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How Much Does a Boat Cost? What You Need to Consider

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The average cost of a new boat is $60,000 to $75,000, but you could pay far less — or far more — depending on what you have in mind.

But if you’re asking “How much does a boat cost?” you’ll factor in mooring fees and storage, fuel, insurance, licensing fees, maintenance and much more. You may also need a trailer to move your boat — and possibly a truck or another type of vehicle to pull the trailer.

According to LendingTree data, boat demand doubled between 2019 and 2020, so it is a question more people are asking. In fact, boating interest doubled in nearly 80% of U.S. states in this period. Here’s what you need to consider when buying a boat.

How much does a boat cost?

If you want to row near the shore, a $150 inflatable boat could work just fine. If you want a floating resort that turns heads, you could be looking at a price tag in the millions.

Whatever type of boat you have in mind, the purchase price will depend on:

  • Brand
  • Size and style
  • Location
  • Features and extras

Meanwhile, the cost of a used boat may be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars less. Used sailboats, for example, cost about $20,000 on average — perhaps far less if you buy from a private party. Still, the purchase price of a boat is just the beginning.

Example prices

As noted, boat costs can vary. For example, count on spending around $80,000 on a new 26-foot sailboat.

Here are suggested list price examples — trailers not included — on various new boat models via NADAguides. Note that prices may vary based on the area and availability.

Personal watercraft

Personal watercraft, also called water scooters, are designed for one to a few people. Riders can sit or stand on them.

Year/make/model Suggested list price
2021 Yamaha SuperJet $9,499
2021 Kawasaki Ultra LX $11,799
2021 Yamaha 212XD Wake Series $68,999
Powerboats

Powerboats, also known as motorboats, are powered by an engine. A powerboat may have an inboard engine or an outboard motor installed on the rear. As shown by the suggested list prices below, these boats are available in a wide range of sizes and styles.

Year/make/model Suggested list price
2021 Bass Tracker Classic $11,390
2020 Godfrey AquaPatio 195 C $38,370
2021 Hurricane Center Console Series CC 19 $42,129
2021 Malibu Wakesetter 21 VLX $105,897
2021 Cobalt R6 $120,640
2021 Cobalt R8 Surf $199,407
Sailboats

Sails propel sailboats, but they may also have an engine.

Year/make/model Suggested list price
2020 Beneteau First 14 $10,800
2021 Beneteau Oceanis 46.1 $329,800
2021 Beneteau First Yacht 53 $677,000

While personal watercraft, powerboats and sailboats were included, the list of options is extensive with some of these boat types. Here are some options within these categories:

  • Bowrider (powerboat)
  • Catamaran (sailboat)
  • Cuddy cabin (powerboat)
  • Daysailer (sailboat)
  • Deck boat (powerboat)
  • Jet Ski (personal watercraft)

Boat-buying interest doubled during coronavirus pandemic

With COVID-19 restrictions severely limiting vacation choices for Americans in 2020, suddenly, going out on the water became more attractive. LendingTree researchers compared demand for boats in 2019 and 2020, based on the number of people completing query forms for boat loans on LendingTree. Here’s what researchers discovered.

Key findings

  • Interest in boat loans doubled between 2019 and 2020. LendingTree data shows that the number of consumers completing boat purchase query forms rose 104% year over year.
  • Three Northeast states saw the biggest spike. Rhode Island, New Hampshire and New Jersey all had at least 166% more boat loan inquiries in 2020 than in 2019.
  • All states showed an increase in 2020. Nearly 80% of states saw boat loan interest at least double year over year. Wyoming, New Mexico and Maine — the states with the smallest increases in interest — still showed an uptick of at least 41% in boat loan interest from the year prior.
  • Boat interest from Gen Xers grew the most year over year. In 2020, the number of boat loan inquiry forms from the 41-to-56 age group rose 137%. Meanwhile, interest by Gen Zers (age 18 to 24) rose the least — but still an impressive 91%.
  • May, June and July were the busiest months for boat loan inquiries. In May 2020, interest in boats was up 229% compared to the average month in 2020. In June and July 2020, interest was up 209% and 182%, respectively, from the average month in 2020.

“The data shows that U.S. consumers saw boating as a safe way to re-create during the worst of the pandemic,” says Jenn Jones, LendingTree autos writer. “There happens to be a new boat in my family, too.”

Jones also notes that this recent upward trend still follows a common pattern: “Increased interest was nationwide but still followed seasonality, with the summer months seeing the spike.”

