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The Costs of Owning and Maintaining a Boat

The Costs of Owning and Maintaining a Boat
Jason Steele
Jason SteeleUpdated May 25, 2023
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Editor’s note: Lantern by SoFi seeks to provide content that is objective, independent and accurate. Writers are separate from our business operation and do not receive direct compensation from advertisers or partners. Read more about our Editorial Guidelines and How We Make Money.
If you love being out on the open water, you may dream of owning a boat. Boats can be expensive to buy and maintain, but they can provide hours of enjoyment. If you’re interested in buying a boat, here’s what you need to know about the costs involved.

General Costs to Know Before Purchasing a Boat

If you are thinking of buying a boat, you may be wondering how much does a boat cost on average? The price of a boat depends on the type of boat you’re interested in, as well as its size, brand, condition, and features. A new boat averages about $42,000. However, for a more luxurious model, you can pay well over $100,000.In addition to the cost of buying the boat, you should also factor in the boat maintenance cost and insurance, as well as yearly costs like taxes. How much does it cost to maintain a boat? In general, it’s a good idea to plan for a yearly maintenance cost that’s about 10 percent of the cost of the boat, depending on the type of boat and your maintenance practices.  Tax laws vary by state. In some states, you’ll pay a boat tax equal to a certain percentage of the boat’s assessed value. 

How Much of a Boat Can You Afford?

First, figure out your budget. Then determine how often you’ll use the boat and what you’ll use it for. Will you mostly use the boat for fishing? Or do you intend to use it to travel? If you plan to use the boat frequently and/or use it to cruise from place to place, it may be worth it to you to spend more on it. If you don’t have enough cash to cover the cost of buying the boat, you could finance the purchase. For instance, there are top personal loans available that you can use to help buy a boat. One of the benefits of personal loans is that they can be used for virtually any purpose. Personal loans can even be used for boat repair financing.

Boat Maintenance Costs

An ongoing and significant expense of boat ownership is the boat maintenance cost. Boat insurance, fuel, a trailer, storage, licenses, and repair costs are all things you should factor into your budget. Read on to learn the answer to the question, how much does it cost to maintain a boat?

Boat Insurance

Boat insurance is a requirement, and for smaller boats, it averages about $200 to $500 a year. If your boat is bigger, insurance will generally run 1 to 5 percent of the boat’s value. That means insurance for a $42,000 boat might range from $420 to $2,100. Boat insurance prices vary depending on the type of boat, how old it is, the condition of the motor, the boat’s intended purpose, where you live, and your driving record. 


Fuel costs depend on what type of fuel your boat uses. Regular or premium gasoline fuel may be fine for smaller boats, but larger boats may need diesel fuel, which is more expensive. Keep in mind that the faster you drive your boat, the more fuel it will use. Also, buying gas at certain marinas may cost more as well — 50% more, in some cases.


If you’re taking your boat out of water for storage or transport, you’ll need a trailer. A boat trailer can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000, depending on the size of your boat. In addition, you’ll need to add in the cost of upkeep for the trailer, including the tires, brake repair fees, and regular upkeep fees.


You’ll probably need to pay for storage of the boat during the winter. You have a few storage options, including your garage or driveway, an outdoor storage facility, or an indoor storage facility. Storing your boat in your garage or driveway is usually the cheapest option if you live in a single-family home. However, you’ll have to winterize the boat. You should also check to find out if there are any rules in your area about parking boats in driveways. Outdoor marina storage is more expensive, but it offers convenience and security. Outdoor marina storage costs between $20 and $50 per foot of boat. However, your boat is still exposed to the elements. Again, you’ll need to winterize it.Indoor storage is the most expensive option, and costs from $50 to $200 per foot. But you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing your boat is protected from the elements and secure.

Equipment, Accessories, and Toys

You’ll need boat equipment and accessories. This includes the necessary safety equipment like life jackets, a flotation device, horns, signal flares, and a medical kit. You’ll likely also want some fun toys and water sports equipment such as scuba equipment, snorkeling gear, or fishing equipment. Be sure to budget for these items.

Education and Licenses

The requirements to register your boat and become licensed to drive it vary by state. The cost involved usually depends on the type and size of your boat. You may need to pay for certification classes to operate the boat, a certification cost, and a yearly renewal cost.

On-Water Towing Fees and Emergency Fix Funds

If your boat breaks down while you’re out on the water, you could have to call for a towing company. Most water towing companies charge by the hour for travel to and from the port. It can be expensive. Your boat may occasionally need emergency repairs. The boat could become damaged, especially if you store it outside, and equipment or parts may break and need replacing. For example, boat engines last about 1,500 hours. The cost of replacing a boat engine can range well into the thousands of dollars.Recommended: How Much Can You Borrow With a Personal Loan?

Finding a Boat Loan

If you don’t have the cash upfront to purchase the boat, you can apply for a loan to cover the cost. You could look into getting a boat loan or a personal loan for this. A boat loan is actually a type of personal loan used to buy a boat. Many banks, credit unions and online lenders offer boat loans. With a boat loan or personal loan, you get a lump sum of money that you repay monthly over time with interest. Once you’re approved, you receive the money quickly, usually within several days.If you’re buying a less expensive boat, you could use small personal loans to purchase the boat. Small personal loans typically range from $1,000 to $5,000. These loans could also help you cover the boat maintenance cost and boat repair financing.With personal loans and boat loans, the interest rate, terms, and how long can you finance a boat depends on factors like your income, your credit score, and the size of the loan.

The Takeaway

Owning a boat can be rewarding, but it’s also expensive. In addition to the cost of buying the boat, you should budget for maintenance costs, fuel, and equipment. And don’t forget the water toys! After all, owning a boat should be fun. If you’re exploring personal loans to help finance a boat, Lantern can make the process easier. In our online marketplace, you can compare rates and terms from multiple lenders all at once to quickly and easily find the best option for your boating needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

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Is boat insurance monthly or yearly?
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Photo credit: iStock/Ivan Kocha

About the Author

Jason Steele

Jason Steele

Jason Steele has been writing about credit cards and award travel since 2008. One of the nation's leading experts in this field, he has contributed to dozens of personal finance and travel outlets and has been widely quoted in the mainstream media.
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