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Monday, July 16, 2018

How To Save Money in LA: Buy A Boat

Wait, I'm not attempting to write the most obnoxious millennial travel blog post in history (admittedly that'd be an achievement!). This isn't a post about people whose dads buy them boats. Just bear with me and you'll see this idea has legs...(and sea legs, at that!)

The views aren't too bad!

Buying a boat to save cash

The genesis of this oxymoron springs from a conversation I had with a pilot friend at California Yacht Club in Marina Del Ray on July 4th while we were waiting for the fireworks to start. As I munched on a hot dog, sipped a margarita and celebrated my first Independence Day with new friends, she really got me thinking about traditional as well as the abstract concept of what 'home' means. 

I already know that a home is much more than bricks and mortar, and as a travel writer, I'm secure knowing 'home' is a feeling I take with me to wherever I'm sleeping that night, and how I feel when I'm with (or FaceTiming) my friends and family. But what are the essentials (physical and abstract)? For example, I really need to have a good shower. Yes, this could be where I've been spoiled by doing too many hotel views with amazing rain showers, but then again, I found plenty of flats even in Valencia with them). What are your non-negotiables? Are there any more creative solutions for home ownership than the typical options? We've all seen the 'tiny home' concept take off, but what are the alternatives? I love to think outside the box so of course I couldn't resist doing some research on this...

LA Story

As many of you already know, Los Angeles isn't the cheapest city in the world in comparison with many others. Sure, it's more affordable than San Francisco, but certainly not as cheap  as some of the other places I've lived; Valencia in Spain for example (I added the 'in Spain' bit because I met someone on my first day in California from what I'm going to call the 'new' Valencia - a neighbourhood in Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County). 

Pick a room, any room...
As you can see from my Valencia article (link above), renting a room in Valencia costs as little as $350 a month. For that price, you get something quite basic, but tip the budget a tiny bit higher to $460 per month and you'll get a large bedroom with private ensuite bathroom in a two-bedroom luxury apartment, or even a smaller one-bedroom apartment. It'd be located centrally in a bougie neighbourhood full of cupcake bakeries and craft beer bars, such as Ruzafa (yep, that's my old 'hood). And if you're buying in Valencia, an apartment can be yours for as little as $46,000. 

So, yeah...Los Angeles definitely is pricier than Valencia but no surprise there. Most salaries are far lower in Spain than in the US too (which is why most of my friends in Valencia worked online remotely for foreign companies or were digital nomads who ended up extending their stay in the city because it was so much fun). 

That being said, living in many parts of LA still isn't as expensive as living in London. London is my benchmark being as that's where I'm originally from. 

I used to live in a neighbourhood with the same kind of media and music industry types, plus yoga mums with those prams you can jog with, that you get in Santa Monica so it's not too surprising that I feel at home here. It was *the* place my friends in LA told me I should be. 

While we're talking about comparisons, as I recently wrote in an article for Far and Wide, the rent in Los Angeles is comparable with rent on the opposite side of the world, in Male', capital of the Maldives. (For context, the Maldives is an archipelago in South Asia where the average salary is $250 a month, so a lot of Maldivians end up sharing one apartment together).

But let's get back to the point. Rent in Los Angeles starts at roughly $800 a month for something pretty basic in a not particularly great (although not necessarily dodgy) area. If you're bothered about how attractive the room looks and how 'nice' or 'safe' the neighbourhood is, you probably need to pay at least $1,300 and over for a room (most probably in West LA). Again, it depends upon what your essential requirements are. For me, being a female (and a petite one at that), living somewhere safe and well-lit is always my first priority, everything else like the bed and the shower is secondary to that. And then things like being within easy reach of the sea are a huge bonus, but more of a privilege than a necessity...I'm lucky enough to have had a few beachfront apartments over the years.

This is the view from one of my former apartments in Male'

So we're looking at $1,300 plus, and we're still talking about only one room. In a shared house. Maybe with a shared bathroom. Eh. Not so fun when you're in your 30's and used to having your own place. Everyone has their own non-negotiables. Perhaps not sharing a bathroom is one of yours. Because who wants to put on clothes in case you run into anyone in the hallway anyway?!

Well, how about you had your own space to yourself, with its own bathroom, two bedrooms, beautiful views and a nice community? Just one thing; it floats.

The cost

Obviously you need to come up with the initial cost of purchasing your boat to start with, but it's infinitely more affordable than buying a property - you could get a pretty decent one to two cabin boat for around $30,000 to $40,000, or something much swisher for more, obviously. 

You need to take into account the cost of mooring. You could, for example, be looking at $2,371 annually (yes, that's right, per year not per month!), in an open slip for a vessel up to 28 feet long.

A 30ft boat like this costs $29,500

Plus you get access to the yacht club facilities, which, depending on how fancy the yacht club is, can include access to swimming pools, members' bars and tennis courts along with the usual access to a hot showers. (That might actually help to persuade me, being as boat showers usually aren't the greatest, even if you're looking at a very big yacht!)

Obviously there are additional costs like maintenance. And if you actually want to take it anywhere; kerosene! Funnily enough, my friend bought her boat and then learned how to sail it. But then again she's a pilot, so it was easy as pie for her. 

You might not have a huge amount of indoor space, but you wouldn't if you were living in a tiny home either. And you get your very own pad, with the freedom to take it wherever you want to, plus a ready-made community of neighbours wherever you go. There's a very convivial sense of community at the yacht clubs, with people chatting to neighbouring boat owners while they relax in the sun or potter about. There seems to be a lot of pottering going on. But it's pretty nice to dial the pace right down when you're living in a busy city! 

Other benefits: No psycho housemates (hooray), and no lining up to get into the bathroom before work. Yes, there's an initial outlay, but it's considerably less than what you'd have to pay if you wanted to buy even a small studio in LA. And you know what, if money is no object, then why not just treat yourself to a boat anyway! You can't beat being on the water!

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