How Much Does a Boat Cost?

How Much Does a Boat Cost? Good question. Boats are essential to our lifestyle, providing hours of fun and adventure on the water.

They offer a unique way to explore nature, spend time with friends and family, and participate in various water sports. Whether you are fishing, cruising, or water-skiing, there is nothing quite like being out on the open water.

With the increasing popularity of boating, it is essential to know the price options available, so you can make an informed decision when making a purchase.

The cost of a boat can vary significantly depending on the type of boat, its size, its brand, and the materials used to construct it. A small kayak or canoe can cost as little as a few hundred dollars, while a large yacht can cost millions.

In between, you’ll find a wide range of options, from motor boats and sailboats to pontoon boats and jet skis. Each of these boats has its unique features, and the price can vary greatly depending on the specific boat you’re interested in.

What Is The Cost Of A Boat?

What Is The Cost Of A Boat?

The cost of a boat will depend on your individual needs and budget. Whether you’re looking for a small, affordable boat to enjoy a day out on the water or a luxurious yacht to entertain guests, plenty of options are available. You can buy a new inflatable boat for $150, which can be used to row near the shore.

If you’re looking for a sailboat, the average price is $60,000-75,00. The price tag is in the millions if you’re looking for floating resorts.

A typical used 20’ boat will cost you $10,000-$20,000, while a brand new 20’ boat will cost $40,000-$60,000. The size and style of the boat will have a great impact on the price. Buying a used boat will save you money, but maintenance costs will be higher than new ones.

When buying a boat (both new and used), it is important to consider not only the initial purchase price but also the ongoing costs of owning and maintaining the boat.

These costs can include fuel, storage, and maintenance. Additionally, you will need to consider the costs associated with the watercraft itself, such as the cost of a trailer, a boat cover, and other accessories.

With that said, let’s go into more detail to explain the factors that determine the price of a boat and then list some popular options and their prices.

What Determines The Price Of A Boat?

One of the first things to consider is the type of boat you want to buy. There are many different types of boats available, each with its unique characteristics and uses. Some popular options include sailboats, powerboats, and pontoons.

Another important factor is whether you want to buy a new or used boat. Buying a new boat has the advantage of getting the latest technology and features, but it can also be much more expensive.

On the other hand, buying a used boat can be a great way to save money, but it also comes with the risk of buying a boat with hidden problems. You should expect higher maintenance costs if you buy a used boat.

The current season of the year you want to buy your boat can also impact the price. During the peak boating season, prices tend to be higher than they are during the off-season. This will make a difference of several thousand dollars, depending on the type of boat you are looking at.

Other factors include the features and condition, the age of the boat, and whether it is being purchased from a private party or a dealer. Generally, boats that are purchased from private parties tend to be cheaper than those bought from dealers or marinas.

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Used Vs New boats

Used Vs New boats

When it comes to buying a boat, you have the option of buying a used boat or a new boat. Each option has its own set of pros and cons, and depending on your resources and time, one may be a better choice for you than the other.

One of the biggest benefits of buying a used boat is that it will generally save you money at the start. However, used boats may require more maintenance and repairs than new boats. Also, how the previous owner maintained the boat would greatly impact the maintenance costs you’ll experience.

On the other hand, buying a new boat can be a more expensive option, but you’ll ultimately deal with fewer repairs. Whether you choose to buy a used or new boat will depend on your individual circumstances and priorities.

Size And Style

The boat size and style are important factors to consider; If you want to buy a fishing boat, you’ll be spending more than a canoe.

And if you prefer a 24′ model over a 22′ model, be aware that the price will be higher. Before making any final decisions, it’s crucial to think about how you plan to use the boat.

If you aim to carry guests or family members, you should have enough capacity to cater to them. On the other hand, there is no need to buy a boat with a capacity of 8 people while you only need to carry 3 or 4.

If you’re a new boat owner, it’s best to start with a boat that is 15′ to 18′ in length and has a modest engine. Bigger boats will lead to higher mooring costs and could put you in a dangerous situation if you’re not ready to operate them.

Feature You’re Looking For

Boats can have a wide range of features, tech gadgets, and upgrades that can add more costs significantly. The features that can affect the price include built-in media systems, LED lighting, chart plotters, battery chargers, swim platforms, autopilot functionality, GPS position holding, and hydraulic steering.

Higher-end boats may have luxury features such as joystick steering controls, satellite weather systems, vacuum head systems, countertops, custom flooring, and climate-controlled cockpits.

These additional features can greatly increase the cost of the boat, so it is important to consider which features are essential for your boating needs and budget accordingly.

Renting vs Buying a Boat

Renting vs Buying a Boat

Renting or buying a boat is a decision that many people face in areas that incorporate sport fishing or leisure watersports. Renting a boat can be a convenient option for anyone that doesn’t have a boat and want to explore the water with minimal investment.

The benefits of renting a boat include not worrying about ownership or maintenance costs. This is a great option for those who only explore the water a few times a year and have no storage burden.

However, there are downsides to renting a boat; There is no guarantee you will get the boat when you want it, even after making reservations.

Ultimately, the decision between renting and buying a boat depends on your personal preferences, needs, and how often you plan to use the boat.

Cost of Owning Your Boat

Owning a boat is a significant investment, both financially and in terms of time and energy. On average, boating costs $1,000-$6,000 in expenses per year. Understand that these costs go beyond the initial purchase price and the first tank of gas.

In addition to taxes and registration, there are other expenses such as boat fuel costs, marina fees, boat launch fees, boat repairs, seasonal maintenance, seasonal storage, and transportation for larger boats. Not planning for these costs can be a costly mistake in the long run.

You should factor in all of these costs before making the decision to purchase a boat to ensure that it’s the right investment for you.


