Living on a Boat in Florida - Best Liveaboard Marinas, Costs and Tips - Better Sailing (2023)

Many people would consider switching their land-based life for living aboard if they could wake up to the sound of waves lapping against the boat and seagulls fluttering overhead. The liveaboard life appeals to many people, sailors or not. Thousands of people have already abandoned the hustle and bustle of the city and chose the liveaboard life. If you’re already a Florida resident, you’re probably a big fan of the weather, sea, and boats. You may have contemplated relocating to a boat because you are charmed with the idea of spending all of your time on the water.

In Florida, you can live aboard a boat, but you must follow certain laws and regulations. While it may appear to be a straightforward change of life, there are a variety of restrictions that apply to living aboard a boat. In this article, you’ll learn about living aboard a boat in Florida, the rules that govern this lifestyle, and any obstacles you might experience. So, keep reading!

Information about Living Aboard in Florida

Florida is a wonderful place to call home. There’s so much to do, so much to see, and so many job options. Florida has a reputation for being a strange state, but it is just that: a reputation. In fact, Florida is a very safe state with rigorous rules and a high level of transparency. Florida is an open book, so if that appeals to you, that may be enough of a reason to relocate there. Consider this if you’re looking for a job as well.

Keep in mind that there is no income tax in Florida. If you earn $50,000 a year, you could lose anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000 in taxes each year. Getting a job there is like getting a raise right away. This is also something to keep in mind when calculating your marina slip budget. You’ll have a lot more disposable income, so you might be surprised at how much more you’ll have to spend on a high-end marina slip in a prime location.

Florida, or any other coastal area, appears to be an ideal spot for mooring your boat and living aboard. While this is a distinct possibility, there are numerous restrictions in place to safeguard both coastal marinas and boat owners. It’s crucial to keep in mind that not all boats are suitable for living on. The term “liveaboard vessel” refers to boats that are used to live on. When a boat is referred to as a liveaboard boat, it simply means that the owner chooses to make the vessel his permanent dwelling. Making your boat your home can be simple enough, but there are a few things to consider before making the step.

The decision to live on a boat is a major lifestyle change that should not be taken lightly. When you decide to live aboard a boat, you must first decide how long you want to stay. Some people choose to live aboard a boat only during the summer, while others wish to do so all year. If you live on the boat all year, you’ll probably have to give up your permanent house on the land. Because the boating lifestyle does not lend itself well to owning a lot of material goods, you will be giving up much of your possessions. Alternatively, you can store them when you give up your permanent house.

When you decide to make your boat your permanent home, you must consider how you will receive mail and other important items. Remember that a floating home usually lacks a physical address or mailbox. In addition, before you decide to leave up to your land life in favor of the open water, you should research the legal implications of your decision. While living aboard your boat may not appear to be a problem, there are laws that must be followed or you may be fined. Also, while living aboard a boat may seem like a dream come true, you must consider safety concerns before making your decision.

In terms of keeping trespassers at bay and withstand harsh weather, a boat is not as secure as a house. To protect your safety while living on a boat, make sure you have a plan in place to ensure you can deal with severe weather. This will not only protect you, but it will also most likely safeguard your boat, which is now your home.

>>Also Read: All You Need to Know About The Liveaboard Life

Best Liveaboard Marinas in Florida

Liveaboard marinas can be wonderful communities full of nice people. However, finding one that is appropriate for you and your needs requires some searching. Note that liveaboards are not permitted in all marinas. It’s sometimes due to their government authorization prohibiting permanent residents from boarding boats in the marina. This is becoming an increasingly common occurrence across the United States. If you still have a job that requires you to go to an office or factory every day, you’ll need to find a location close to your workplace. On the other hand, if you are actually retired and have the freedom to live wherever you want, your marina options may be more limited.

