12 Best liveaboard Sailboats To Live on | What’s Best For You?

Are you considering buying a live-aboard boat? If so, there are many options to choose from. Obviously everyone’s choice is unique, so “the best live-aboard sailboat” is a subjective topic. Therefore we have come up with a list of 12 best live-aboard sailboats that will serve everyone’s needs. Whether you are looking for a smaller vessel, a 20 feet, because you are a solo sailor or you want an all-out house on water, there is a vessel for you in to consider . 

But first, you will have to decide what your budget, needs and desires are. Once you have that clearly identified, you can then go on to see what are the best vessels for you according to your personal requirements.

Here are our top 12 best live aboard sailboats:

  1. Nor’Sea 27
  2. Catalina 30
  3. Contessa 32
  4. Nordic 40
  5. Etap 37s
  6. Hunter 33
  7. Cal 34
  8. Islander 36
  9. Flicka
  10. Leopard 45 Catamaran
  11. Beneteau Oceanis 57
  12. Peterson 44

When choosing a sail aboard vessel, it is crucial to consider the following 11 elements that distinguish a great boat from the rest. These are:   

  • The size of the boat 
  • The condition and seaworthiness of the vessel
  • Standing headroom in the cabin
  • Having a good size Water tank
  • Having a good size fuel tank
  • Does the boat have a Water maker
  • A fully functioning Galley (kitchen)
  • Heating and ventilation 
  • Shower and Toilet
  • Power Availability
  • Seating Area

Sailboats are among the best liveaboard vessels on the water, there are some other types of boats that one can live in such as recreational boats, luxury yachts, trawlers, Sport fishing boats, houseboats etc., to name a few, but we are more interested in liveaboard sailboats which has many advantages over the other types.

So far we shared with you our top 12 best liveaboard sailboats and what makes a sailboat the best vessel to live on. In the following sections we will cover each sailboat in much more detail and explaining everything you need know to make an educated decision. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll feel confident enough to choose your dream sailboat to live in.

Things To Consider Before Living Aboard A Sailboat

Sailboats vary a lot from size, design and amenities to the comfort level they come with. Deciding which one is best for you depends on the overall purpose and requirement and the level of comfort you require while living aboard. 

For instance, some sailors find themselves okay living aboard on a sailboat that has no shower or a fully functioning galley. While for others it is important to have an electric toilet, a fully functioning galley and practical salon with some type of entertainment system installed. 

Additionally, you need to identify the purpose of the vessel, will your sailboat serve as an off offshore accommodation or an inshore accommodation. 

Offshore vessels generally don’t come with unnecessary furniture just to increase storage space on the boat. Also these boats have different sleeping layouts to provide for easy access and to ensure that the crew can stay in control of the boat at all times. 

Inshore sailboats on the other hand are geared towards luxurious interior design and high comfort level. Generally, inshore vessels stay within 2 miles from the shore therefore, they will have less storage space to allow for other luxurious amenities to exist.

In any case it is imperative to know what purpose will your sailboat serve and what amenities do you require before you can make an educated decision. 

What Makes A Liveaboard Sailboat The Best One?

Here are a list of characteristics of the sailboats that we believe make a liveaboard sailboat a great one: 

The size of the boat 

When it comes to living aboard, the size does matter, so depending on how many people are going to be sailing and living with you, generally bigger sailing boats offer are more comfortable. We will discuss this topic in the sections to come in great detail.

The condition and seaworthiness of the vessel

Is the boat you are about to live on in a good condition. When you buy a new sailboat for this purpose then it is a must that you hire a professional surveyor to assess the condition and the seaworthiness of the vessel before you make any down payment. Yes, it will cost you a bit, but that fee will save you a lot of money and headache.

Standing Headroom

The next feature is standing headroom. It is imperative to be able to stand upright properly without needing to crawl or bend yourself to move from one part of the boat to another. A good boat should offer at least between 5 feet 11” or 6 feet tall headroom. This element is important to consider for the health of your back and neck in the long run.  

