Buying a Boat

Discover the costs of owning a boat and start saving today

Recreational boating is a great way to have fun and enjoy time with your family and friends. You can learn how to waterski or wakeboard, take up fishing or just enjoy a quiet afternoon on the water. But before you buy a boat, use our guide below to determine what type of boat you want to purchase and the average cost of owning a boat. Then, create a savings goal and open a savings account online to start saving for a boat today.

Understanding the different types of boats and their costs

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association, 95% of boat owners have boats 26-feet-long or less, which cost an average of $18,000. More than 80% of those buyers purchased pre-owned boats. However, the cost of a boat varies based on the model, size, whether it's new or used, and how you want to use it. Below is a list of the most popular boats, what they're best for and the average cost of each style when purchased new.


A houseboat is a great way to gather with family and friends or spend some solitary time on the water. These boats are best used on lakes, rivers, and coastal waters. Plus, they have roomy floor plans and modern conveniences for eating and sleeping that you can customize to your taste. According to MSN Money, new houseboats start around $60,000. However, you could spend more or less, depending on the make, model, age and size.


Sailboats are differentiated by their size, keel, hull, number of sails, and use (recreation, traveling, or racing). According to multiple sailboat listings, on average, a new 15-22 foot sailboat costs about $42,000, while a used model may start around $10,000. Also, at over 25 feet, a sailboat becomes a 'yacht,' and the price goes up significantly. Yacht features may include swim platforms, indoor and outdoor dining rooms, a galley, an owner's suite and more.

Pontoon boat

Pontoon boats can generally accommodate many people - typically up to 12. A no-frills pontoon boat will cost around $11,500. However, the average pontoon boat costs around $20,000, and you should expect to pay around $35,000 for a high-end pontoon boat. Keep in mind that when you add more horsepower, the cost will rise, but you'll be able to use the boat for tubing.

Deck boat

A deck boat is similar to a pontoon boat in design and size, and can also accommodate many people. However, they're often more powerful and can skim over the water, making tubing, waterskiing and wakeboarding a breeze. Like the pontoon, the average cost of a deck boat is $20,000.


Speedboats are used for various purposes, from entertaining friends and family to racing competitively. If you'll use a speedboat for entertaining purposes, consider buying one with a comfortable cockpit, enough seats for your guests, and perhaps a galley or roomy cabin. The cost of a speedboat is determined by its brand, length and construction as well as the horsepower and amenities included. For example, a basic speedboat used in fresh water for waterskiing or wakeboarding costs around $17,000.

Fishing boat

From aluminum hulls to sport-fishing rigs, there are many types of fishing boats on the market, available in a variety of materials. Find out about the different types below, which can also be found on

  • All-purpose fishing boats for fresh water and salt water start at around $20,000. You may want to buy this type of boat if you plan to fish in both fresh water and salt water as they are made to navigate various waterways.
  • Aluminum boats start at around $2,000. These are simpler boats used only in fresh water. They are ideal for navigating shallow waters, coves and inlets.
  • Bass boats (aluminum or fiberglass) for freshwater fishing start at around $2,000. Built to hold two to three anglers, these sleek, tournament-style boats are great for casual angling and buddy tournaments.
  • Sport-fishing boats for saltwater fishing start at around $10,000. If you want to pursue larger fish, like marlin, tuna or swordfish, you may want to buy a sport-fishing boat. They also feature sleeping accommodations, galleys for cooking, and plumbing, which make them great for extended trips. The more amenities you add, the higher the cost of the boat.

Other expenses associated with buying a boat

The cost of buying a boat includes more than just the sticker price. You also need to consider the cost of fuel, maintenance, storage, amenities, sanitation and insurance. Some boat costs will vary based on your location and the type of boat you have, but the boat expenses below should give you a starting point to create a budget.

  • Fuel: To determine what you may spend on fuel, start with the size of your gas tank and consider your different boating activities. Watersports use more gas than cruising, and if you own a sailboat, you may only need gas in case of an emergency.
  • General maintenance: The average annual cost of maintaining a boat is about 10 percent of the ticket price. Maintenance tasks include cleaning the motor, washing and waxing the boat, treating any fabric, replacing worn-out parts, and checking and servicing the engine.
  • Dockage fees: These vary and are either charged per foot (based on size of your boat) or per day. For example, in Nantucket at the Mad Max Marina, the charge is $275 per night. Of course, you could also choose to have a private dock or mooring.
  • Boater's insurance: You will need to insure your boat and may be able to add it to your homeowners' policy. If you boat outside of U.S. waters, you will need international coverage. Ask your insurance agent for more details.
  • Title and registration: Depending on the state you live in, you can pay these fees annually or every two years. Also, you may need to pay taxes on your boat (check with your state government's website). If you're under 18, you will also need to take a one-time course to obtain a license to operate a boat in most states.
  • Winterization and storage: If you live in a colder climate, you'll need to winterize your boat. This includes checking the heating and cooling systems, hauling and dry-docking, shrink-wrapping, and blocking so the boat doesn't move. The average cost to winterize your boat yourself is a few hundred dollars. If you have your boat docked at a marina and want the staff to winterize your boat, you could pay over $1,000, depending on your location.
  • Boater safety equipment: Factor in the cost of life jackets, first-aid kits, fire extinguishers, a distress signal kit, portable generator, GPS system, fish finder and chart plotter, and radio system (two-way and stereo).

Open a savings account online from Citizens Bank and start saving for a boat

From buying a boat to covering annual boat maintenance costs, you need a bank that can be with you every step of the way. Open a savings account online with Citizens Bank to start saving for a boat today. Our competitive rates can help you meet your boat savings goal - maybe even sooner than you'd planned. Set up Steady Save® to connect your savings and checking account with automatic transfers so you can regularly save for the cost of a boat. Plus, with mobile banking, you can check your account balance and transfers and enjoy peace of mind on the water knowing you have funds available for expenses that may arise. No matter what boat costs you encounter along the way, we can help you be prepared.


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