If you prefer peace and quiet, you should look for a marina in a quiet location. On the other hand, if you prefer parties and a vibrant boating community there are many marinas in Florida that can offer this. Keep in mind that some marinas can be extremely safe to live in. Look for facilities that include security gates at each pier and a nighttime watchman. If you choose to use your boat’s head and shower, the size, and quality of the marina restrooms won’t be that important. However, if you want to keep your holding tank empty and have endless hot water in your showers, look for a marina with a restroom.

Unless you have a very large boat, a marina with a clean, modern laundromat with working machines is what you should look for. Moreover, modern pedestals and finger piers are also options in some Florida marinas. These will include electricity, water, and cable television. You can also enter your boat from the side with a finger pier. If you don’t have one, you’ll have to clamber aboard the bow or stern, depending on which is closest to the main dock. You can consider a lockbox affixed to the dock adjacent to the pedestal a pleasant extra if the marina provides one.

Living on a Boat in Florida - Best Liveaboard Marinas, Costs and Tips - Better Sailing (1)

>>Also Read: Living on a Boat in Texas: What you Need to Know

List of the Best Liveaboard Marinas in Florida

Finding the perfect marina for you will be determined by a number of factors. These are the duration of your liveaboard life, the length and type of boat, the location, and your needs. The location is crucial, just as it is when purchasing a home. Note that the marinas are organized by location first, then by quality. The better the marina, the higher it appears on the list. Of course, it is up to you to choose which marina is ideal for you. For example, if your job is in Miami or if you want a job there, then you should find a marina in Miami.

Keep in mind that it’s much easier to find something in South Florida than it is in the north. When it comes to the north, you’ll quickly find that your alternatives are very limited. In North Central Florida, for example, the Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee is the only marina in the region. The south, on the other hand, has roughly 20 options. But, there is nothing wrong with living in the north; nonetheless, it does not provide as many options as the south.

So, Here’s the List of the Best Liveaboard Marinas in Florida:

North West Florida

  • Bay Point Marina in Panama City Beach
  • Panama City Marina in Panama City

North East Florida

  • Fernandina Harbor Marina in Fernandina Beach
  • Ortega Villa Yacht Club Marina in Jacksonville
  • Mandarin Holiday Marina in Jacksonville

North Central Florida

  • Sea Hag Marina in Steinhatchee

Central Florida

  • Astor Bridge Marina in Astor
  • Green Cove Marina in Green Cove Springs
  • Sanford Boat Works and Marina in Sanford
  • Monroe Harbour Marina in Sanford

Central East Florida

  • Fort Pierce City Marina in Fort Pierce
  • Eau Gallie Yacht Basin in Melbourne
  • Halifax Harbor Marina in Daytona Beach
  • Melbourne Harbor Marina in Melbourne
  • Vero Beach Municipal Marina Vero Beach
  • New Smyrna City Marina in New Smyrna Beach
  • Titusville Municipal Marina in Titusville
  • Harbortown Marina in Fort Pierce
  • Harbortown Marina in Merrit Island

Central West Florida

  • Blind Pass Marina in Saint Pete Beach
  • Harborage Marina in Saint Petersburg
  • Longboat Key Club Moorings in Bradenton
  • Saint Petersburg Municipal Marina in Saint Pete
  • Pasadena Marina in Saint Petersburg
  • Gulfport Municipal Marina in Gulfport
  • Riviera Dunes Marina in Palmetto
  • Twin Dolphin Marina in Bradenton
  • Regatta Pointe Marina in Bradenton

South East Florida

  • Dinner Key Marina in Coconut Grove Miami
  • Hollywood Marina in Hollywood
  • Miami Beach Marina in Miami Beach
  • Harbour Town Marina in Dania
  • Lauderdale Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale
  • Marina Bay Resort in Fort Lauderdale
  • Boot Key Harbour City Marina in Marathon
  • Palm Harbour Marina in West Palm Beach
  • Royale Palm Yacht Basin in Dania Beach

