A liveaboard has great flexibility in deciding where to live. If the water is deep enough for your boat, you can live there!
From a cost stand point, this makes choosing where to live more flexible. If you live in a house and your taxes increase, you need to sell the property to move away. Until your property sells, you are forced to continue to pay these fees or face the consequences. On a boat, if your slip fee goes up, you can very easily untie your yacht and sail to a new place with a more pleasing slip fee.
The best part is, the slip fee is optional! If you choose to live in a marina, you will need to pay a slip fee. If you choose to not live in a marina, you don't have to pay any slip fee! Living on the hook is by far the least expensive way to liveaboard, as there are no costs associated with mooring the yacht.
There are pros and cons associated with the price you pay! Most marinas will charge by the foot, so the larger your yacht, the higher your slip fee will be. In general a 40 foot yacht can expect to pay close to $10,000 a year to live tied up in a marina in the heart of a city. If you move to a much more rural area, the cost goes down significantly. That $10,000 buys you an electric hookup, water hookup, septic hookup, and the ease to get to and from your yacht for an entire year!
If you live on the hook, you need to produce your own electricity, either through solar, wind, or by running the engine. Water needs to be carried out in jugs to your yacht and poured into your water tanks. Lastly, getting to and from your yacht requires the use of a dinghy.
Every gallon of water you use is a gallon you need to bring out to your yacht. Every watt you consume is a watt that needs to be replenished by your own yachts systems. Every anything you use must make the journey from land to your yacht by dinghy.
The dinghy you use needs to be reliable and comfortable. It will be your only contact to the outside world, and it will be subjected to everything the outside world can throw at it. If you are trying to get to shore during rain and high winds, it will be a very wet and bumpy ride. If it is freezing out, you will get cold. If it is very hot, you will bake in the sun as you make your way to shore.
This can be viewed as part of the life, which is fine while cruising and exploring new waters, but when you need to commute to work everyday and have to get to your car to get to work, the joy of adventure can get lost in the mundane repetitive nature of the daily commute.
If it is raining really hard, you will get soaked before you reach your car. This means you need to carry dry clothes and change in your car. If it is very cold and windy, you will probably get splashed by the chilling waters and need to, once again, change into dry clothes in your car. If it is baking hot, you will get sweaty as you work your way to shore and will need to, once again, change into dry clothes in your car.
Lastly, moving your car around to different areas is not as easy as moving your yacht around. Finding a place that will let you park your car as you commute to and from by dinghy can be challenging. Worst yet is if you move your boat, now you need to orchestrate how to get your car close to your boat for the next days commute.
All of these factors make you wonder if living on the hook while working a daily land job is worth the $10,000 you are saving? The alternative is to pay $10,000 for a slip with a parking space and all the conveniences of being tied up in a marina.
An easy walk down the pier, a place to keep your car, and all the power and water you could need right at your slip. While it may be costly, it is awfully convenient!
While $10,000 a year for a slip and amenities may sound steep, it is worth looking at it from a different angle. Your yacht will be tied up in the water next to towering apartment buildings. The rent for a studio apartment in these high rises can easily be $2,000 per month, or $24,000 per year. The cost to purchase these condominium apartments can be upwards of $250,000, with Condo Association Fees and taxes which can also be obscenely high.
Where I live, the building that looks out over the marina has condominium apartments starting around $750,000. The building behind it has apartments starting around $250,000 with Condo Association Fees of $500 a month and taxes of $500 a month as well. This means that the cheap condo has $6,000 per year in taxes and fees after you fork over $250,000 to own the place. Mind you, all of these building look out at the water and are considered "Water front" or "Water view". Imagine paying that much money to live in the heart of the city and overlook someone who sits in their yacht and pays only $10,000 per year.
While living on the hook may be free, the cost to live in a city marina can be more than justified by the amenities and conveniences awarded by the slip fee.