The Best Liveaboard Marinas In Florida (2023)

If you are lucky enough to be able to live aboard your boat, the world is your oyster. Yes, truly. The world. You have a luxury that very few people do. You can pick pretty much any marina in the world and live there. So long as you can afford the Marina fees, you should have no trouble at all.

Once you are sure that living full time on your boat is for you, there comes the big question. Where do you want to live? The answer to that varies from person to person. Maybe you want to be close to a big city? Maybe you want to be near family? Maybe you want great access to the rest of the world? Maybe you want to live where the weather is good, the people are friendly, and the food is great? Maybe you want to liveaboard in Florida.

If that is the case, you are in luck, this article will act as your guide. This article not only explains why you might want to live in Florida but where exactly would be best for you. Here are some of the best liveaboard marinas in Florida.

Why might someone want to live aboard their boat in Florida?

Florida is a fantastic place to live. There is so much to do, so much to see, and the work opportunities are abundant. Florida may have a reputation for being a weird state, but that’s all talk.

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Florida is very safe, it has strict laws with impressive transparency. Florida is an open book, if that’s something that appeals to you, maybe that alone is a good reason to move there.

If you are looking for a financial incentive, consider this. Florida has zero income tax. That’s right – 0% income tax. If you are someone making $50k a year, you may lose anywhere from $5k-$15k from that in taxes every year.

In Florida, you would keep all of that. Moving there is like getting an immediate raise. It is also important to consider this when you are factoring in your budget for a marina slip.

You will have far more disposable income, so you may be surprised how much more you have to spend on a high-quality marina slip in a prime location.

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What are some things to consider when living aboard your boat in Florida?

Not everything in Florida is sunshine and rainbows. A lot of it is, but not everything. Florida is very hot, which is great. Florida is also very humid, which you might not enjoy as much. A lot of Florida is swampland, which when combined with the humid air, offers the perfect climate for mosquitos and other insects. If this is something that will bother you, maybe Florida isn’t for you. On the other hand, if you are living along the coast very close to the city there are going to be far fewer insects. Not none, but less.

Additionally, depending on where you live in Florida you may find the party culture uncomfortable. Miami can be crazy. It is a playground for the young, drunk, and wealthy. If this isn’t a problem for you, great! Maybe you are young, drunk, and wealthy yourself. If, on the other hand, you have left your partying and binge drinking behind you this may become rather grating over time. If you are trying to avoid this kind of nightlife, its a good idea to stick to Tampa Bay rather than Miami Beach. Despite what you might think, Tampa is far more relaxed.

The weather has been touched on briefly, day to day you have nothing to worry about. Bugs are annoying but not necessarily a big problem. What can be a big problem is the storms. Florida bears the brunt of a lot of tropical storms, tornados, hurricanes, twisters, cyclones, whatever you want to call them. A lot of them hit Florida. It isn’t uncommon for people to evacuate yearly for safer waters. This is typically a metaphor for ordinary folk. For people who live aboard their boat, this is literal. You may genuinely need to weigh anchor and sail for safer waters. Heading up the coast to New York in a hurry is a pain. It can also be very expensive.

If everything mentioned above has left you still wanting to live in Florida, perhaps it even made you more excited, then its time to pick where you might like to live. Choosing a Marina is not as much of a commitment as renting an apartment, leases can be far shorter and much more flexible. But, this normally comes at a price. You will be able to get a much better deal by committing to a longer lease. So, doing your best to make sure you pick the best marina for you the first time around is very important. It could end up saving you a small fortune in the long run. This next section is here to help you do just that.

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What should I be looking for in my marina?

Your marina needs to work for you. How much your money will get you varies from place to place. Do you want to live as close to Miami as possible? Great. But you may only be able to afford the most basic marina. This is a marina with little to no added amenities, electricity and water may not even be included. Here are some things you might not have considered that you need, but that you might miss once you are without them.

