The Amazing Good Deal Of Living Aboard In Baltimore

Each day after waking up, having some coffee, and checking the internets for the newest developments in the world, I open the hatch and leap effortlessly onto our finger pier. I walk down the dock towards the key card gate and push it open, to the right I see the racks where both my and Rachel’s bikes sit locked and ready to go. As I enter the large parking lot in front of the marina, I pass my car on the way to the bathrooms and laundry. Past this is a large security gate the opens into downtown Fells Point, everything I need at my fingertips. 

I find it quite amazing that all this is available for $515.00  a month. Comparable rents just a few feet away in the snazzy new condos that went up a few years ago fetch $1700 plus utilities (1 bedroom studio, the 2 bedroom options fetch about $3500!). Did I mention $515 a month includes electricity, water, and parking? We don’t even have a big boat, some of these houseboats around us are even more like an apartment and they’re paying the same as us! 

I guess the obvious downside is you have to live on a boat. Perhaps that carries a stigma. After all, most of these Baltimore downtown marinas are not chock full of shiny well-maintained boats. It’s mostly run down, old fiberglass relics of the 70s and 80s or some unmaintained pipe dream from 10 years ago. Ultimately, it’s an individual decision about what your priorities are. We like living on our boat. It’s a space we’ve lived in for almost two years and feels more like home than some of the houses I’ve built and lived in for just as long!

There are also a few annoying things about living aboard. (I’d also like to say that I just wrote that sentence and must be getting soft – living at a dock is SO much easier than living on the hook). Unlike in the $1700 apartment, I have to fill the water tanks and replace the propane every few weeks. When it’s windy, the boat tugs at its lines and is much more annoying to be aboard. Finally, there is the reality of dealing with the shitty marina wifi. As regular readers know, one underlying theme of this blog is complaining about the lack of fast internet – I won’t disappoint you. This marinas wifi is absolutely terrible. Even worse is I can’t even buy good internet if I wanted to. The only option is to use cell service which is just not practical for two people who make their living from the internet. We continue to deal with this and count it as the only major drawback to our current situation. 

But all the things listed above are actually extremely small inconveniences when saving so much on housing. In this day and age when even the smallest inconveniences are magnified into life-shattering emergencies. It’s nice to remember for about 30 minutes of additional work per month you save $1200. You’re basically getting paid $2400 an hour to get a little exercise and vitamin D! 

The top question we get asked is “is it cold?!”. No, it’s not cold. We’ve got heaters! In addition, its a very tiny volume you need to heat in the first place. Another factor is that 50% of the cabin sits under the water. The water acts as a great insulator and stays consistently around 45 degrees. We haven’t had any sub zero days yet and these Chesapeake winters are pretty mild compared to say living aboard in Boston.

The living on the boat idea gets even better when you equate in the fact that we would still have to store the boat somewhere even if we weren’t living on it. That’s between $150 – 250 a month depending on where you keep it. (I’m planning on putting down a mooring in the near future, more on that soon.)

Have I convinced you to sell your house and come join us? Good! Come be our neighbor!

Also – the episodes of the new podcast I host, “Sailing Stories” are rolling out every Thursday! Check them out here!






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