Van Life or Boat Life- The Great Debate

Want to live an Instagram worthy life, but can’t decide what is best for you? Maybe you saw how cool those tiny home trailers looked, but got scared away by zoning concerns. Or, maybe you saw a tricked out school bus, but then choked on your Kool-Aid when you saw the price tag. Perhaps you live by a body of water and saw an ad on Craigslist for a cheap boat and thought,

Should I live in a van, or buy a boat instead?

Since I have lived both #vanlife and #boatlife in the past five years, I am going to answer, without a doubt…

Just buy the van!

Run, don’t walk, away from anyone who is trying to sell you a boat. I don’t care how nice the boat is or what kind of dreams you have for it.

Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Here are a few reasons why #VanLife is better than #BoatLife

van life or boat life
She’s a hot mess, but she was MY hot mess

1. Boats Move- Constantly

I know you’re reading this and thinking, no shit Sherlock, but just think of the stuff you need to do during the day. All web surfing, reading, cooking, mascara applying, pooping, drinking…all those things happen while you are moving around against your will. Sure, in the wintertime it’s not all that bad if you live in a secluded area away from the wind, but in the summer there will constantly be other boats creating wake, and basically ruining your life.

Once you live on a boat, there is no escape. At least if you’re on holiday, you know that there will be an end to all the rocking.

Vans on the other hand only move when you want them to. Besides the obvious slight movement when you roll over in the middle of the night, your van is pretty stable.

There is no worse feeling on this planet than being hung over on a boat.

should i buy a boat
Hangovers in your 30’s are tough enough on their own. Don’t add boat living into the mix

2. Everything Will Be Wet and Moldy

Here’s something I bet you didn’t know, boats aren’t watertight and that’s just something you have to deal with.

From the bilge pump to leaks in every room when it rains, water will get inside. And with water comes mold if you aren’t on top of that stuff 24/7. Even with our expensive dehumidifier we still had to deal with everything getting wet and scary.

To be fair, our boat was a bit of a special circumstance. It was an old wooden boat from 1962, so we did deal with a fair share more moisture than your average boater.

I’ll tell you this though, there’s nothing fun about having to throw away your mattress and all of your pillows at 7 pm on a Tuesday because you realize you are sleeping on a queen-sized sheet of mildew.

living on a boat
The views however, can be pretty amazing


3. All The Things That Can Go Wrong, Will

After I got into boat life, I finally heard the acronym for boat.

Bring Out Another Thousand

Due to the nature of wood expanding and contracting, we got a ton of moisture in our electrical work. Now, I’m pretty handy after wiring vans for years, but dealing with corroded wires in a wet death trap was above my pay grade. We constantly had to call in professionals to help when the going got tough.

Unfortunately, not a lot of people want to take that kind of work on. Finding qualified people to do repairs, often ends up being a huge process that costs more than it should because boat mechanics are few and far between.

In comparison, our van has been pretty great to us. We had a fuel pump fail, but pretty much everything else has stood the test of time. And what didn’t was easily fixable from literally any shop that works on cars.

Think about it this way, if your van battery runs out of juice, it won’t start. If your boat battery runs out of juice, your bilge pump won’t operate AND YOU WILL SINK.

should I buy a boat to live on
Sometimes you have sun rises complete with rainbows

4. Boat People Can Get Weird

This last one is a tough thing to admit, but a lot of boat owners are surly and difficult to deal with. I have never in my life encountered such a strange group of people.

Since we were new to boats, we spent most of our time in a marina. What better way to learn about boats than to be around boats and boat people! What a sweet summer child I was.

What I found was that most boat people seem to be hostile to newcomers. Even the ones we did end up “friends” with, were borderline crazy.

Now when I say “boat people” I don’t mean like your Uncle Frank who owns a boat, I mean the kind of people that LIVE on boats full time. They do not like outsiders, and they do not like people that don’t know what they’re doing.

Every time I tried to strike up a conversation with our neighbor about the best way to winterize, I felt like I was being abused by Master Pai Mei from Kill Bill.

With perseverance and lots of Tequila, we were able to win most of them over, but why did it have to be that difficult?

Van people seem to welcome you with open arms, no questions asked. Sure, Tequila is still appreciated, but it’s not a prerequisite to a friendship.

Stealth Van Life is the Best

Since I love #VanLife so much, you might be wondering why I bought a boat in the first place.

I did it because of Cap’n Ron. That’s right, the zany comedy starring Martin Short and Kurt Russel. If you’ve never seen it, it’s about a rich family from Chicago that inherits a gross old boat. They decide to sail it to Miami where an auction company will take it and sell it, but in the process, they have their boat stolen by some homicidal Cubans and learn to love each other again.

There is a moment at the very end of the movie where they are pulling into the marina in Miami where the guy from the auction house is meeting them. They have just had this massive adventure on this boat and everyone is really bummed about going back to Chicago.

The mother says to the family “The way I see it, we have two options. One, we can sell this boat right now and go back to Chicago, or two…we don’t!” Everyone smiles, they turn the boat around and are never seen again.

That very moment in that movie is what made me the nomad I am today, and it’s also why, when the opportunity to purchase a boat fell into my lap, I jumped on it immediately.

It was a worthwhile life experience that, at times, was very beautiful and rewarding.

And I am so glad it’s over.

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