How Much Does a Boat Cost to Maintain?

  • Post category:Money Misc.

The day you purchase a boat may be one of the best days of your life. While owning a boat is a blast, it also comes with a lot of financial responsibility. Just like a car, a boat needs regular tune-ups and maintenance to keep it running correctly. There is also unscheduled maintenance that pops up every now and then when something goes wrong. Anytime something has moving parts, it's going to require consistent care. So roughly how much does a boat cost to maintain?

Owning a boat can around $4,000-$5,000 a year for the average boat, all the way up to $10,000 or more for a luxurious yacht. Either way, you are going to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars a month owning a boat. 

Yachts tied up to a jetty on the Potomac river at dusk in Alexandria, VA, How Much Does a Boat Cost to Maintain?

Continue reading below as we go into more detail and break down the costs behind owning a boat and answer frequently asked questions.

What Do You Have To Pay For To Maintain A Boat?

Government Fees

Owning a boat requires a lot more than you might assume. It's not as easy as buying a boat and storing it somewhere. The government treats boats almost like cars and excepts them to be regulated as such.

In some states, where you park your boat matters, and some states recognize your boat and where you store it as a property to tax. With that being said, if you store your boat in a place where they will charge you property tax, then you can expect to pay anywhere from 1-1.5% of your boat's assessed value. This is a hidden tax not everyone knows about since it is not enforced in all states. Check with your local state to see if this is a tax you will be charged.

While boat insurance may or may not be government-mandated, most people want boat insurance, whether they have to or not. Boat insurance can cost anywhere from $200-$600 or more depending on what kind of boat you own, how big it is, and what type of coverage you have.

Registration is another fee you must pay to own and operate a boat on any body of water. This fee ranges anywhere from $32 to over $150 a year.

Monthly Payment

This does not apply to everyone, but a lot of boat owners take out loans to help pay for their new toy. This means they will owe monthly payments for their boat. The price you'll pay per month all depends on your credit score and how much the boat costs. If you are lucky enough to have paid for your boat in full, then you can avoid this payment altogether.

Mooring and Winter Storage

One aspect of boat ownership to keep in mind is where you are going to keep it throughout the year. If you can't keep it on your own property, you're going to have to invest in mooring or some other form of storage. Mooring is where you keep your boat in the water attached to something that forces the boat to stay put. Storing it in the water somewhere can cost anywhere from $800-$1,800 per year. It all depends on your conditions: the type of boat you own, where you are storing it, and for how long.

Winter storage is another part of storing a boat. A lot of people take their boats out of the water and store them in garages or other storage areas. This helps to keep the boat in good condition during the harsh cold. Storing your boat during the winter can cost another a couple hundred all the way to one or two thousand for the winter. Again, it all depends on where you store it and how big your boat is.


Unless you decide to leave your boat on the lake all year round, chances are you will need to own a trailer. You can find these used for a couple of hundred dollars or a new one for a few thousand. But you can't use just any old trailer for your boat. Boat trailers are specially designed to carry the frame of a boat and make it easy for it to slide into the water. You'll need to buy one to transport your boat.

Maintenance and Fuel

This can either be one of the highest or smallest costs. Maintenance on a boat could cost you $50 one year and $5,000 the next. Making sure you get regular tune-ups and check-ups can help you avoid significant expenses when it comes to maintenance.

Fuel is another cost many people don't take into consideration. When you add up how much fuel you purchased over a year, it can be quite a big deal. They use much more fuel than most would expect. On average, a tank may hold 25 gallons. You may use 25 gallons every 1-4 hours out on the lake, depending on what you are doing. Factor that in with the number of days you plan to spend on the water, and you can come up with a semi-accurate, anticipated budget for fuel.

Safety Equipment

Lastly, safety equipment is a must-have when owning a boat. You'll need at least one life jacket for every member on board, and you'll need specific fire extinguishers depending on the type of boat you own. A good life jacket can cost $40-$100, but you may be able to find better deals out there. A reputable fire extinguisher can cost $75-$200 or more depending on the brand.

How Much Does It Cost To Maintain A Small Yacht?

A man polishing side of the white boat in the marina

Owning a boat and owning a yacht are two very different things. One is a vehicle, and the other is considered a house on the water. As diverse as the price of cars and homes can be, so too are the prices of boats and yachts.

Some of the smallest yachts sell for close to a million dollars, while the average price of a yacht is closer to 9 million dollars. You can expect the cost to use and maintain a yacht each year will be around 10% of what it cost to purchase. So if you bought a 9 million dollar yacht, it might cost you almost a million dollars a year to use it regularly. These costs will include fuel, hiring staff for the yacht, food, maintenance, and all the other expenses we've discussed thus far.

How Much Does A Boat Oil Change Cost?

Depending on how many engines your boat has, it could cost anywhere from $100 to $200. There could also be smaller shops that do it for less than that. But this is the estimated price it would cost for a professional to do the job.

What Is Included In A Boat Tune-Up And How Much Does It Cost?

A tune-up is when a professional takes a look at your boat and looks for anything that needs to be updated, replaced, or fixed. This could include an oil change or more. They typically look at the main components of your boat to see if everything is running correctly. If they do a simple tune-up on a small boat with no significant problems, it could cost $100. If it's a larger boat and there are a few problems, then it could cost $1,000. It all depends on the shape your boat is in and what needs to be done.

How Long Do Boat Engines Last?

Repairing inflatable motorboat engine at boat garage

The average life expectancy of a boat engine is around 1,500 hours. This is just an average, meaning your boat may last way longer than this, or it may experience pretty huge mechanical issues well before 1,500 hours. When your boat reaches this many hours, it does not always mean it's time to get a new engine. This is why you get regular tune-ups, so you can drive it as long as possible and know the status of your engine.

Is A Boat A Good Investment?

Like a car, a boat is considered a depreciating asset. As investments go, a boat is not going to give you a return on your money from a financial standpoint. In that regard, it is a bad investment. However, boats can be a fantastic purchase because they are meant to supply you and your family and friends with years of fun on the water. Even though they are not good investments in regards to making a return on your money, they are incredible investments in relation to the fun you and your family will have.


Boats can cost a lot of money to maintain, but in the end, they can be well worth the money you may spend. Making sure you are prepared and knowledgable in the costs it takes to own a boat will help you enjoy it that much more. With all this in mind, owning a boat can be both financially responsible and a fantastic purchase.

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