Finding the right boat

Questions to ask before buying a boat

Boat shopping is very similar to car shopping. Just as there are hundreds and hundreds of different car types, there is a wide variety of different boats on the market. Before you head to the next boat show to buy a boat, here are few things to consider. Take a few moments and answer the following questions honestly:

  • What are your family’s interests? Do you want to fish? Water-ski? Go cruising?
  • Are you planning to use your boat in salt water or freshwater?
  • Do you want a boat that you can trailer and move from place to place? Or do you want a larger boat that has one homeport?
  • Where will you keep your boat? Do you have room to park your trailered boat at home? Or will you keep it at a storage facility or a marina?
  • Does your boating experience match the boat you are looking to buy?

Answering these questions will help you narrow down the type of boat that will best fit your needs. The Boat Selector on is a great tool that can provide a side by side boat comparison to help you find exactly what you need.

Should you buy a new or used boat?

The decision to buy a new or used boat will depend on each person and each situation. While there are pros and cons for each, the goal is to decide whether new or used will be right for you. Here are some things to consider:


Some new boats come with warranties, which can help give you the peace of mind that certain parts of the boat can be fixed at the cost of the manufacturer. As you may expect, this is often not the case for a used boat, as the costs of repairs would be your responsibility. The best way to learn about the condition of a used boat and any potential problems that may arise is to have the boat surveyed. The Society of Accredited Marine Surveyors (S.A.M.S.) and the National Association of Marine Surveyors (N.A.M.S.) are two accredited organizations that can help give you accurate information about the boat you are looking to purchase. They will inspect the engine(s), hull, electronics and all mechanical equipment, interior, safety equipment, bilge, sea trials, engine lab analysis, valuations, recommendations and provide a detailed report with pictures.


New boats depreciate much quicker than used boats. In fact, boats depreciate the most within the first year of use. Used boats that are kept in good condition have a relatively low depreciation rate.


If you are planning to take out a loan, the interest rates and down payments tend to be the same whether you are buying a new or used boat. Some banks may require you to have a survey done on your boat before they offer you any financing option. Keep this in mind when setting up your boat budget.

Staying within budget

Boating is meant to be relaxing and enjoyable. Setting a budget and staying within your budget is a good way to help reduce some of the financial stress that boat ownership entails. The price tag on the boat is a relatively easy cost to account for. You will also want to keep in mind any registration fees, sales tax, insurance costs and storage fees that may follow. This doesn’t include the cost to maintain your boat, which can vary greatly. Depending on how you plan to use the boat, the boat’s age and the hull material, the regular maintenance cost can be up to 10% of the boat’s value.


While the opportunities a boat can bring are endless, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the number of options and considerations to think about before signing a check. The key to finding a boat that is right for you is to be patient. Be patient, honest and ask a lot of questions. The more you know about your expectations and the boat’s capabilities beforehand, the better your boating experience will be.

This article is intended for general informational purposes only regarding non-insurance matters and is not designed to provide professional advice.
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