Most people would agree that living on a boat is pretty low impact, environment-wise. I would argue that living on a boat is not just cleaner but also a higher quality experience than a land based existence.
Land life never seemed quite right to me. I was raised in a nice home and have lived in nice apartments. All that extra space seemed wasted. So I did as my fellow sheep had done and filled the empty spaces with stuff the TV told me I needed. It did make me feel better.
Just out of high school, a friend and I bought a 23' boat with a cuddy cabin to use on the weekends. I remember being envious of the people we met on the dock who lived on their boats. It seemed like a less encumbered way to be. I started to camp out on our boat. I learned that I liked it. Five boats and tens of thousands of ocean miles later … I still like it. After a long trip moving other people's boats, I still enjoy returning to our little home on the water.
For some, the transition from land to sea is not an easy one. They struggle to let go of their junk. They first rent a garage sized storage unit. Over the years they scale down to a 5x5 – oh, that was me. Others find that their stuff was their identity. Ponderous questions plague them, “Will my friends still like me when I don't have more pairs of shoes then them?” If not, I say, they're not very good friends.
The simplicity of life aboard is a highlight for me. I go shopping with my land-locked friends who have homes and families and outsized vehicles. We look at recliners and giant TV's and I'm as excited as they are. Doubly so, because I don't have to figure out how I'm going to pay for any of it. None of that crap would fit on the boat. When I want my hi-def TV to be bigger I just move the laptop a little closer – voila. Anchored out, the girlfriend and I can sit in the cockpit, chillin' in our recliner, er, beanbag, and bring the entertainment system out with us. Same show, just more flexible and efficient.
Mix some spare time with idle hands and see what you get. At one point, the boat and I found ourselves living on savings, tied up to a place where the beer was expensive. That's when I learned how to brew beer onboard. Hallelujah! How was it? Two words: Awe some. More recently, the girlfriend started a mini farm on the boat. I'm not sure what she's going to do when that avacado plant becomes a tree.
Living in a water front community means, that at least along the shore, the land is pretty flat. And that makes it good for bike riding. Weeks go by that I don't visit my poor car. Our bikes have baskets and we shop, run errands, and get places on the bikes. The fact that we're also getting some light exercise is simply a bonus.
We both travel for a living. Since everyone wants those kinds of jobs, they don't always pay well. A lower income works out fine for us. We live on a boat so we have a fraction of the expenses of our friends. We're surrounded by million dollar homes with landscapers and security systems and owners with 60 hour work weeks. Same as our large homed neighbors, we have a two minute bike ride over to the beach. The difference is that you can find us there, playing volleyball and soakin' up rays, at noon on a Tuesday.
Bored with where you're living? No need to bother with boxes and a moving van. Just untie, scoot off and tie up somewhere's else. Home is where your boat is. We're fortunate to have internet onboard. Fortunate, I say, because I can do all of my non-travel work from home. The marina has wifi but we can also get good fast service through the cell phone now. With our loose schedules and the mobile internet, we can take off mid week and cruise our home over to the island without losing touch with our income generators. They do keep a desk for me at the office, 10 minutes by bike, but I don't make the commute very often.
A guy moved onto our dock about a year ago. He had the high pressure job, the tall expensive blonde girlfriend and probably a big shiny car though I don't get out to the parking lot much. He also had the workin-fo-da-man frown. Well, things didn't get better for him right away. The girlfriend quickly figured out that she couldn't live in the confines of a boat and departed unceremoniously. Next to go was the high pressure part of the job. Without land life expenses he learned he could live with less income. They transferred him to a position where he could work less and work from “home”. And that's when he lost the frown. You should see him now, a year later, walking on the docks with a big smile on his face. He'll tell anyone who'll listen about how he used to wear a suit everyday and, “Have a look. I'm in sweats and a T-shirt!” We know, we've known for years.
A vast portion of society has decided that quantity is everything – bigger house, bigger car, bigger kids ;). As live-aboards we are part of a great experiment. We have made a conscious decision to live as if Quality counts more than quantity. Good for you and good for Us.
Quality, Balance and a Clean Wake