Washing and drying facilities

If you are living on your boat, unless its a mega-yacht, chances are you don’t have a washer or dryer. This means having to rely on a laundromat. Which is fine, of course. But, when you consider you likely don’t have a car can become a real pain. You will need to do laundry at a minimum once or twice a week. Having to take a bus across town with all your dirty clothes is going to be tedious at best. That’s why choosing a marina with good washing and drying facilities is so important. It can save you a lot of headaches. And a lot of money, as the machines are typically free. They won’t be free in a laundromat, that’s for sure.

A Gym

Being stuck on a boat is some people’s idea of heaven. But, it isn’t heaven for your body. People need to move around as much as possible. This is good for both mental and physical wellbeing. Having to go across town to find a decent gym is inconvenient, some marinas will have a gym and swimming pool included on the premises. This isn’t a necessity, just something that you might want to consider when choosing between two otherwise equal marinas.

Power and water hookups

Not all marinas come with power and water hookups. You will not only want but need access to both of these things if you plan to be there long term. If power and water are not included in your lease, you will need to discuss how much extra these will be. The cost of power especially can start to add up over the year. It is just something to consider when comparing multiple locations.

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Wifi

Not all marinas will come with wifi, those that do may not have particularly good wifi. But, bad wifi is better than no wifi. Of course, you can set up a connection yourself with a satellite router. But this isn’t always ideal. If you do manage to find a marina to provides wifi, even if it isn’t free, this should put it at the front of the running. If you are planning on working from your boat, doing so without wifi might not be ideal or even possible.

Security

Having good security is important. If you are living aboard your boat that is likely where everything you own is. Boats are not the hardest to break in to. Someone who is determined could be in and out of your boat in 5 minutes with everything of value. That’s why choosing a marina that’s gated, has CCTV, and even has 24/7 security is not only ideal but advised.

The Best Liveaboard Marinas in Florida

Finding the best Marina for you will depend on a lot of things, many of them were touched on above. But for the most part, it is two things. Location and price. Just like when buying a house, location is everything. Here are some of the best liveaboard marinas in Florida sorted by location. Hopefully, at least one or more of them will be what you are looking for.

The marinas are listed first by location and then by the quality. The higher up the list the marina is the better it is, not the more expensive it is. Of course, it is up for you to decide which of the marinas is best for you. If you are looking for the most job prospects, the closer to Miami the better. Finding something in South Florida is far easier than finding something in the north. You will quickly notice that when it comes to the north, your options are very limited. North Central Florida for example only has the Sea Hag Marina, in Steinhatchee, in its entire segment. Whereas there are about 20 choices for the south. There is nothing wrong with choosing to live in the north, it just doesn’t afford as many opportunities as the south does.

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North West Florida

  • Bay Point Marina in Panama City Beach
  • Panama City Marina in Panama City

North Central Florida

  • Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee

North East Florida

  • Fernandina Harbor Marina in Fernandina Beach
  • Mandarin Holiday Marina in Jacksonville
  • Ortega Villa Yacht Club Marina in Jacksonville

Central East Florida

  • Eau Gallie Yacht Basin in Melbourne
  • Fort Pierce City Marina in Fort Pierce
  • Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona Beach
  • Harbortown Marina in Merrit Island
  • Melbourne Harbor Marina in Melbourne
  • New Smyrna City Marina in New Smyrna Beach
  • Titusville Municipal Marina in Titusville
  • Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce
  • Vero Beach Municipal Marina Vero Beach

Central Florida

  • Astor Bridge Marina in Astor
  • Green Cove Springs Marina in Green Cove Springs
  • Monroe Harbour Marina in Sanford
  • Sanford Boat Works and Marina in Sanford

Central West Florida

  • Blind Pass Marina in Saint Pete Beach
  • Gulfport Municipal Marina in Gulfport
  • Harborage Marina in Saint Petersburg
  • Longboat Key Club Moorings in Bradenton
  • Pasadena Marina in Saint Petersburg
  • Regatta Pointe Marina in Bradenton
  • Riviera Dunes Marina in Palmetto
  • Saint Petersburg Municipal Marina in Saint Pete
  • Twin Dolphin Marina in Bradenton

