Why a growing number of retirees are opting for life on a boat

Mark Martel
Mark Martel

Local residents Gary and Cindy Ladd reached retirement age with a lifelong dream to travel and experience life in a new way. So, they sold their home and moved onto a Lafitte 44 Cutter sailboat. This would be their new home. Living on a boat, they found a place away from the frenzied pace of life increasingly dominated by a 24-hour news cycle, endless emails and stress.

With an estimated 80 million baby boomers retiring in the coming years, many of these retirees are living seasonally or year-round on boats, attracted by the simplicity of life and lower cost of living. Living on a boat allows you to reconnect with yourself, your spouse and nature. When was the last time you saw both the sunrise and sunset on the same day?

A sailing life is easier and safer than ever before thanks to modern technology. With GPS for navigation, you always know exactly where you are, the safest route to get where you’re going and how long it will take to get there. Radar monitors the weather and other boat traffic, including large commercial ships. Modern communications have made staying connected to family and friends very easy as well. Whether you are living at the Tidewater Cove Marina in Vancouver or floating lazily in an anchorage off the coast of Belize, today’s “liveaboards” use technology to enhance their lives rather than be ruled by it.

Retirement on a boat is more affordable than you might think – often costing less than staying in a traditional home. For under $250,000, you can buy a well-equipped, used sail boat around 40 feet in length (plenty of room for two people) and you can live on it for as little as $1,000 to $1,500 a month, including marina fees. That fee usually gets you a full-service facility with water, power, Wi-Fi and other amenities.

The Ladd’s started by sailing down the Oregon Coast to Southern California. That went so well they ventured to places they could never have imagined while they were deep in the daily grind of their work-a-day lives. Now, after five years of living on a sailboat, Gary and Cindy have spent enjoyable time visiting friendly locals in Honiara, socializing with the tribes in Tavanipupu and sailing from Bikini Atoll to Ketchikan, AK. If it’s time to make a change, then consider moving to a boat. Retirement is a perfect time to transform your life and open yourself to a world of possibilities.

If this idea interests you, here are two great books to help you get started: “How to Retire on a Boat” by Jessica H Stone, Ph.D. and “The Essentials of Living Aboard a Boat” by Mark Nicholas. Also, visiting Tidewater Cove Marina on the Columbia River (www.tidewatercovemarina.com) might be a good place to dream. Like the Ladd’s, the Columbia River can connect you to an amazing world.

Mark S. Martel, CFP®, is a local independent investment advisor and principal with Martel Wealth Advisors, Inc. He can be reached at 360.694.9940. Securities and advisory services offered through KMS Financial Services, Inc.