How Much Does A Boat Cost?

Sea Ray Sundeck 220Memorial Day is almost here, your friends are all getting their boats out of storage and getting them ready for the season – now you’re realizing what fun they are all having and you’re wondering “how much does a boat cost?”  If you haven’t shopped in a while, you may be in for quite a shock.  The average price of new boats is growing rapidly every single year.

Average MSRPs Since The Year 2000

For the sake of this article, we used the NADA guide to track average MSRP (manufacturer suggested retail price) of some common boat types over the last 12 years. For this particular research, we tracked the MSRP of three specific types of boats.  Here are the specs:

  • 21′ to 24′ in length
  • Standard runabout type.
  • 230-260 hp

We tracked 3 different brands and models: Chaparral 226si (or similar), Sea Ray 220 Sundeck (or similar), and a Cobalt 220 (or similar).  These boats all shared similar qualities in power, length and appointments.

The Hard Data

First, you’ll notice, in the graph below, we started the research for boats manufactured in the year 2000, and tracked through 2012.  The average in 2000 was just below $35,000 while the average in 2012 is just over $65,000.  This represents a 80% increase in average MSRP over the last 12 years.  With this trend, the average MSRP of a new boat in this category is steadily increasing at around 10% every two years.

How Much Does A Boat Cost?

For would-be boat owners, this is an alarming trend.  Many started thinking about buying a boat years ago, and the longer one waits, the more expensive they get!

The Boat is Just the Beginning

The other consideration when pricing a new boat, is that the cost of the boat is just the beginning.  Once you purchase a boat, you have to decide if you are going to keep the boat in a marina or store and tow the boat yourself.  There are cost and time pros & cons to both scenarios.  We have an article specifically about trailering vs storing your boat at a marina that you should check out.  We will assume you are going to use a marina so that you and your family can get the most out of your brand new purchase.  If you are using a marina, you can also count on the following fees:

Startup Costs

  • Startup Accessories:  Anchor, lines, life jackets, toys, ropes, etc.  $1,000 – $1,500
  • Training:  Safety first! – expect to spend $250 – $300 for on-the-water training.
  • Boat Lift:  If you buy a new fiberglass boat, you don’t want to skimp on the boat lift.  Expect to pay $6,000 to $10,000 for the lift from your marina, installed.  (Boat lifts dramatically prolong the life of your fiberglass-hulled boat. They are key in protecting your investment

Recurring Costs

  • Slip Rental:  $1500 – $2500 per year, or more, depending on location and marina.
  • Insurance:  $600 per year.
  • Maintenance:  $1000 per year.
  • Cleaning:  $400 – $500 per year
  • State Boating License:  $50 – $75 per year, depending on state.

It All Adds up!

If you are keeping up with the math, a new boat with plus startup costs can easily run upwards of $75,000 up front.  The annual recurring costs can run you an additional $4,000 – $6,000 per year depending on your location, and which services you use.

There’s no doubt about it, buying a new boat is an expensive proposition and is not suited for everyone.  We said we would mention alternatives, and for those who are shopping for a new boat, here is a fantastic alternative:

Should I Buy A Boat?

Introducing the Carefree Boat Club!

free-tour-verticalIf you were to finance a brand new boat, as well as the lift and other startup costs – and then factored in recurring costs as a monthly expense, owning a new boat will easily set you back $800 – $1,000 per month.  If that amount per month doesn’t cause you any heartburn, then what are you waiting for!  Give your local marina or boat dealer a call and get the ball rolling.  However, what if there was a way to enjoy that brand new boat, and in fact, many different kinds of boats, for a fraction of that monthly cost?  Here is where the Carefree Boat Club shines.

With the rising costs of boats, more and more boating enthusiasts are discovering the tremendous value of Carefree Boat Club.  For a fraction of the cost of owning a boat, you can enjoy unlimited usage of any number of boats from your local fleet!  The best part of all is, all you have to do is make a reservation, show up and USE the boat.  When you are done, you turn it back in.  The boat club takes care of preparation, maintenance, storage, cleaning and refueling of each boat.  The only variable costs the club members have to pay is the price of the fuel they use during each outing.

Why not check Carefree Boat Club out for yourself.  If you are here in the Tri-Cities region, East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia or western North Carolina, there are Carefree Boat Club locations at Boone Lake, South Holston Lake and Watauga Lake.  As a member, you can reserve a boat at any of these locations, or at any of the 26 locations in the US.  Schedule a free tour at a local marina and see for yourself, why Carefree boating is the best kind of boating!

Carefree Boat Club Pricing & Information Guide

But What About Renting?

Renting is a common alternative to owning a boat – especially if you are the type of boater that doesn’t plan on using the boat very often.  For some this is perfectly fine.  However, you need to realize a couple of things.  1) the cost of only a day of boat rental, is pretty close to what an entire month of Carefree Boat Club membership costs.  If you think you would use a boat more than once a month – then that is pretty silly.  2) a very serious aspect of rental that is often overlooked – the liability of any damage to the boat, or to other people or property FROM the boat, falls squarely on the renter.  You are 100% at risk for any liability in the event of an accident.  With Carefree Boat Club, all members are covered under the membership insurance policy.

Find What’s Right For You

We hope this information has given you greater insight into the various costs and considerations of buying a boat.  Check it all out thoroughly and make a wise and informed decision.  We hope to see you on the water soon!