Nancy adds to the general level of hand-wringing with this: "Its not like buying a house because you don't have that added dimension of the location making the decision. I can't imagine the buyers remorse on a boat and --- what if you see the best one ever the week after you close? Can you switch? I'm nervous"
The process for deciding to move to Norfolk had the same level of trauma -- at first. We'd looked at Baltimore and didn't like the attitude. In the Northern Chesapeake (or maybe near a big city) they didn't like our kind of folks. Vagabonds were not welcome; we might bring down property values and raise operating costs at the marina.
Where to go? What to do? What if we made a bad decision? What if we moved to the "wrong" city?
While looking at Norfolk, we had an epiphany.
The Real Rules.
We knew that there are three essential rules for selecting the right real estate. 1. Location, 2. Location. 3. Location.
Those rules of buying land colored our thinking for a long time.
Slowly we came to realize that everything is temporary. An apartment in Norfolk is just a one-year commitment. If we chose the wrong neighborhood, we box things up, rent a U-Haul and move somewhere else. If we chose the wrong city or the wrong coast, we can -- with little additional stress -- move to someplace different (and perhaps better.)
With no kids in school, and no reason to work in a particular location, a fixed, settled location isn't advantageous for us. Location doesn't matter. Further, the decision is truly temporary.
Rule 1. Boats Never Appreciate in Value. Plan on taking a loss. Budget accordingly. Embrace the prospect of poverty. As with gambling: never risk more than you can afford to lose. Be realistic about the prospect of a complete loss.
Rule 2. Boats Move. The three rules of real estate don't apply and can't be allowed to color your thinking. A boat is a tiny apartment with a great view. And the view can change.
Rule 3. Many Designs Are Stable Enough. There are dozens of boat designs that are considered "blue water capable". In the big picture, almost any boat is acceptable. Indeed, the really scary-fast boats like the Open 60 (see the Vendée Globe Site) are said to be nice handling boats. Not very roomy, but sweet.
Some folks content that any well-made boat can cross an ocean.
Since many boat designs are good, what's the decision-point? The real question is one of details: Construction and Maintenance. Is it a well-made boat?
The question of construction and maintenance is answered -- in part -- by engaging a professional, competent marine surveyor.
Another part of that survey is to detail the remediation required. The budget and schedule for fixing, repairing, replacing and refurbishing. The rule of thumb is that 2/3 of your money is purchase and 1/3 is repairs and rework. Budget accordingly.
Finally, there is a question of risk. What are the odds that the "soft spot" on the foredeck is actually an extensive area of rotten core material requiring major deck work? What are the odds that a patch of rust on the keel conceals an structure that's not properly attached to the hull?
I think that engaging a professional, creating a repair list, and using the "buy + fix" budget is an important way to stave off buyers's remorse. I think another part is knowing that most boats are pretty good -- that's way there are so many successful designs. And finally, I think it's important for us to embrace poverty as a consequence of our life-style choices.