So now you've made the decision to live aboard.
You've had time to examine the rational part of your decision and balance it with the feeling part.
You are either ready to live aboard or scrap the whole idea. Let's assume you will decide to buy your dream boat and give living aboard a try.
Here are the steps I would follow after making the decision to live aboard:
1. Make a checklist of the things you want to have on your boat. Research boating websites, brokerage services, go to boat shows, etc., and narrow down your choices.
Be honest with yourself. If you are not going to sail around the world or across the Atlantic or Pacific, do you really need a heavy displacement blue water boat? Are you real tall? Do you want standing headroom? Will you be living on a freshwater river somewhere? Will you have a spouse or significant other aboard? Does a sailboat make sense?
If you are not a millionaire, it's wise to remember that the smallest boat you can live on will save you a bundle of money. You will have to decide how small you can go.
Once you've made the decision to live aboard, wise people will tell you to buy the smallest boat you think you can comfortably live in.
If you are like me, you will want a boat seaworthy enough to take on a cruise now and then. If you want one that is designed to cross an ocean, however, you will pay for the extra rugged construction and equipment.
Contact a lender if you will need financing to get their requirements. Some lenders will not make loans on boats older than 20 years.
Contact an insurance company also. Some insurance companies won't insure boats that old either.
You should also be aware that some lenders do not like to make loans on liveaboard boats, and some insurers don't like to write policies on them. You will have to check and line up these people before you buy.
2. Find a liveaboard marina or mooring before you buy a boat. Many people have made the mistake of buying the boat first, then discovering they can't find a place to put it. You may have to get on a waiting list at the liveaboard location of your choice.
Find out what the marina insurance requirements are, because that could drive the kind of boat you buy and its age.
3. Find a good marine surveyor. If you know a good yacht broker, he can recommend one for you.
You need to remember, however, that some surveyors are tougher and more thorough than others. More than one yacht broker's deal has been killed and commission lost because the marine surveyor discovered all kinds of nasty things about the boat.
That's the surveyor you want when you've made the decision to live aboard.
That may not be the surveyor the yacht broker wants. Don't hire a friend who says he knows a lot about boats. You may end up with a crappy boat and lose a friend.
Hire a surveyor that lenders and insurance companies like. Hire one who's thorough and tells the truth.
4. Start visiting and looking at your narrowed down list of boats.
Make sure you try the bunk that you will be sleeping in, especially if you are tall.
Also make sure you can sit on the toilet and not have to put your knees up against your chest.
Spend a long time just sitting in the boat and getting a feel for her. Some boats just feel better than others, and it's hard to explain.