Living on a Boat Year Round

Like many raised in the dry plains of West Texas, I’ve always been fascinated with water, from rivers and lakes to the mother of all, the ocean. My attraction to the sea was nurtured by the TV shows and novels of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s that featured characters with homes on the water.
There was Sonny Crockett of “Miami Vice,” the ultra-cool police detective who lived on an Endeavor 42 sailboat, and Quincy M.E., the Los Angeles medical examiner in a series of the same name who lived on a sailboat in Marina Del Rey, Calif. John McDonald wrote 20 novels about private eye Travis McGee, who won his houseboat “Busted Flush” in a poker game. Across the pond, Scotland yard detective John Maven lived on a covered barge in the Thames in Donald MacKenzie’s Raven book series.
As these examples illustrate, we often associate living on the water with wealth, adventure, and freedom. But is it something you could realistically do full-time? Let’s take a closer look at what living on the water entails.

Popular Places for Water Residence

Paul Miles, a narrowboat (i.e., canal boat) owner, claims in Financial Times that more than 10,000 people live on boats in London and more than a quarter of England’s 33,000 inland boats are permanent residences. There are similar resident boating communities around the world, including an ocean community in Hong Kong where foreign airline pilots live until their contracts are finished.
While there are no reliable statistics regarding the number of people in the United States who live on boats year-round, also known as “liveaboards,” the blog BetterBoat notes, “there are all sorts of great places to live [in the U.S.] aboard a boat” thanks to 95,471 of miles of coastlines (including Hawaii and Alaska), plenty of rivers, and oh-so-many lakes. Those who prefer saltwater to freshwater might consider the following locations.

  • San Diego, CA. The climate is hard to beat — never too hot or too cold — and laws and regulations are favorable to boat living. While it’s illegal to drop anchor offshore for extended periods, there are plenty of clean, orderly, and safe marinas. Expect to pay a premium for a slip large enough to accommodate a boat fit for full-time living. After all, San Diego is among the most beautiful areas in the country.
  • Corpus Christi, TX. Those who prefer to live on the Gulf Coast will enjoy this coastal city and its naval roots. Local laws favor boat residence, and the cost of marina slips is less expensive than in popular areas on either coast.
  • The Chesapeake Bay Area. There are multiple marinas in cities around Maryland and Virginia that are generally protected from harsh weather. Expect to pay $5,000 to $8,000 annually for a marina and other costs here.

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The Pros & Cons of Pool Ownership

“Success will be when I can have a real swimming pool instead of the fifty-dollar one I buy at Kmart every year,” quips singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff. For many, pools are a status symbol signifying “luxury, leisure, and above all, glamor,” according to Lucy Scholes of the BBC. They’re also a lot of fun.

Swimming is one of the most popular outdoor activities in the United States, behind only exercise walking, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. It improves flexibility, stretches muscles, and helps you lose weight. According to Tom Holland, an exercise physiologist and triathlete, an hour of vigorous swimming burns up to 700 calories — more calories than walking or biking for the same duration.

It also offers mental health benefits. In his book “Blue Mind,” Marine biologist Wallace J. Nichols claims that humans feel better when they interact with water, which can put us into a “mildly meditative state characterized by calm, peacefulness, unity and a sense of general happiness and satisfaction with life.”

Once considered a luxury only the wealthiest could afford, private swimming pool ownership has exploded since the 1950s and 1960s as a result of higher incomes, improved technology, and new pool financing sources. Today, approximately 10.4 million homes in the United States have swimming pools, according to the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals. Should your home be one of them? Let’s take a look.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Pool

While a swimming pool can be great fun for you and your family, pool ownership isn’t something to be entered into lightly. Here are the questions you should ask yourself when deciding whether to install a swimming pool or purchase a home with a pool installed.

1. How Old Are Your Children?

Children and teenagers tend to use swimming pools more than other age groups, spending more time swimming than doing other recreational activities, according to the Census Bureau.

I built a pool when my children ranged from two to seven years of age. They were in it almost every day in the spring, summer, and early fall until they left for college. However, having neither the time nor inclination to swim, my wife and I rarely used the pool after that until our first grandchild arrived.

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9 Easy Ways to Make Housing More Affordable

Shelter is one of our basic human needs. A home protects us from the elements and predators, provides a sense of well-being and intimacy, and secures our social status in the community. In many ways, a house or shelter represents and defines the quality of life we experience.
Unfortunately, housing costs are the single greatest expense for an average family, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). In 2015, housing costs represented 19.1% of total household expenditures in 2015. That figure doesn’t even include related expenses including property taxes, insurance, or utilities.
For generations, purchasing a home was considered almost risk-free, the value of the home certain to grow over time. Many Americans discovered in the 2008-2009 recession that home prices could decline. According to the National Center of Policy Analysis, more American families lost their homes in 2008 (10 million) than in the 1930s Depression and Dust Bowl.
Affordability should be the primary factor in determining the place and size of your home. Here are some actionable tips to help keep your costs down.

Reducing Your Major Housing Costs

Controlling your housing costs is essential if you want to live within your means. The following tips will help you manage the expense.
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Understanding Tax Benefits of Real Estate Investment Properities

Renting versus buying can be a difficult choice. Still, according to The Wall Street Journal, almost two-thirds of American households own homes. Many more own rental properties or second vacation homes. By contrast, a Gallup Poll found that only one-half of Americans own stocks.
Home equity is the foundation of personal wealth in the United States, representing about two-thirds of net worth for most American households, per Bloomberg. The expansion of home ownership has been stimulated by government programs and tax advantages to incentivize the purchase of houses. According to a study in Social Forces, home ownership leads to “a stronger economy, better schools, and an invested, proactive citizenry.” Homeowners have higher voting rates and are more involved in civic organizations.
Owning real estate has some unique financial advantages. For example, homeowners can deduct their mortgage interest, mortgage insurance premiums, and property taxes from ordinary income. Also, proceeds from the sale of a house are treated as capital gains for taxes – up to $250,000 of the gain can be excluded from income for a single taxpayer or $500,000 for a couple filing a joint return.
Owning a home or investment real estate offers huge advantages to both society and you individually. Here’s how to get the most out of your investment.

Real Estate as an Investment

Owning an investment property is significantly different than owning the property in which one lives. While investors share many common risks – illiquidity, lack of transparency, political and economic uncertainty – each investment property is unique, varying by use, location, improvement, and permanence. Each investment can be subject to a bewildering collection of tax rules, all of which affect the net return on investment.
Andy Heller, co-author of “Buy Even Lower: The Regular People’s Guide to Real Estate Riches,” notes that most people pay too much for their properties: “The profit is locked in immediately once the investor buys the property. Due to mistakes in analysis, the investor pays too much and then is surprised when he doesn’t make any money.”
Heller advises that success in real estate investing requires:
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