Bigger Water Storage Tank

This is a crucial element that many older boats miss out on it. On average sailboats come with only 60 gallon tank capacity. If you make long passages then at least you should have a double of that aboard, meaning 120 gallons depending how far your destination is, you would be much safer to have 180 gallons if you are in a seaway for an extended period of time.

The last thing we don’t want to happen to you is that you run out of drink water while days away from the
closest civilisation. Therefore, we recommend you to have approximately 140 gallons of water aboard
during mid to long range trips or ocean crossing depending on how many people live aboard. Although, 40 gallons water storage tank is standard in the industry, you can increase this by having a few 5 gallon water container (also known as jerry cans). We have used these tanks in the past they are amazing.
Click here to check these out on Amazon.

Bigger Fuel tanks

Like the water tank it is very important to have bigger fuel tanks if you plan to sail and explore the world. To give you an idea, for a 44 feet vessel a great fuel tank size will be in the range between 100 -120 gallons and on the contrary, a 30 gallons fuel tank is considered small for the same size boat. A 55 gallons Fuel tank for a 34 feet boat is classified as adequate, while a 25 gallon is considered a small fuel tank.

Although, if the boat you are considering to buy ticks all the other box except for this one, then you know that you can buy a few portable fuel tanks to resolve this issue. The best ones that I have found on Amazon will cost you around $85 for 12 gallon container. Click here to check for availability.

Does the boat have a water maker

A water maker is a live support equipment and a great amenity to have on your liveaboard sailboat that you can’t do without one. This is not a so important if you have super large storage tanks to store the water for you. Or you are located in the Caribbean where water is readily available everywhere. Other than that having a water maker means that you don’t have to worry about running out of water in the middle of the ocean, for this reason a water maker could be a life saver in some instances.

The water maker, like any other systems on the boat, needs some level of maintenance from time to time, but the quality of water that you get from a decent water maker out weighs the associated maintenance and costs.

A fully functioning Galley (kitchen)

In order to make life easier aboard this option is a must on our list, while sailboats’ galleys vary from only being able to prepare light meals to a fully equipped kitchen, but a great sailboat should at least have a fridge, cooking stove and a sink. Having a small oven is a luxury but not a necessity. 

Heating and ventilation

Even in the warmer locations, it can get really cold in the nights during winter months. So, if a boat comes with a heater, be it electric or diesel, is a great advantage. I have written a very useful article on how to heat your sailboat during winter months. Click here to read it.

Likewise, proper ventilation is crucial when living aboard a sailboat for an extended period of time. This is because mold and mildew grow in places that are dump and poorly ventilated. We know now that mold is very toxic to humans and animals.  

With proper ventilation we mean a roof vent, a porthole or window that allows sufficient air flow, also good insulation help against condensation and dump.  

Shower and Toilet

Having a shower and a fully functioning toilet that is adequately supplied with water is one of the necessities on our list. It is vital to have a clean boat to prevent spread of diseases due to poor sanitation.

A good sailboat should have a well built-in toilet with safe waste storage tank. 

Power Availability 

A great vessel offers 120V AC outlets, some less great sailboats might offer only a 12V outlet, but if you live aboard all year round, you will need electricity to have your cell phones, laptops, batteries charged. 

Seating Area

A great boat should come with good size seating area other than beds or banks. It is important to have seating area for everyone to set while eating, working or just chilling out.

What is the best size sailboat to live on?  

Liveaboard Monohulled Sailboats

The answer is very subjective and depends on a few factors: your budget, family size, the level of comfort and convenience you wish to have while living aboard. 

The smallest sailboat a single person can live in with very basic amenities is about 19 feet. A 23 – 26-feet vessel will offer a much decent living space but If you want comfort, 30 feet and longer will offer a great living abroad experience, as they come with dedicated washing, cooking and living spaces.  