South West Florida

  • Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda
  • Calusa Island Marina in Goodland
  • Fort Myers City Yacht Basin in Fort Myers
  • Legacy Harbour Marina in Fort Myers
  • Marco Island Marina in Marco Island
  • Marinatown Yacht Harbour in North Fort Myers
  • Old Cover Marina in Naples
  • Port of the Islands Marina in Naples
  • Snook Bight Marina in Fort Myers Beach

South East Florida

  • Boot Key Harbour City Marina in Marathon
  • Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove Miami
  • Hollywood Marina in Hollywood
  • Harbour Town Marina in Dania
  • Lauderdale Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale
  • Marina Bay Resort in Fort Lauderdale
  • Miami Beach Marina in Miami Beach
  • Palm Harbour Marina in West Palm Beach
  • Royale Palm Yacht Basin in Dania Beach

Conclusion

Hopefully, one of the above marinas has what you are looking for. A definitive answer for the best marina in Florida is very hard to answer. You could even argue that it is impossible. What is perfect for you might not be perfect for someone else. It depends so much on your budget and needs. If you are free to live wherever you choose because you work from home; then you are in luck. Some of the more northern marinas are a lot cheaper and far quieter. They offer a much more relaxed pace of life. Conversely, though, they don’t offer as many opportunities for work or play. There is more to do on South Beach than there is in the north. That’s for sure.

Remember, if water and power aren’t included in the lease you need to get an estimate before you choose a place. It may look cheaper but in the end, winds up being far more expensive when all the extra bills come in to play.

FAQs

What boat is best for liveaboard? ›

Which boat types make the best liveaboard vessels? Houseboats, Trawlers and Catamarans make the best liveaboards, although they each vary greatly in their design. Motor Yachts and Express Cruisers are also good options.

Can you live on your boat in a marina in Florida? ›

You can pick pretty much any marina in the world and live there. So long as you can afford the Marina fees, you should have no trouble at all. Once you are sure that living full time on your boat is for you, there comes the big question. Where do you want to live?

What is considered a liveaboard in Florida? ›

In Florida, the law defines liveaboards as persons who stay aboard their vessels for 10 days out of any 30 calendar days. Those days do not need to be contiguous. That is the *only* definition under Florida Law.

How big should a liveaboard be? ›

For a sailboat to be considered as a liveaboard, it needs to be at least 30ft. Anything smaller and the boat will be cramped for anyone other than a solo sailor. However, the larger the boat, the greater the cost of ownership. The ideal size sailboat to live on would be 35-45 feet for most people.

Do marinas allow liveaboards? ›

Not every marina does, or there might be a limit to how many liveaboard slips they offer. This is more common on the west coast of the U.S. and Florida due to areas with denser populations. Just be aware that living aboard isn't a given with every marina.

Do you pay taxes if you live on a boat? ›

So, do you have to pay taxes if you live on a boat? Yes, you still have to pay taxes when you reside on a liveaboard boat. However, there are ways to minimize your tax bill as well as multiple tax advantages of living on a boat.

What boat shape is the most stable? ›

Multi-hulled boats are some of the most stable on the water. They also require more room to steer and turn. Examples of common multi-hulled boats are catamarans and pontoon boats .

What is the most stable boat for the ocean? ›

The multihull is the absolute winner in this list, so let's start there. Multihulls are incredibly stable, especially if they consist of two separate hulls (most sailboats). It is generally the most stable hull design out there, in most situations. The exception are extreme weather (and especially wave) conditions.

How long can I anchor my boat in Florida? ›

The vessel may anchor for 3 business days or until the vessel is repaired, whichever occurs first. (b) If imminent or existing weather conditions in the vicinity of the vessel pose an unreasonable risk of harm to the vessel or the persons onboard unless the vessel anchors.

