The Cost of Buying a Boat

28 August 2019

Is a humble wallet reason enough not to pursue your dream of buying a boat? Do the words affordable and boat belong in the same sentence together?

Paper Boat In Water

You’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about buying a boat. Ultimately, you’ve committed to embarking on an aquatic journey. Maybe you hope to sail the seven seas and explore this luscious planet. Or maybe you just want to day sail around the Balearic Islands, either way, you’re going blue. What’s more, you’ve decided you’re going to do so, affordably!

Naturally, the next question after, “Should I buy a boat . See more>> is “What is it going to cost me?”

Captains, sailors and mermaids, the truth is - there is no blanket answer to this question. Whether it be a house, car, new business venture, or higher education, underneath a tangible lifestyle change is usually a chunk of money. To make this an organised process it’s important to have a clear budget and functional and realistic expense sheet like you see below.

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Let’s assume you’ve found the boat of your dreams… a beautiful, second hand, 35-foot sail yacht which you’ve decided to make your full time, Mallorca-based accommodation.

Boat ownership has a range of obvious and unavoidable costs which you should be aware of. Of course, there are the sneaky, cheeky hidden costs that should also be duly noted.


Here are the expected costs: #

Initial cost

Depending on how much of a fixer-upper the boat is, the initial cost is typically the largest chunk of money spent. Be sure to do your research. Know the market and all that you can about the boat and the build before negotiating, that way you’ll get the best deal possible.


This includes tax, registration, licensing, and of course, good insurance. Remember this is your home now so it isn’t unreasonable to hire some assistance to make this process a simple one.

AM TIP: Do you have any sailing certificates? For your safety (and the other seafarers' sharing the waters with you) it’s a good idea to get some qualifications before you buy!

AM TOP TIP: Don’t forget to ask whether or not the VAT has been paid before buying, otherwise, this will cost you a large stack of cash later. According to Nautalegal, a Barcelona based, boutique law firm specialising in Nautical and Maritime Law, unpaid VAT is 18% of the boats value, however, even in case the boat’s VAT has been paid, if you wish to remain registered in Spain, you will still have to pay what is called ‘Transfer Tax’, or ITP, which is 4% of the boats value.

Boat Maintenance Yard

Maintenance #

This includes everything from urgent repairs to preventative maintenance. Yachtworld suggests that you should budget 10% of the boat's value for annual maintenance. Of course, there will always be things you cannot prepare for, just like the boiler going in your house, or the fuel injector failing in your car.

Logistics #

Do you need to get the boat from point A to point B? Will you need a trailer? A place to store it in order to do repairs and make modifications?

‘Consider This’: Every ‘cost’ inevitably comes with a side effect ‘cost’. For example: Antifouling needs to be done about once every two years. This will require hauling the boat out and back into the water. Additionally, you will need to either hire someone to do the antifouling, or be prepared to do the job yourself. Although antifouling can be done on your own, it means working with dangerous chemicals. As with relaying floors in a house, you will need supplies. To name a few, you’re going to need the hazardous paint, a roller brush, tape, sandpaper, access to a power-washer, a full body suit to protect your skin completely as well as a quality respiratory mask.

Fuel #

You may have sleek new sails but there is no way around this one. Fuel is essential and can be costly.

Moorings and dockage #

Anchoring is free, but mooring and marinas in Mallorca are not! Location plays a huge factor, so do your homework. It’s also great to know that Port Andratx, for example, offers discounts to Spanish residents!

“The best way to not go broke is to keep an organised maintenance log and service schedule. In the long run, this will save you a fortune.”

Paul Jones, boat owner based in Mallorca for the last 25 years

Obviously buying and owning a boat costs money, but knowledge is power. If you’re prepared to put in the labour and love needed, if you’re happy to live onboard and know a thing or twelve about boats, you’re in a great position to transition into an aquatic lifestyle.

So, keep a piggy bank floating around for emergencies. Make yourself aware of the costs, obvious and hidden. It’s the only defence against the shock of money going out. Like the varnish on the cap rails, preparation is everything.

Food for Thought: Part of being welcomed and accepted into a country as an expat is by abiding by their laws. If you spend more than 165 days in Spain, you’re considered a fiscal resident, therefore, you should get the proper paperwork such as your NIE and residency. This will also mean you’ll pay tax in Spain.

Photo source: Shutterstock

28 August, 2019


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