For couples the 37 – 44 feet range will offer a comfortable living aboard space. While families with kids and pets, probably 45-50 feet range will be the most comfortable. 

We have researched best size sailboat to live in, here is a summary of our findings:

Number of PeopleBasicDecentComfortable
Single 19 ft23 ft – 30 ft30ft and Above
Couple30 ft31 ft – 37 ft37 ft and Above
Couple & Kids upto 537 ft37 ft – 44 ft45 ft and Above
5+45 ft46 ft – 54 ft55 ft and Above
Mono-hull Sailboat

Liveaboard Catamaran Sailboats

Catamarans on the other hand will offer you the most space and comfort. Catamarans have two hulls and a salon attaching the two hulls together, allowing for more space. In addition to that they tend to be more stable and go much faster than a monohulled sailboat, due to their physical structure and size and number of sails. These vessels are well known for their safety, pleasant and smooth sailing characteristics. However they are much more expensive then monohulled sailboats.

These vessels offer a comfortable liveaboard experience. Our findings show that living aboard a 30-feet catamaran offers a comfortable and good enough space for a couple and a 1 child or a pet. 

A 35-feet catamaran will accommodate at least 4 people (4 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids) comfortably. Here is a summary of our findings:

Number of PeopleCatamaran size
A small family (including a child)30 feet
4 people (4 adults or 2 adults and 2 kids)35 feet
4 to 6 people40 feet
6+ people44 feet & Above

Is living on a sailboat worth it? Pros & Cons

In this section we will discuss some of the pros and cons of living aboard a sailboat and will leave the judgement to you to judge whether it is worth it or not.

What are the advantages of living aboard a sailboat?

There are a few advantages that come with living aboard. We will discuss them one by one below:

Freedom and Relaxed lifestyle

Living aboard a sailboat may provide you the freedom and comfort that will not be possible anywhere else. Just as RVs on land offer great freedom while traveling from one place to another on land, living aboard allows you to take your entire household to a different geographic location whenever you choose to do so. 

This lifestyle comes with freedom and nearly limitless opportunities for exploration. Likewise, living aboard means living a life away from the fast paced life of the modern era, a way from many stressors to living a truly laid back and relaxed lifestyle. 

Safety and sense of community

For many of us living in a safe environment is absolutely a must, that is exactly what marinas offer you. Marinas are regarded as very safe places as they have the most advanced security gates, CCTV cameras and professional security guards present on the marine who keep watch 24/7. 

In addition to that, marinas are one of the best places to socialise as well. You will come across many like minded and well-travelled people who can share their knowledge and sailing expertise with you and vice versa.

Scaping the cold months and saving money

Also living aboard allows you to travel to the southern part of the country (or world) in the colder months of the year, where it is much warmer in the south than in the northern hemisphere. This lifestyle is really something unique and cool to be able to live where-ever and when-ever you want. 

Cost of living aboard a sailboat in majority of the cases is far less than living a life in a typical house or apartment. If you live fully all year round on a sailboat and you don’t have any residential rent or mortgage costs to pay, you can live very cheap and even save money. Of course you have to rent a slot in your desired marina, but usually it is much cheaper than renting a house or paying for your monthly mortgage payment in that same area. 

It goes without saying that if you live aboard only a few months in a year that you will have higher costs, as you still have to pay for a marina slot as well as your house expenses. 

What are some disadvantages of living aboard a sailboat?

So far we mentioned some of the pros why living aboard a sailboat could be desirable for many. While what we have mentioned above is true, there are some cons that come with this lifestyle, I will mention a few below:

Lack of space

From my experience, what I miss when I am sailing for days on end, is the lack of space. I mean by that no room for yourself or for your belongings. Even the largest catamarans will not be able to offer you the same amount of space as the typical house does, so anything less than that will be even more tighter living. 