Boat education will give you the foundational knowledge you need to operate your boat safely and effectively. It is important not only for your safety but for the safety of others on the water as well. Additionally, a boater education course can save you money on your boat insurance.

While many states do not need boater education, many still do. Even if it is not required in your state, taking a formal boater education course is still highly recommended. These courses typically cost between $100 and $500 and only need to be taken once.

Obtaining certification from a NASBLA (National Association of State Boating Law Administrators) recognized body can also be beneficial as it can be used across states.

This means that if you ever plan on boating in a different state, you will already have the necessary certification. Overall, investing in boater education is a small price to pay for a lifetime of safe and enjoyable boating experiences.


The taxes you’ll pay on your boat will vary depending on where you live. While the federal government does not take a cut, you have to pay state and local taxes.

The sales tax should be paid once at the sale location, but you may also be required to pay usage tax if you avoid paying sales tax.

You’ll also pay a personal property tax every year, similar to any other vehicle. This tax is mandatory for all boats, and the cost differs by location.


The fees for licensing a boat can vary greatly depending on the state, with costs ranging from around $20 to over $200.

Factors that influence the cost include the type of vessel, its length, and the length of time for which it is registered. To register a boat, you must provide proof of ownership and pay the appropriate fee.

Once registered, you will receive a registration certificate and be assigned a registration number, which must be displayed on the boat’s bow using reflective stickers. It is important to keep in mind that failure to register or license your boat properly can result in fines or penalties.

Maintenance Cost 

All boats require maintenance, regardless of size or type, and it’s an expense that should be factored into the overall cost of ownership.

While renting, a boat can avoid many of these costs, owning a boat comes with responsibilities such as planning regular maintenance items before and after each outing and seasonal maintenance.

This can include tasks like fresh water flushes, steering system inspections, oil changes, seat and deck cleaning, propeller replacement, hull inspections, and potential anchor replacement.

These costs can range from $1,000 to $6,000, and while good operation and preventive measures will help reduce maintenance costs, they are a requirement for all boats.

Equipment And Accessories

Paddles, life jackets, signal flares, and a horn are just a few items essential to have on board before you hit the water.

Additionally, some items are required by law to have at all times, such as fire extinguishers, life jackets and wearable personal floatation devices, throwable flotation devices, and visual and sound signaling devices.

While these safety items can add to the overall cost of purchasing a boat, it’s important to remember that they are necessary for the safety and well-being of everyone on board.

Additionally, other accessories like lighting, watersports equipment, and stereos can add to the boating experience, although they aren’t required.

If you’re on a tight budget, prioritize the necessary safety items and then gradually add in additional accessories as you are able.

Fuel Cost

Fuel is needed to operate your boat, and the cost can add up quickly. It’s important to estimate your fuel cost ahead of time by familiarizing yourself with the consumption rate of your boat.

Smaller, single-person boats can often run on just a few gallons of gas for an entire day, while larger boats meant for towing tubes or water skiers will consume fuel much faster.

To save on fuel costs, you can keep the revs lower and educate yourself on proper trim adjustment. Also, Fuel costs can be added to your monthly marina cost when you lease space.

It’s a requirement for all powered boats and should be considered as needed with respect to the current gasoline price and oil which depends on the engine type.

Boat Trailer and Tow Vehicle

A boat trailer is a must for all boat owners, as it is required for transporting a powered boat from one place to another.

The trailer must be durable enough to carry the overall weight of the boat and cargo. The cost of a boat trailer can vary, with some boats including one. Otherwise, the average cost is around $3,000.

On the other hand, the tow vehicle is also a requirement for boat owners. While the frequency of purchasing a new one may not be as often as a boat trailer, it is still an important factor to consider when buying a boat. The cost of the tow vehicle varies depending on the type and model of the vehicle.

Mooring And Marina Fees

Mooring and marina fees differ depending on the location of your marina, the size of your boat, and the amenities you require.

For example, if you live in an area where you boat often and you don’t want to trailer your boat to the launch each time, renting or leasing a boat slip at a marina may be a good option.

These fees can range from $50 to $1,000 per month and often include the cost of charging and freshwater supply. Marinas provide a convenient way to store your boat for an outing at a moment’s notice and offer secure and safe storage options.

Winter Storage

In many areas, you’ll realize that the boating season is limited, and as the weather gets cooler, it’s time to prepare the boat for storage. You can store smaller boats in a garage, but with proper care.

However, many boat owners choose to rent a storage space during the off-season at a facility that provides security and maintenance for their boats.

Maintaining the charging of the batteries on boats can be smart, as unattended boats can attract vermin and pests.

Indoor storage can cost upwards of $50-$200 per square foot, while outdoor storage is typically half that ($20-$50). Remember, this is a yearly requirement in all but equatorial regions.

Total Cost Of Owning A Boat

For a first-time boat buyer, purchasing a new boat that comes with a trailer for $15,000 and then towing it with their vehicle can still result in spending over $5,400 in the first year, with less maintenance on a new boat.

While purchasing a used boat will save more money than buying a new one, it is important to consider the condition and the potential for additional expenses due to how the previous owner treated it.

FAQs on How Much Does a Boat Cost?

Is A Boat Cheaper Than A Car?

It depends on the specific boat and car in question. But generally speaking, a boat is more expensive than most cars.

Is Buying A Boat Expensive?

It can be, but the cost of a boat can vary greatly depending on the type, size, and features of the boat.

How Much Is A 20-Foot Boat?

The cost of a 20-foot boat depends on the type and features of the boat, its location, and its brand. However, the average 20-foot boat will cost you $10,000-$20,000.

How Much Does The Cheapest Boat Cost?

Generally, a small inflatable raft can be purchased for $100-$150 or less, while a small used boat can be purchased for around $5,000.

See Also: How Much Is A Speed Boat?

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