too hot for t-shirts here. While I was at it, I also picked up another pair of shorts and some of Walmart's famous $1 flip-flops.

The big spending was related to Scott's ticket back to Glasgow ($502), an external hard drive ($100) and I splurged on a Kindle Paperwhite ($117). The other expenses were for things like laundry, postage and other odds and ends.

So there you go - $4,484 will buy you two months in Indiantown Marina and a lot of bright, shiny new things for your boat! Did we spend more or less than you would have expected?

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  1. Hopefully once you have gotten all the things done on the boat that need to be done your costs will go down a bit. That same thing happened to us back in January when we need to do/buy things for Sherman. I think your grocery bill is pretty good all things considered. I agree it is nice to see how much others spend and then you can gauge how much you would spend depending on if you do more or less than that fellow traveler. I think it is helpful, thanks for posting it.


    1. We definitely knew that we would be spending quite a bit up front to get Tickety Boo outfitted etc. Once we get back out on the water in November/December, we should be able to bring costs down. At least, that's the theory :-)

  2. Thank you for posting this. It's always super useful to see how much people are spending and then try to match up their financial philosophy with our own.

    1. Happy to share - I know how much we benefit from getting a view on what others spend. I like how you put the idea of matching up your financial philosophy against other folks. Everyone does take a different approach which is really important to keep in mind when you're looking at other people's numbers.

  3. Yikes! I am so thankful we went small.....and we are self-reliant type people. $500.00 a month average over a year...

    1. Wow - only $500 a month - that's fantastic! How do you do it?

  4. How exciting to be able to go off on a sailing adventure on a whim! Living on a boat doesn't seem as expensive as I thought it would be. I'll be watching to see where your future travels take you!

    1. I think the cost really depends what kind of boat you have and what needs to be done to it in terms of fixing it up, equipment etc. Also, if you want to stay in a marina the costs will vary depending up location and amenities. But if you head off in your boat and anchor out a lot, you can keep your costs down quite a bit.

      In terms of future travels, we'll be heading down to the Caribbean next season, likely heading to Cuba first off.

  5. Thanks for including the breakdown! My husband and I want to live on a boat and it's helpful to see what the costs can be. Are you going to sew projects for other people, or do you plan to focus on your own? It would be interesting to see how it works to do this while living on a boat. I'm currently learning upholstery.

    1. I'm a long way off from sewing for other people. I probably need to know how to sew in a straight line first :-) There are definitely folks who do sew for others, so that could be something to seriously look into.

  6. You are living out my fantasy mate. This is definitely on my bucket list. Thank you for sharing this story with readers. The fact is that living on-board or on land is getting too expensive. The best thing about living on a boat is that you always have your home with you. Still, the expenses drive you up the wall.

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