Where to live aboard? That is the question.
It is one of the first concerns for anyone considering living on a boat. Making the correct choice can greatly enhance your enjoyment of living aboard.
Fortunately, there are some options. Here are some considerations.
Marinas can be found almost anywhere in the world, but not all of them allow liveaboards.
Sometimes government regulations do not allow liveaboards in certain marinas. Other times government will limit liveaboards in a marina to a certain percentage of slips.
A good marina is a fine place to live. The one pictured below is Grove Isle Marina in Coconut Grove, Florida. I lived aboard there for about one year.
You will enjoy not only most of the amenities you did ashore, but you will be part of a unique community.
I usually feel I have more in common with fellow boaters than any other group I identify with; where to live aboard is also a common concern for all of them.
The common joys and problems of boat ownership transcend almost any other aspect of your life.
The marinas I've enjoyed the most have clean restrooms, responsible liveaboards, good staffs who care about the marina and a great location that allows you to be a part of the community.
The marina pictured above is in Dania, Florida. It's on the Dania Cutoff Canal just south of Port Everglades and the inlet to the ocean.
Marinas sometimes provide a nice place to park your car and offer 24 hour security for your car and boat. These are super nice bonuses that some marinas offer and it's worth looking for.
We have developed a partial list of Florida liveaboard marinas.
These are areas with permanent moorings. You hook up to a buoy and usually pay the city, county or local marina for the privilege of staying there.
Many areas no longer allow boats to be liveaboards at anchor. They have passed laws that make you live in a mooring field.
Some of the best mooring fields will have water taxis that will take you back and forth to your floating home. They also will have a place ashore where you can store your dinghy, do your laundry, use your computer or just hang out.
The photo above is from the website of the Coconut Grove Sailing Club in Miami, Florida.
The mooring fields have some of the same disadvantages you will read about below if you are a liveaboard swinging on a hook. But they are quite often less than half as expensive as marinas in the same area.
We have developed a partial list of Florida liveaboard mooring fields.
Some people feel that living on the hook is the ultimate freedom. It's certainly cheaper than a mooring field or marina, but there are some disadvantages too. You get what you pay for. And finding a location where to live aboard is not easy.
There is the problem of where to land and store your dinghy when you are ashore. You will be making a lot of trips to your boat to haul groceries and water. You will be making a lot of trips to the shore to get rid of garbage and walk your dog. You have to find a place that will take your garbage. And you have to routinely empty your holding tanks and not in the water where you are anchored.
Energy is a problem. You will have to run your engine every day to keep your frig and freezer cold and to charge your batteries. You may need to add solar panels and wind charges to supplement your onboard energy.
And just finding a spot to live on the anchor is becoming a problem just about anywhere in North America. People who live ashore on the waterfront seem to have a natural antipathy for carefree liveaboards enjoying the same view for a fraction of the cost.
People who live ashore vote, and politicans know it. Liveaboards are usually too disorganized to form a voting bloc, so you see more and more laws against living aboard.
There are many neighborhoods on the water that have homes or condominiums with private docks.
The problem is that liveaboards are usually prohibited by local laws and/or neighborhood regulations.
There are some exceptions, like the "Isles" area of Fort Lauderdale along Las Olas Boulevard. A couple of neighborhoods are permitted to have liveaboards on the docks behind small condos or houses. But there are not many places like this and you will have a hard time finding anything in most of the areas you are interested in living.