Many people dream of moving onto a boat. After all, it's a great lifestyle- who wouldn't want to live on a boat? You're surrounded by nature. The laid back attitudes of fellow boaters is fun and friendly. The freedom to come and go as you please. And best of all, if you don't like your neighbor, you just move! But how do you make the transition from a house or apartment on land to a boat?
Here's three important tips that can get you started towards living on a boat and enjoying beautiful sunsets and margarita's from your own floating home.
1. Lose the Stuff
2. Lose the Overhead
3. Lose the Attitude
Step one seems pretty straightforward but you would be amazed how hard it is to downsize from the average 1500 square foot home of jammed closets, overstuffed attics, and cramped garages into a 3-500 square foot boat. Don't start hyperventilating just thinking about it. Don't worry, the hardest part is just to start!
Getting rid of all your 'prized' possessions that you haven't look at in years is painful. Both for the memory your stuff brings back, but also for how money you might have spent on the stuff for it to end up in a closet. Plan on a yard sale to benefit 'the cruising kitty' and clear out as much as possible in one fell swoop.
After you've divulged yourself of your excess possessions through a yard sale, consignment shop, charity organizations, and finally the dumpster behind the grocery, plan on storing the remainder of your possessions in a family members garage, or a paid storage unit for six months to a year after your start living on a boat. After six months on the boat, review your remaining possessions and you'll be amazed how unimportant many of these previously priceless heirlooms have become in your new life.
Repeat this step a few times and you'll be down to the few items that are truly important possessions worth keeping.
Step two is important for practical as well as philosophical reasons. In the normal day to day grind of the rat race it's easy to subconsciously accumulate gadgets, recurring subscriptions, and miscellaneous expenses that you may not notice on a monthly basis but definitely impact your bottom line. By cutting your overhead and simplifying your expenses you are buying yourself freedom. It's hard to sail away into the sunset and still collect the 49 magazine subscriptions, enjoy the gym membership, blockbuster movie membership, or even collect your bills every month.
Every dollar you save is a dollar you don't have to earn.
You can prepare for your new life on a boat by systematically cutting your overhead by reviewing monthly bank and credit card statements looking for big and small expenses that can be cut. You'll be surprised at how quickly a surplus of cash can add up from these 'lost' dollars.
From a more philosophical standpoint, excess overhead is like a massive anchor to your freedom. Ultimately you have to decide if you're 'working to live' or 'living to work' because the more you spend the more time you have to work to cover those costs.
The last and probably the most difficult tip for moving onto a boat involves changing your attitude towards work and time. When you live on a boat things slow down dramatically. In many ways moving on a boat is like stepping back to a simpler era when technology wasn't making our lives easier and we weren't faced with dealing with a thousand tasks per day. Living on a boat is not only a lifestyle it's a life. To get the most out of living on a boat you just can't operate the same way you would living in home or apartment on land. From the outside, it appears a lot of your time is spent doing nothing on a boat. But in reality this is time well spent.
Taking a chill pill and re-prioritizing your goals can help you take advantage of this wonderful lifestyle and explore some of the dreams and desires you might have forgotten in the rush of the rat race. The average male lives 77 years and if you're lucky you can have at least 65 years of health and vitality without any significant medical issues. Are you going to have the strength and energy if you wait until the magical "one day, someday" when all the stars align for you to start living a fulfilling life?
If living on a boat is a dream, make "you" a priority and don't wait for "someday" to come. By changing your attitude about time and being mindful that we can never get it back you'll be well prepared to maximize your new life on a boat.
From a practical standpoint it's pretty obvious that you'll need to scale down your stuff to move on a boat. It's a cathartic process that can free you emotionally and physically from your past and prepare you for a new future. By reducing your overhead, you're not only helping the bottom line but you are cutting the ties that bind you to land. We all have bills to pay, by slashing these expenses to the bare minimum we create an opportunity to work less and live more. Changing our attitude about what society expects of us and our attitudes towards work is tough. We're ingrained with a subconscious social guilt that casts the shadow of doubt in taking time for ourselves and stepping outside of the rat race to find a life of freedom and personal satisfaction that may be lacking in your life on land.
By slowly and diligently practicing these three steps you can pave the way to a smooth transition in your new life on a boat. Take your time. Wether it be 10 days or 10 years, keep working towards your goals and you'll be rewarded by a new life filled with beautiful sunsets, ocean breezes, and new exciting experiences.
JC McDowell lives aboard a sailboat with his pregnant wife and two year old daughter in Mexico half the year and works in the US the other half of the year. Read more articles about making the transition from land to boat on his website.
You can read a more detailed explanation on how to move onto a boat at his
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