How much does it cost to live on a boat in the Florida Keys? ›

Live-aboard Lease Rates are $25.30 per foot monthly plus $43.60 per person monthly live-aboard fee. All Leases require a deposit equal to one month's rent.

What size boat can you comfortably live on? ›

You will want to choose a vessel that is closer to 30 feet for basic needs, but 50 feet for larger accommodations and more space. One thing many experts say is to never opt for a boat that is too large for a single person to handle: in case of an emergency, you want one person to be able to get the ship to safety.

How much does a liveaboard cost? ›

Liveaboard sailboats in clean and operational condition cost anywhere between $10,000 and $30,000, but some excellent vessels cost less. Finding an affordable sailboat can greatly reduce the overall cost of living the liveaboard lifestyle.

How much does it cost to liveaboard? ›

Depending on how you categorize expenses, the average cost to move to another country can be $1000 - $10,000+. On the low-end, an international move is as cheap as a one-way flight ticket. On the high-end are corporate international relocation packages, where your company pays all the costs to move you abroad.

Can you anchor off the beach in Florida? ›

Can local governments restrict me from anchoring? Under Florida law, boaters who use their boats for navigation (even if only occasionally) cannot be restricted from anchoring by a local jurisdiction (city or county) outside of permitted mooring fields.

What size boat do you need for the ocean? ›

What size boat do you need for ocean crossing? If you are planning on traversing the oceans and seas where the waves and waters can get fairly rough, you should consider looking at boats 30ft and up. A boat this size will better handle the choppy and unpredictable water and currents, as well as longer trips offshore.

What can I expect from a liveaboard? ›

Most liveaboards offer an all-inclusive package with three or four meals a day, snacks, coffee, tea, and water included. These offerings can range from family-style, buffet meals to fine dining, with gourmet entrees and a changing daily menu.

Why do marinas not allow liveaboards? ›

In California, tidal waters, that is anything below the high tide mark, are considered public land (or waters) and cannot be privately owned. Marinas lease those public lands and waters from the state.

How much is a liveaboard boat slip? ›

Liveaboard Charges: 50% of the basic slip rate. Available only on boats 35′ and larger.
...
View Current Slip Rate Schedule.
Slip Size:Basic Monthly Rate:
30′$714.00
33′$727.00
35′$918.00
37′$932.00
18 more rows

How do I get a liveaboard slip? ›

For boaters who want to live year-round on their vessel, a liveaboard slip is a great idea.
...
How To Get A Liveaboard Slip
  1. Sign up on the waiting list for a permanent slip. ...
  2. Play the waiting game… ...
  3. Once you are called off of the list, schedule an inspection. ...
  4. Move on in!

Can you live on a boat permanently? ›

Most marinas require an application for you to move aboard permanently. In some areas, liveaboards aren't permitted or there are long waiting lists. Liveaboard slip fees are usually higher and your insurance rates may increase if your boat becomes your primary residence.

Can a boat be a primary residence in Florida? ›

A boat that has an engine – even if the engine is inoperable – does not count as a “dwelling house.” To be considered for the homestead exemption, a houseboat without an engine must be attached to a dock via walkways and gangplanks and have utilities hooked up and be your sole permanent residence.

How do I avoid paying sales tax on a boat in Florida? ›

A boat that is brought into Florida for the sole purpose of sale at retail by a registered boat dealer or broker is exempt from Florida use tax. The boat must be under the care, custody, and control of the dealer or broker, and personal use of the boat is not permitted while it is in Florida.

How much is boat tax in Florida? ›

All boats sold and/or delivered in this state are subject to Florida's 6 percent sales and use tax, unless exempt. Generally, Florida boat dealers and yacht brokers must collect tax from the purchaser at the time of sale or delivery.

