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How Much Does a Boat Cost on Average?

How Much Does a Boat Cost on Average?

Are you wondering how much a boat costs? If yes, you should check out our guide below on the prices you can expect.

Americans are buying boats at unprecedented rates. From kayaks to super-yachts, sellers are struggling to keep up with demand.

As many as three-quarters of current and prospective buyers are new to boat ownership. This has many would-be buyers wondering, “how much does a boat cost?” If you’ve been wondering the same thing, here’s what you need to know about the cost of a boat. 

Pinning Down a Number Can Be Hard

Asking “how much do boats cost?” is very similar to asking how much it costs to buy a house or a car. The answer can vary wildly depending on a variety of factors. 

Boat cost is influenced by:

  • Size and style
  • Brand
  • New vs used status
  • Demand
  • Location 
  • Features and extras
Man lying on a boat Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

Photo by Alex Block on Unsplash

Size and Style

Unsurprisingly, larger boats tend to be more expensive than smaller ones. Boats with cabins and enclosed cockpits are also likely to be more expensive than open-top boats. The more extensive the enclosed space, the more costly the boat. 

Brand

Investing in a good name brand boat can cost more upfront but save you money and hassle long term. Duffy Boats, for instance, is a well-known and well-respected boat maker. Buying a generic boat of similar design won’t net you the same quality, reliability, or support over the lifetime of your boat ownership as buying a Duffy.  

New vs Used Status

At face value, used boats are cheaper than new boats. They can be harder and more costly to customize, however. They may also need costly repairs down the line if previous owners have not cared for them well.   

But if you’ve made the decision to buy a used boat, Zeboats is one of the most popular platforms in the industry that might help you in no time. Simple user-friendly interface, direct offers from boat owners, and most important, no additional commission.

Demand and Location

During periods of high demand, boats can cost more than they would during the off-season. Similarly, buying a boat in a high-demand market can be costlier than buying in a low-demand geographic market. 

What all of this means is that a cabin cruiser may cost around $100,000 if you buy a basic or generic model during the off-season. The same size and style of boat may cost closer to $500,000 if you buy a brand name during peak season with all the bells and whistles. With that said, there are some general guidelines you can use to get a good idea of what your ideal boat will cost. 

yachting

Photo by MILKOVÍ on Unsplash

Pricing by Types of Boats

Each category of boat has its own standard price range. This information can make a great starting point for deciding what type of boat is right for you. Typically:

  • Jon boats cost between $500 and $3,000
  • Catamarans start at $10,000 
  • Sail Boats start at $12,000 
  • Pontoon Boats and Bow Rider boats cost between $15,000 and $50,000
  • Deck Boats cost between $20,000 and $50,000
  • Fishing Boats cost between $25,000 and $100,000
  • Airboats cost between $30,000 and $100,000
  • Cuddy Cabin boats start at $50,000 
  • Speed Boats start at $75,000
  • Trawlers start at $90,000 
  • Canal Boats and House Boats start at $100,000 
  • Cabin Cruisers cost between $100,000 and $500,000
  • Yachts start at $300,000

These figures provide a convenient scale for average boat price. Determining what you’ll actually pay, however, means considering what accessories and features your boat needs. 

Features and Cost 

Like cars, boats come in basic and fully loaded models. You can also pick and choose which options are most important to you if you’re looking for something in between. Which features you choose will depend on: 

  • The type of boat you select
  • When and where you will be boating
  • With whom you plan to boat
  • Your experience level as a boat owner 
  • Your personal priorities

For example, families planning to go boating with small children may invest in extra safety measures to ensure little ones’ safety on the water. Boaters planning to explore particularly challenging waters may want upgraded navigational tools. Boaters who intend to host friends and family might find a top-of-the-line stereo system a must-have.  

Boats you will travel on extensively will require different features than those you intend to use primarily for day trips. 

Popular features and options that can influence your final boat price include: 

  • State-of-the-art Chartplotters
  • Stereo and AV systems
  • Specialty lighting
  • Battery chargers
  • Sunshades
  • Swim platforms (hydraulic or otherwise)
  • Windlass anchors
  • Autopilot and GPS Position Holding
  • Power steering 
  • Joystick Controls
  • Custom finishes and flooring
  • Vacuflush Head Systems
  • Satellite Weather Tracking
  • Air conditioning and climate control in cockpits or cabins

Long Term Vs Short Term Costs

One thing prospective owners often forget to take into account when asking “how much is a boat?” is long term costs. Long term, to truly enjoy your boat you need to invest in the features that will: 

  • Make your boat a pleasure to sail
  • Minimize maintenance demands
  • Keep your boat looking and functioning its best

Optional costs such as good warranties and protective coatings can increase your costs slightly at the time of purchase. Over the lifetime of the boat, however, they can save you enormous amounts of time and money.

Other Expenses 

Finally, there are miscellaneous expenses to consider when buying a boat. While these costs are not necessarily part of the sticker price, they will directly impact how much your boat costs. These miscellaneous costs include:

  • Financing
  • Mooring fees
  • Boat trailers
  • Fuel
  • Boat storage
  • Insurance 
  • Licensing fees (where applicable) 

Financing a boat can substantially add to its final cost. When financing, take the time to shop around for the best possible rates and terms. Even small reductions in interest rates can save you large sums of money. 

Costs such as storage, mooring fees, and trailers can vary. If you live on the water, for instance, you may be able to store your boat at your own dock for free. Boat owners in high-demand locations, by contrast, may face steep fees to keep their boats in a convenient spot. 

Licensing requirements and fuel costs are different from region to region. Understanding the costs in your area can help you more accurately predict your overall costs.

How much does a boat cost?

How much does a boat cost? The only way to know precisely is to talk to a reputable dealer in your area about exactly what you want and need. In the meantime, check out our other great posts on how to make the most of your summer!


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