Can I afford a Boat, or Jet Skis?

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Who doesn’t love and cherish the moments on vacation where you drive or take the passenger seat on a sea-faring motor vehicle? It’s typically on our vacations and holidays where we deem it acceptable enough to whip out the money to endorse an otherwise too expensive activity such as taking out a set of jet skis for a few hours, or an entire boat for an afternoon.

The danger of taking these water crafts out on the high seas or open lakes is not collisions, or capsizing, or reckless driving/floating, –but falling in love with the idea of floating and water cruising long after vacation is over. It’s harmless thought, but it’s all fun and games until you start looking up boat and Jet Ski store locations for when you get back home.

Here is a breakdown of some of the criteria you need to know before you let your daydream of owning your own water cruiser drift too far out to sea.


We know from experience…

I had a friend who had the exact same dilemma: He and his family went on vacation and met up with a friend who had their own boat that they used for fishing and on the lake sun-bath sessions, and along with their own boat, they had a pair of jet skis docked in front of their lakeside home. My friend ate up the idea that this was the way to live, and the only way he could continue living was to procure his own boat, and eventually buy his own set of jet skis for him and his own family to enjoy.

When my friend got back home from that luxurious and posh holiday, he looked into it further and bought his own seafaring vessel from a marina-adjacent resident who was more than eager to sell. The dream was coming together, and at first it really was a great idea, but after the first three months, my friend received a phone call while he was at work that went something along the lines of “Are you the owner of the big blue and green fishing boat on dock 18? Well we must inform you that it is currently floating sideways due to what looks like a leak filling the interior cabin, and it will continue to capsize unless you get down here right away.”

Needless to say he rushed over to the marina, but arrived only in time to witness the final roll of his newly purchased but barely used boat, and watched as it began to sink lower, taking all of his and his family’s belongings left inside with it. On the drive home was when it dawned on him: Buying my own boat probably wasn’t such a great idea after all.


The floating cash pit.

My friend’s story is not that far off from what many other larger boat owners can own up to. An idea that seems innocent enough, but in reality was the cause of a much bigger headache than earlier anticipated. Although my friend’s boat was the victim of an unattended to leak, other boat owners all confess that a boat is a lot of work, a lot of attention, and a lot of money to keep and maintain.

Besides just maintenance of the boat itself, its motor, hull, and general interiors and exteriors, you also need to transport and house it if you intend to own it for yourself. Trailers for boats and jet skis can equal a pretty large fraction of the vehicle itself depending on where you look, and the fees to keep your boat can be very expensive depending on where you wish to leave it while it is not in use. You can pay to keep it at the marina and in the water, or you can keep it at your house tucked away in your driveway or backyard so that it can gather dust and dirt in the months that you are not using it.

While it sits unattended to in the driveway or backyard or street, the feeling of buyers-remorse tends to sink in and become unignorable whenever you pass by a window that overlooks your supposed-to-be water bound investment.


Think of it as a floating car.

Besides paying for maintenance for your water craft, as well as housing and payments for the vehicle itself, you also have to pay for registration and insurance on your vessel. Despite what you may have first thought, a boat and a jet ski still are high powered motor vehicles, and are treated very similarly to that of land faring vehicles.

Besides that, you also need to have a Personal Watercraft License to operate your purchase on open and public waters. So unless you have your own private lake or other body of water that is closed off to other public passersby, you need to treat your purchase as if you are buying a car: be insured, have it registered, and qualify to receive your own license to operate it.


Depreciation, boredom, and you.

The truth of the matter is that the purchase of a boat is more than likely a purchase that you will not enjoy in the long haul, unless of course you intend to monetize your purchase by renting it out to other boat licensed enthusiasts, or for your jet skis to be rented out by the hour to water sports fans.

A water craft, despite how fun, innocent, and honest intentioned they may have earlier seemed will eventually leave the buyer with the feeling of boredom. This does not happen to everybody, but a majority of boat owners who thought they would be on the water more than just a few times a year originally thought that if they had a boat of their own, they would be on the waves that much more often. For one reason or another, the boat always remains dry-docked a good portion of the year.


Buy versus rent.

The best days a boat owner can have is the day they buy it, and the day they sell it” is a line known and repeated by veteran boat and water craft buyers, and a line that is shared to any incoming boat buyers. Buying a boat is a very large investment into a novelty that will not yield much of any return. As boat prices depreciate the longer it is owned and used, your thought process of “I’ll just have my fun with it and then sell it after” is more than likely not going to have you coming out on top.

It’s much easier to continue renting than buying your experiences with boats, jet skis, and any other watercraft vehicles for this summer. You’ll save a ton of cash and trouble as a result, and also avoid many sleepless and regret filled nights.


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