What is the highest quality boat? ›

10 Best Boat Brands & Manufacturers: 2022 Edition
  1. Beneteau. Category: Best Sailboat Boat Brand. ...
  2. Nautique Boats. Category: Best Watersports Boat Brand. ...
  3. Pro-Line Boats. Category: Best Saltwater Fishing Boat Brand. ...
  4. Tracker Boats. Category: Best Freshwater Fishing Boat Brand. ...
  5. Sea Ray. ...
  6. Godfrey Pontoon Boats. ...
  7. Bayliner. ...
  8. Sea-Doo.
3 Feb 2022

What type of hull is best for rough water? ›

V-Bottom Hulls

V-shaped hulls are also planing hulls. They are typical among powerboats, as they allow the boat to reach high speeds and plane on the water while remaining steady in choppy conditions. The deeper the V shape, the better the boat can handle rough water.

What is the smoothest riding boat? ›

As the “V”s of a Tideline hull are narrower and sharper than most of the deepest V mono-hulls, Tideline's hull creates even less impact with the water than the ride of the most deep V mono-hulls, making Tideline one of the smoothest riding boats on the market.

What boat has the least maintenance? ›

Pontoon boats

They run in length from 10 to 30 feet. Most pontoon boats are powered by low maintenance outboard engines. Many of them are made of aluminum so they're durable and relatively lightweight.

What type of boat is best for choppy water? ›

Runabouts and deck boats are “do it all” family boats that can be used for cruising, exploring, watersports and casual angling. The planing hull can be fast and efficient and its vee shape provides a comfortable ride in choppy water. These boats are also easy to trailer.

What can you not attach your boat to in Florida? ›

Florida Anchoring Laws
  • You may not anchor or moor within 150 of any marina, boat ramp, boatyard, or other vessel launching or loading facility.
  • You may not anchor within 300 feet of a facility that services or repairs a yacht with a water line of 120 feet or more in length.

Can I sleep on my boat anywhere? ›

You should avoid any heavy-traffic areas or spots that will be hammered by heavy winds. To find the best spot, you'll want to do some research, using maps to find a good location. You may even want to scout the area in person.

Can you sleep on a boat at anchor? ›

If there are no local ordinances and anchoring laws restricting time at anchor and you're in a legal spot, you can anchor as long as you like. It's not recommended that you leave your boat unattended at anchor for days on end, but if you're on the boat, stay as long as you want.

Is living on a boat cheaper than an apartment? ›

Living on a boat is cheap.

We spent two years living on a sailboat in a marina in Vancouver with a full suite of amenities (power, parking, high-speed internet access, laundry, showers, workshop) and it only cost us $550 a month in liveaboard slip fees (our next best option would have been an apartment for $1100+).

Can you sleep on a boat in Florida? ›

The Sunshine State has many boats available through Airbnb that you can stay on overnight and explore the local area. Here are some top boat Airbnbs in Florida to choose from.

Can you sleep on your boat in the middle of the ocean? ›

As long as there's no severe weather, safety issues are rare when sleeping on a boat at anchor close to shore or in a marina slip. Even sleeping out on open water can be very safe, though you'll need to take some additional steps to ensure you get a safe and restful night of sleep.

What are the cons of living on a boat? ›

Lack of Space

This may be one of the main drawbacks of living aboard your boat, especially if you are looking to house more than one person. Boats, whilst incredibly space-efficient, do not give much space for storage. After your boat is furnished and fully equipped, you will quickly run out of room.

Is a wider boat more stable? ›

Because of the two components of Righting Moment, it is true that wider boats are more stable than narrower boats and boats with lower centers of gravity are more stable than boats with higher centers of gravity.

What size boat do you need to travel the world? ›

Modern round-the-worlders most often choose boats between 35 and 45 feet in size. The minimum length is due to the boat's behaviour in open water and, as a result, the desired level of comfort and safety.

How do people make money while sailing full time? ›

Over the year I've met several boat people that are always happy to help out with boat maintenance and repairs.
...
Here are just a few examples:
  1. Teak repair.
  2. Boat washing/cleaning.
  3. Engine maintenance.
  4. Boat repairs.
  5. Delivery.
  6. Skippering.
  7. Boat handling (teaching)

Can you live and retire on boats? ›

Many decide to retire and travel the United States in their RV, or downsize to a tiny house in their favorite location — so it's no surprise many others choose to live aboard a boat. Many of the same reasons drive retirees to make all three of these living adjustments in retirement: cost, travel and flexibility.