South West Florida

  • Burnt Store Marina in Punta Gorda
  • Marco Island Marina in Marco Island
  • Old Cover Marina in Naples
  • Port of the Islands Marina in Naples
  • Marinatown Yacht Harbour in North Fort Myers
  • Snook Bight Marina in Fort Myers Beach
  • Legacy Harbour Marina in Fort Myers
  • Calusa Island Marina in Goodland

Liveaboard Life in Florida

In Florida, the liveaboard life can be either pleasant or to be avoided. This will depend mostly on your preferences and character. One of the most important aspects of Florida is that it’s quite hot, which is fantastic. Florida is also incredibly humid, so you will probably need a dehumidifier. Note that a large part of Florida is swampland, which, combined with the humid air, creates the ideal environment for mosquitos and other insects. On the other hand, if you live near the city’s coast, you’ll notice that there are significantly fewer insects. Furthermore, depending on where you live in Florida, you might find the party culture to be annoying. For instance, Miami is a wild, party place for wealthy people. If this isn’t an issue for you, that’s fantastic! Perhaps you are young, inebriated, and wealthy.

If, on the other hand, you want to avoid this way of life, then you have to find another area to liveaboard in Florida. If you want to escape this type of nightlife, it’s best to stay in Tampa Bay instead of Miami Beach. Tampa, contrary to popular belief, is a much more laid-back city. The weather is mostly pleasant and there is nothing to be concerned about on a daily basis. However, bugs are annoying, but they aren’t always a major issue. Storms, on the other hand, can be a major issue. Tropical storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, twisters, and cyclones occur often in Florida. For this reason, many people chose to live in safer locations than Florida. So, it’s possible that you’ll have to drop anchor and sail to safer waters.

If everything said above has made you desire to live in Florida even more, then it’s time to decide where you want to live. Choosing a marina is less of a commitment than renting an apartment because leases are typically shorter and more flexible. However, this usually comes with a cost. By signing a longer lease, you will be able to get a much better bargain. As a result, it’s critical to do your best to choose the ideal marina for you the first time. In the long term, it could save you a small fortune.

>>Also Read: Best Sailboats to Live On

Costs of Living Aboard in Florida

Marinas in Florida are not cheap. Florida is a year-round vacation spot and a popular starting point for boaters heading to the Bahamas or the Caribbean. Furthermore, it’s a favorite winter destination for boaters from all over the country who don’t want to deal with winterizing their boats. When looking for a marina, it’s crucial to know how long you want to stay. Your rate will be lower if you can commit for a longer period of time. Many marinas charge a transitory fee on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, with discounts for longer stays. Annual slip holders, on the other hand, benefit from the best rates.

In Florida, monthly slips for a 40-foot sailboat can cost anything from $800 to well over $2,000 per month. You’ll almost certainly pay twice as much in popular vacation cities like Miami Beach or Key West. So do your research, look for private docks to rent, and investigate every marina using satellite pictures. It’s more difficult to get information about marinas that only service long-term residents. A nice place to start is, which has marina listings. Their ads include some basic pricing information as well as information on whether or not liveaboards are permitted.

If done correctly, living aboard can be a cost-effective way of life. If you know your way around your boat, conducting your own maintenance and repairs will save you money. And, note that heating or cooling your boat will be significantly less expensive than doing so in an apartment. Moreover, your boat might not even have an engine in some circumstances. This eliminates one of the most significant costs of owning or managing a boat. Lastly, some people are quite content to stay in the marina and never leave. They call a towboat if they need to move. Houseboats are popular among these people.

Living on a Boat in Florida - Best Liveaboard Marinas, Costs and Tips - Better Sailing (2)

>>Also Read: How Much Does It Cost To Live On a Boat

Things to Keep in Mind before Choosing the Liveaboard Life in Florida

First and foremost, a harsh reality: Florida is one of the least welcoming states for liveaboard boaters. This is because the cost of a slip is high, and just a few marinas allow individuals to live on their boats. When you add in the constant flux of regulations on where liveaboard boaters can stay and anchor, you will feel totally confused.