As interest in boat loans rose, so did the average offered loan amount on the LendingTree platform — $61,513 in 2020, compared with $46,787 in 2019. The average offered APR on boat loans dropped, too, to 5.91% in 2020, down from 7.46% in 2019.

Methodology

To compare demand for boats between 2019 and 2020, LendingTree analysts examined the number of people completing query forms for boat loans on the LendingTree site.

We compared the number of people completing query forms in 2019 and 2020 by state, by generation and by month to find the changes in each of those areas. We ranked the states by percentage change between 2019 and 2020.

We defined generations as the following ages:

  • Generation Z: 18 to 24
  • Millennial: 25 to 40
  • Generation X: 41 to 56
  • Baby boomer: 57 to 75

The data included consumers from the silent generation (age 76 and older), but the sample size was too small to include findings related to that group.

Cost of boat ownership: 10 expenses to know about

Before you even take your boat home or to moorage, the costs to buy a boat and own it start to add up. Be sure to plan for the following expenses:

  • Purchase price: The purchase price is the most obvious cost of buying a boat. Don’t forget sales tax, document fees and delivery charges, when applicable.
  • Loan interest: Unless you can afford to buy a boat with cash, you’ll generally owe loan interest. Boat loan interest rates could range from 3.99% APR to 20.50% APR depending on various factors, including the value of the boat and the down payment, the length of the loan and your credit score and history. Lenders generally offer lower interest rates with shorter-term loans.
  • Insurance: Most states don’t require you to purchase insurance for your boat, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it. Separately, your lender could require it if you’ve taken out a loan. According to Progressive, boat insurance costs anywhere from $250 to $471, on average, annually.
  • License and registration fees: Licensing and registration fees for boats vary by state. For example, it costs $70 in North Carolina to register a boat between 14 feet and 26 feet for a year. To register a boat between 16 and 26 feet in New York, it costs $57.50 if you include the $12.50 surcharge. A simple search online should point you in the right direction for the fee structure in your state.
  • Mooring fees: If you need to anchor your boat, you could owe a monthly fee ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars a month. For example, Elliott Bay Marina in Seattle charges nearly $540 a month for a 32-foot boat, but that monthly fee jumps to nearly $1,340 for a 63-foot boat.
  • Winter boat storage: If you have to pay to keep your boat on dry land during the winter, expect to spend between $20 to $50 per foot — per season — to store it outside. Indoor storage can be even more expensive, at a range of $50 to $200 per foot.
  • Boat trailer and tow vehicle: If you’re taking the boat to the lake, you may need a trailer — and possibly a new tow vehicle, too. Make sure you know the right size tow vehicle to pull your load safely.
  • Gas: Gas prices have been on the rise, primarily due to crude oil prices. If you’re looking for specifics on pricing, the Waterway Guide collects fuel price reports. Knowing the cost in advance will help, as boats can burn an estimated two to 35 gallons an hour.
  • Maintenance: Boats require regular maintenance, even when not being used. According to the website Born Again Boating, you can expect to spend $200 to $500 per engine in parts for an inboard motor. With a four-stroke outboard motor, that figure jumps to about $300 (and as high as $1,000) per engine in parts.
  • Equipment and accessories: Once you have a boat, you’ll need additional equipment and accessories for usability, safety and fun. The stereos and sports equipment can wait — you’ll need life jackets and other equipment before you launch.

Boat cost FAQs

What is the cost of owning a boat per year?

By the time you pay for storage, gas, insurance, maintenance and so on, your total cost of owning a boat could be about twice the amount you pay to buy the boat. For example, you might spend $15,000 on a boat. But by the time you pay all the necessary and fun expenses associated with having a boat, it could cost you around $30,000 for the first year. Your actual expenses will vary, depending on where you live and other factors.

Can a boat be considered a second home for tax purposes?

A boat qualifies as a second home if it contains sleeping, cooking and toilet facilities. You may be able to deduct home mortgage interest and mortgage insurance premiums for a second home with your itemized deductions. The debt will need to be secured by the boat you consider to be your second home.

How much boat can I afford?

Before you decide to buy a boat, create a budget to determine how much you can afford in total boat ownership expenses every month. Then subtract your expenses such as moorage, gas, insurance and so on. The amount you have left is the most you can spend on monthly payments for your boat. You can try different loan amounts in the LendingTree boat loan calculator.

What are my options for boat financing?

About 80% of boat financing for new boats is arranged through dealerships. Most of the remaining boat financing is applied for directly through banks or other lenders, either in person or online. If you’re buying a used boat, you may want to work with a marine broker to help you find a used boat loan.

 

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