Is there WiFi on a liveaboard? ›

Scuba Instructor

Internet access from a liveaboard is limited to WiFi signals they can pick up while laying offshore at anchor.

Is it cheaper to live on a boat or RV? ›

Owning a smaller boat could help keep the costs down, but an RV will be the cheapest option in most cases.

What makes a good liveaboard boat? ›

Some of the most important amenities to look for when selecting a liveaboard boat is heating and air conditioning, adequate closet space, a fully-functional galley, comfortable master stateroom, and a practical salon with entertainment systems.

Where should you avoid anchoring boat? ›

Never anchor from the stern as this can cause the boat to swamp. The square stern may be hit by waves, and water will splash into the boat. The motor's weight will add to this problem. Slowly back the boat away downwind or downcurrent.

How close can a boat get to the beach in Florida? ›

As already stated all boats must stay at least 200 metres from the shore and 100 metres from the cliffs, so for this reason no boat of any type or size may be sailed from 8.30a.m. to 19.30p.m. within this restricted area (not even windsurfs or kitesurfs), with the exception of the following: yawls, pleasure boats, ...

Where in the US can you live on a boat year round? ›

Live Aboard in the Chesapeake Bay

Due to the protection against harsh weather, many areas of the Chesapeake Bay naturally offer year-round living in harbors and marinas. It's very viable. In most larger metro areas around the Chesapeake Bay, expect to pay between $5,000 and $8,000 annually.

Do you have to pay taxes if you live on a yacht? ›

So, do you have to pay taxes if you live on a boat? Yes, you still have to pay taxes when you reside on a liveaboard boat. However, there are ways to minimize your tax bill as well as multiple tax advantages of living on a boat.

Which state is famous for boat house? ›

Kerala. When it comes to houseboat cruising and backwaters, Kerala is the most sought-after destination. The traditional houseboats of Kerala are known as Kettuvallam, which are famous for overnight stays and short backwater trips.

Which state is famous for its houseboat? ›

Kerala Houseboat

Kerala is renowned for its magnificent vistas, rich vegetation, and houseboats, in addition to its backwaters. The traditional houseboat of Kerala is known by the name Kettuvallam. The greatest areas in Kerala for houseboat vacations include Alappuzha, Vembanad, and Kollam.

Which lake is famous for house boats? ›

Lake Shasta, California

Just like fans of Lake Cumberland, Lake Shasta enthusiasts also claim it to be the "Houseboating Capital of the World".

What is the boat capital of the US? ›

Fort Lauderdale

For years, Ft Lauderdale has been referred to as the 'boating capital of the world', based on the sheer number of boats in the many marinas at any one time.

Do people live on boats in Florida? ›

People can't afford to live here so they have to live out there and then you're going to make it harder for them to live out there?" Liveaboard life is one of last ways to live relatively cheaply in the Florida Keys is on a boat, especially "on the hook."

How much do boat slips cost in Florida? ›

$12 to $50/ft per year for regular docking slip. $120 to $240/ft per year for prime locations like Florida and Los Angeles.

Can I claim benefits if I live on a boat? ›

If you're on a low income, you can usually get universal credit or housing benefit to help pay your: mooring fees. a continuous cruiser licence. rent if you do not own your boat.

How much does it cost to retire live on a boat? ›

It could cost between $500-$10,000+ per month to retire on a sailboat. This number covers the wide range of variables in spending that can occur from person to person. A frugal person living at anchor on a boat they own may live on as little as $500/month.

Can you sleep while sailing? ›

Most sailboats have cabins with sleeping quarters. While underway in the open ocean, sailboat crews sleep in shifts between two and six hours long. Single-handed sailors wake up briefly every few hours to check their heading and watch for other ships.

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