Note that slips fill up quickly during the hectic winter season. Cruisers are known to plan their winter vacations months in advance. So don’t be surprised if you have to try a few marinas before finding the ideal for your needs. When you factor in the difficulty of finding a location that permits you to live onboard, keep in mind that you will have to do a lot of research beforehand. You should, of course, go to the marina before showing up or making a reservation.

Even the word “liveaboard” might raise a red flag for many dockmasters when asking about slips. Every marina dockmaster dreads the idea of a boat that is no longer seaworthy and is being used as nothing more than a cheap floating hotel. Which is also a recipe for an unattractive and environmentally disastrous situation. These boats have tarnished the term to the point where every marina interaction feels like walking on thin ice. Before agreeing to lease you a slip, more savvy dockmasters may want photos of your boat and confirmation of insurance. Don’t be surprised if you feel as if you’re being interviewed for the position—you are.

It’s almost always easier for a dockmaster to simply say, “No, we don’t allow liveaboards,” than putting out a cohesive and fair plan to allow only “good” liveaboards. Dockmasters aren’t the only ones who impose restrictions on slip holders. Living aboard a boat is prohibited in many Florida communities. Moving around with your boat is a way to prevent all these from happening. Every marina has a favorite type of liveaboard boater: the cruiser. You may sometimes get quarterly dockage rates if you stay for one, two, or even three months at a time, and you are more or less free of the hassles associated with the Florida “liveaboard” cliché.

Bear in mind that in popular anchorages throughout Florida, many communities install mooring fields. The problem of derelict and abandoned vessels at anchor is one element contributing to the trend. Cleaning up the sunk or beached vessels following storms has become a state-wide issue. So, the state can use mooring fields to set legal restrictions on where you can anchor. Moorings are a tempting choice because they save a lot of money over dock space. Some mooring sites offer shuttle services and are highly accommodating to liveaboards. While they like to reserve the majority of the moorings for passing boats, they usually have a more appealing month-to-month cost. And, if you want to anchor, there are still lots of options.

Hurricane Season in Florida

The marina’s location and storm policies are also important factors to consider when looking for a marina. Don’t think you’ll be fine if you leave your boat in the slip. Even if the insurance provider does not demand it, every Floridian should have an emergency plan in place before time. A few marinas have built-in “hurricane holes” where you will be able to leave your boat safely. It should have heavy-duty pilings atop floating docks and be sheltered from all directions from winds and tides. Even still, if a powerful storm makes landfall nearby, there’s a good possibility that it will destroy a lot. This is because the state of Florida is flat, and storms can be severe.

Some marinas with less protection may have an evacuation policy. To put it another way, they’ll inform you that you have to leave your boat at their marina in case of emergency. Keep in mind that this will happen with three days’ warning or less. Preparing a boat for a storm may entail transporting it hundreds of miles or removing it from the sea. So, it’s important to prepare ahead of time and be aware of what you’re going to do in case of a storm or hurricane.

>>Also Read: Living on a Boat in California: What you Need to Know

Living on a Boat in Florida – The Bottom Line

As you can see, liveaboard life in Florida can be amazing if you play your cards right. Hopefully, one of the marinas in Florida will cover your needs. However, it’s difficult to give a definitive answer for the best marina in Florida. Every marina has its own set of regulations and restrictions. In addition, what may be ideal for you may not be ideal for someone else. It all depends on your budget, needs, and on your boat. Of course, you’re in luck if you work from home and have the freedom to live wherever you like.

Keep in mind that some of the marinas in the north are far less expensive and quieter than marinas in South Florida. They provide a much slower pace of living. On the other hand, they don’t provide as many chances for jobs or recreation. On South Beach, there is more to do than in the north. Remember that if water and electricity aren’t included in the lease, you’ll need to receive a quote before deciding on a location to live in. It may appear to be less expensive at first, but once all the other costs are factored in, it becomes significantly more costly.

I hope that this article has helped you find out whether or not you want to liveaboard in Florida. It is totally feasible and it can also be cheap if you choose the right marina and location. I wish you all luck with your research!


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