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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Boat. Blog Feature

By: America's Credit Union on August 21st, 2023

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5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Buying a Boat.

Personal Finance

Approximately 100 million Americans spend time on the water and recreational boating increased by 35 percent since 2018. Buying a boat ranks high on people’s lifestyle lists, as more than 260,000 were purchased last year alone. But some families still have financial and other reservations about Buying a boat. In order to make an informed decision about owning a watercraft of your own, consider the following.  


Buying a Boat is a Big Investment: Are You Prepared?

Although the average cost of a boat hovers around $42,000, prices vary widely. Used boats can be acquired for under $10,000 and large, top-tier models can run into the millions. It may come as something of a surprise, but these statistics support the fact that an increased number of average households are buying boats for recreational activities.

•    Nearly 12 percent of households own at least one boat.
•    Millennials comprise more than 31 percent of all boaters.
•    Approximately 95 percent of recreational watercraft are under 26 feet long.
•    More than 60 percent of boat owners have household incomes under $100,000.

First-time buyers account for 31 percent of annual sales and 35 percent of all pre-owned boats. Those statistics seem to indicate a great many community members are diving into Buying a boat. But before shopping for the right size and style, it’s essential to think through a few questions.

Questions to Ask Before Buying a Boat

Because Buying a boat can involve a significant investment, it’s important to make reasonably sure it's right for you. To put that idea in context, think about all the fifth wheels, RVs, and motorhomes parked in front yards with for sale signs. How many owners bought the recreational vehicle impulsively, believing they would explore America’s parks, beaches, and picturesque landscapes? Rather than hastily put down a deposit and make monthly installments on a boat loan, consider the following.


1. What Will I Use the Boat For?

What you plan to use your new or pre-owned watercraft for can be a driving force behind the purchase.  The top reason people own boats is to get away from hectic life and relax. Having a watercraft allows people to get outside cell phone range and engage in a rewarding leisure activity. Fishing continues to rank among the most prevalent uses of boats. As they say, a bad day of fishing is better than a good day at work.

The point of considering what you will use the boat for trails back to return on investment. Will you get out on the water often enough to make the purchase worthwhile, or will it end up in your front yard with a for sale sign?

2. What is My Budget?

It’s typically not difficult to fit Buying a boat into a monthly budget. Consider reviewing your monthly finances to determine how much you can comfortably afford by using a boat loan calculator. Then add approximately 10 percent to cover the cost of ordinary repairs, upkeep, and mooring fees. Change up the numbers regarding down payment, repayment period, and other factors to zero-in on how much boat you can afford.


3. Where Will I Use the Boat?

Location plays an important role in Buying a boat because it determines whether you’ll need winter storage or incur other expenses. For example, the decision to join a yacht club or dock the boat at a local slip involves paying a few monthly fees. By that same token, you may gain some nice perks and a sense of boater's camaraderie. If you decide to keep the craft at home and haul it to area boat ramps, you’ll likely need to register a trailer. Where you use the boat may also influence how often you find yourself relaxing on the water.

4. How Much Time Can I Devote to Maintenance and Upkeep? 

Properly maintaining a boat does not necessarily require a significant time investment. It does, however, call for consistency. Before taking a craft out on the water, owners and operators follow a boat checklist to ensure that safety and critical elements function. These include fluids, batteries, cables, fuel lines, propellers, electronics, and the condition of the hull, among others. After returning from an excursion, most vessels need a good hosing down or scrubbing. It’s also important to set aside time for regular maintenance every 100 hours of use or at least once annually..  

5. Am I Comfortable with Boating Safety and Regulations?

Before operating a boat, you will need to learn basic boating safety as well as state and federal regulations. Most states ensure everyone knows how to safely negotiate open water by requiring operators to get a boating safety card. There are online safety courses available to help educate first-time boat owners.
If you’ve answered these questions for yourself and feel passionate about Buying a boat, it may be the right quality-of-life investment for you.



Make Buying a Boat a Breeze with America’s Credit Union

Once you have decided to take the plunge and start the process of buying a boat, let America’s Credit Union help you finance your new boat! With competitive rates and fast loan approvals, America’s Credit Union can help you start enjoying the water in no time. If you have any questions please contact us today!

For more useful information for anyone buying a boat  as well as the real cost of ownership  make sure to check out our, "Boat Ownership Costs Checklist"


Membership in America’s Credit Union is open to anyone who lives or works in Dallas, Rockwall or Collin Counties, Texas, and their family members. Employees of select employers may also be eligible. See our Membership page for details.

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