Should you buy or rent a boat?

If you are looking to join the 100 million Americans who go boating every year, you may be wondering if you should rent or buy a boat. With many sizes and types of boats to try out, rental and purchase prices vary widely.

Renting and buying boats have advantages and disadvantages, so you need to decide what is best for you. When thinking about what you want to do, consider your long-term boating goals.

Rent a boat

Are you looking to have fun at sea without any liability? Renting a boat is the way to go. You can enjoy a boat for a day or two without worrying about its daily maintenance. Remember that many rental companies require you to complete a brief training before renting. You can easily find boat rentals of all kinds using sites like GetMyBoat or Boatsetter.

There are many types of boats, from small fishing boats to yachts and catamarans, so rental prices vary widely. You can expect to pay at least $200 a day for a boat rental, but some rentals cost several thousand dollars a day. If you only want to use the boat for a few hours, you may be able to find day boat rentals for a little cheaper.


Renting a boat has some key advantages. You can expect to reap these benefits if you decide to rent:

  • Try different types of boats. When you rent, you are not committing to a specific boat or even a specific type of boat. You can rent a speedboat one day and test drive a pontoon another.
  • Use the boat as much or as little as you want. You don’t have to take the boat out a certain amount to make it worthwhile. Go out for a few hours to try boating. If you like it, you can always rent the boat again.
  • Never worry about care and maintenance. Arguably the best part of renting is that you don’t have to fix anything or figure out where to store the boat.


You might miss some things if you rent a boat instead of buying one. Consider these disadvantages of renting:

  • It gets more expensive over time. Renting a boat once is certainly cheaper than buying one, but if you plan to rent a boat multiple times, the costs can quickly add up. Buying a boat may be the most cost-effective option if you plan to sail avidly.
  • The boat may not be in perfect condition. Whether you rent through a boat rental company or a peer-to-peer rental service, you have no control over the condition of the boat. Be sure to read the reviews of any company you are considering renting a boat from.
  • You have less freedom. Each rental company limits where you can go or what you can do in the boat. You will not be able to do what you want while renting a boat.

For whom renting is best

Planning to use a boat minimally or just want to try boating? Renting a boat offers the best option. It’s a big expense to buy a boat, so if you don’t plan on using it often, it’s cheaper to rent it. If you’re considering buying a boat but aren’t sure, renting can be a great way to familiarize yourself with different types of boats and decide if you like the boating lifestyle.

Buy a boat

There are advantages to buying a boat – you always have a fun place to relax on the water and you can take it out whenever you want. But when you become the owner of a boat, you are also responsible for the maintenance of the boat, which takes time and more money.

Boats are also expensive to buy in the first place. The price largely depends on the type of boat you are buying and whether you are buying it new or used. You can expect to pay at least $10,000 when buying a boat, which is fair for a small used motorboat. If you want to buy a new boat, the average price is between $40,000 and $60,000.


The responsibility of owning a boat has certain advantages. If you decide to buy a boat, you can take advantage of these things:

  • You can use it whenever you want: When you own a boat, you don’t have to plan around a rental company’s schedule to get it out. You can use it whenever you want.
  • Customize your boat to your liking. The name, painting and decoration of the boat are in your hands.
  • Maintain the boat to your standards. You manage the maintenance of the boat and can easily track the maintenance, so you don’t have to wonder about its condition.


Owning a boat is not all fun and games. It might not be a good idea if these cons outweigh the pros for you:

  • Boats are a money pit. Some boat owners joke that “boat” means bust another thousand. All kidding aside, the boats are expensive. Owners must also constantly pay for gas, maintenance and storage of their boat.
  • You may feel guilty when you don’t use it enough. The average boater only uses their boat about 8% of the time. Thus, 92% of the time, a boat remains inactive. When you spend so much money on it, you can start to feel bad when you feel like you’re not using it enough.
  • They lose value over time. When you buy a home, your investment often increases in value over time. However, boats generally lose value over time.

For whom buying is best for

It is important that boat owners really enjoy their boat. Otherwise, they might regret becoming boat owners. If you understand all the costs of owning a boat and still think it sounds like fun, owning a boat might be right for you.

finance a boat

You have decided to buy a boat, but where will you find the money? If you want to buy a boat, but don’t have all the money to buy one, you may be able to get a personal loan. Talk to a local bank or online lender to find out about their boat loan options. Determine if you want a secured or unsecured loan for your boat. You can use a boat loan calculator to determine how long it will take to pay off different boat loans.

At the end of the line

Spending a day in a boat on the water sounds like a lot of fun. But don’t get so wrapped up in the pretty picture of it all that you make an irresponsible decision. Weigh the pros and cons of owning a boat versus buying a boat before deciding how you’ll get out on the water.

Once you’ve decided how you enjoy a boat, make a plan. Determine how much money you need to budget. Then you can decide if you need to look into financing options.

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