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Choosing the Best Boat for Seniors: A Guide to Retiring on a Boat

Retirement is a time to focus on you. The kids have flown the nest, work is a thing of the past, and you have endless days in front of you to either embark on adventures or slow down and soak up the tranquillity. Where better to do any of that than on a boat? Down-sizing your home and living a simpler life where you are more connected to nature might be the very thing you’re seeking - read about the pros and cons of Living on a Boat Year Round to help you make your decision. If you have your heart set on a life on the water, it’s time to buy the perfect floating home. Here we take a look at very different options available to retire on a boat.


Types of boats for seniors you can live on

Ocean Liveaboard Boats

If you’ve dreamed of sailing the world or having the freedom to explore wherever takes your fancy, then you’ll be looking to buy an ocean-going boat. The good news is there are lots of different types to choose from. Ultimately budget, space, aesthetics and how far you want to travel will be your deciding factors when making your choice. So let’s narrow it down.


Monohull Sailboat

The classic sailboat comes in all manner of shapes and sizes. They are the essence of ocean-going freedom, economical both in their purchase price and travel costs (wind power is free!), and ready for adventure. Finding a berth is usually easy and affordable, or they can be easily moored on anchor. On the downside, sailboats lack space, and many smaller models won’t have fridges, showers or hot water. You’ll need to consider size carefully, both for operational reasons – can you sail it single-handedly if needed? – but also keep in mind that running costs rise with size. We have a huge selection of sailboats for sale across the world.  


Multihull Sailboat

If you’re looking for a full suite of amenities such as a house-sized kitchen and bathroom, plus oodles of extra living space then a multi-hull – catamaran or trimaran - makes for an excellent ocean-going liveaboard. The bridge between the hulls creates a light and airy above-water living space, with the bedrooms tucked into the hulls. They are also more stable than monohull boats, so for those with a delicate stomach in a high sea, these are becoming increasingly popular. Multi-hull boats tend to cost more to purchase, and because of their width will also incur higher berthing costs, so this is something to take into account. See our selection of multihull boats for sale by top boat builders such as Lagoon, Fountaine Pajot and Leopard.



Trawlers are a unique type of powerboat designed for long distance cruising and perfectly suited to living on full time. While their origins can be traced back to commercial fishing boats – and there is plenty of these full- displacement, ballasted hull models still in operation - modern trawlers are a very different animal. Wide hulls, less draft, below-deck headroom and plenty of space for mod cons make these a hugely popular choice. You’ll find full-sized kitchens, showers, and multi-level living space, especially on the larger models. In fact, they don’t even need to be that much longer – a 35-foot trawler is much roomier than a 35-foot sailboat, for example. What’s the downside we hear you ask? The initial purchase cost of trawlers is considerably higher than sailboats, and of course, running an engine is more costly for cruising than doing so by sail. Check out our huge collection of trawlers for sale, including the modern styles of Trader Motor Yachts, Grand Banks and Fountaine Pajot.



A luxury superyacht – defined as one over 24 metres in length - brings elegance, spaciousness, home comforts and the ultimate in ocean-going seaworthiness to the table. They are the complete package when it comes to living on board. Of course, they come with a much higher price tag, plus berthing fees, maintenance and even crew for the larger yachts. Around the world, luxury yacht marinas are extremely well-equipped, with restaurants, gyms, swimming pools and yacht clubs creating a community feel. Rightboat.com has an impressive line-up of superyachts for sale from the world’s top shipbuilders including Princess, Benetti, Feadship and Azimut Yachts.


River, Lake, and Canal Liveaboard Boats

Retiring and moving on to a life on the water doesn’t have to be about cruising the great oceans. The joy of waking up to the sounds of birds chirping and the gentle slap of water on the hull, or of connecting to nature and living a simple life is just some of the appeal of living on a boat year round. Swapping sea-worthiness for space is a huge trade-off, and there are many different types of river, canal or static boats which offer a more residential feel. In addition to those designed specifically for inland waterways, sailboats and trawlers are also excellent options to consider too.



In the UK and Europe, canals are the main arteries weaving through the landscape, and as such boats have historically needed to be narrow to squeeze along them. Narrowboats have been around since the 18th century, and their pretty, decorated hulls are an iconic part of canal life. Measuring around 20 metres in length, and with a superstructure which is designed for outdoor living, they are well-designed for life on the gentle canal waters. Whilst they are long they are also, as you might expect, very narrow – about 6 feet 10 inches (2.08 m) to be precise. So storage space is at a premium, as is personal space. Having said that, they are very affordable liveaboard options, they can travel easily through locks and pretty countryside canals, and can be maintained easily. If cruising the world’s best canal and river boating destinations is your idea of a dream retirement, check out our range of narrowboats and barges by boat builders Liverpool Boats or Collingwood.   


Wide Beam Canal Boats

These are a good option for those wanting the extra space which a traditional narrowboat simply can’t offer. They are built up to 13 feet wide, and can accommodate full-sized kitchens and appliances. However, because of their size, they cannot fit along all canals and through the locks so their cruising area is limited. If you want freedom and flexibility, this might not be the choice. If you’re looking for space and comfort in a more static environment, these types of boats are excellent value for money. In addition to wide beam canal boats, there is an impressive array of converted barges, both English and Dutch, on the market. These types of boats can range from 40 feet to 120 feet in length, with the larger models suitable only on rivers. Take a look at our range of wide beam canal boats and barges for sale by manufacturers such as Tingdene Colecraft, SP Longboats Fitout, and Collingwood.


Static Houseboats and Floating Homes

Non-powered houseboats, common in the United States, are a true home-on-the-water. A steel floating pontoon supports a mobile home type structure on the top, providing large amounts of living space, big windows to soak up the views, and all the amenities and home comforts you want. They can be towed from place to place, but are otherwise static in a residential community along rivers, lakes, sheltered bays and inland waterways. With municipal utilities, cable television and broadband internet connections, they give you the best of both worlds. There are some great deals to be found on second hand floating homes, and a whole range of architect-designed bespoke options which can be commissioned. For great inspiration see our selection of houseboats for sale by Lakeview, LazyDays and often bespoke models.


Powered Houseboats

These self-propelled residential vessels come in many guises and make for a top choice of retirement liveaboard. While some will be limited in the distance they can travel and be more reminiscent of the static houseboats, others have plenty of cruising power and are ready for coastal adventures. With a squarer silhouette, powered houseboats can accommodate an impressive amount of living space for their length – a 12 metre Holiday Mansion, for example, has a cosy salon, kitchen with full-sized fridge freezer, and bathroom with a shower. Another plus is their attractive price – check out the big range of powered houseboats for sale including Holiday Mansion, Skipperliner, Gibson, Chris-Craft and many.


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Written By: Samantha Wilson

Samantha Wilson has spent her entire life on and around boats, from tiny sailing dinghies all the way up to superyachts. She writes for many boating and yachting publications, top charter agencies, and some of the largest travel businesses in the industry, combining her knowledge and passion of boating, travel and writing to create topical, useful and engaging content.

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