Some sailors who live aboard all-year round find it easier to rent a storage locker, additionally choosing this lifestyle will mean that you will have to get used to taking your wash to the laundry and get used to having a small refrigerator and small storage spaces. It is crucial that you know your crew well or people who will live with you. While living aboard with someone is a great way to bond with each other, it can also be challenging at times, especially due to lack of privacy and personal space.

Bad Weather

Although sailors have the choice to sail to warmer locations during the winter month, which many do, they cannot escape from the storms, floods, hurricanes and even worse of them all the tsunamis. Because severe weather conditions could be seriously life threatening living aboard, it is imperative that you evacuate the sailboat if you are docked at the marina at times of severe weather conditions. But if you are out on the sea then you can do a lot to stay safe. I wrote a useful article on this topic. Click here to check it out.

Unwanted Visitors

One of reasons why most sailors choose to live aboard is that they want to be closer to nature, that is definitely true when it comes to wildlife. While docked on the marina or out on the water, you will have some unwanted visitors such as ants, spiders, insects, lizards and cockroaches to mice, rats and cats, foxes and raccoons. Seals and otters love to sun bathe on the deck and enjoy last night’s leftovers as well. If you are safe from seals and otters you will definitely not be safe from sea gals and other sea birds. The solution is keeping your sailboat tidy and clean and leave no food or leftovers etc on the deck or in the cabin. 

Maintenance and Repairs

It is inevitable that your vessel will need maintenance and repairs at some point. It could be bottom painting or to repair a rusty part or otherwise treating mildew and mold that grow constantly in certain areas of your boat. One thing they all have in common is: they all come with high price tags. You want to stay on top of these repairs and maintenance as having a maintenance routine will save you a lot of money and headache in the long run.

Top 12 Best Sailboats To Live On

In this section we would like to share with you our findings (after a thorough research of the market) of 12 fantastic sailboats that could make a great home on water.

Nor’Sea 27

This very special boat was designed by Dean Wixom with the seaworthiness and crew safety in mind. In addition, it was built to be easily transportable (trailerable)from one place to another. 

This feature is very unique to this boat, there are not many vessels serving the same purpose.

Although, legally it is possible to transport this boat on the back of a trailer without any special permit, it needs a bigger than average trailer to transport it. 

Nor’Sea 27 comes with the quality, comfort, amenities and safety on the sea of a much greater vessels. Most models feature a fully galley including fridge/freezer, Double sink, a reasonably sized head and v-berth with an inbound engine and a cutaway full keel. This vessel is well known for its comfort and functionality.

Although she is available in both an aft-cockpit and center-cockpit layout, the centre cockpit is a more preferred option for many sailors. This option features an amazing aft cabin, with 4 beds and standing headroom throughout main areas in the cabin and a safe and protected cockpit. 

So all in all this beautiful and spacious boat features amenities which are very unique for its size.
It comes with almost all the features you would expect on a liveable boat. For this reason it comes
with a slightly higher price tag. Nor’See 27 pride itself on safety and seaworthiness. That makes this model one of the best liveaboard vessels that ticks many boxes.

The only issue that this boat has (although it is manageable) is having smaller water and fuel tank storage. We mentioned how important it is to have a bigger water and fuel tanks in this article, in case you missed that part click here to read our recommended water and fuel tank sizes and how to resolve this issue. Other than that Nor’Sea 27 is one of the best liveaboard sailboat out there in this price range that is very safe and comfortable.

A brand new Nor’Sea 27 will cost you around $130,000 depending on the features, however a good used Nor’Sea 27 could be found for approximately $45,000. 

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall27.00 ft / 8.23 m
Max Draft3.50 ft / 1.07 m
Beam8.00 ft / 2.44 m
Cabin Headroom6.00 ft / 1.82 m
Ballast:3,100 lb / 1,406 kg
Displacement8,100 lb / 3,674 kg
Water Tank Capacity40 gals
Fuel Tanks Capacit30 gals
Cabins: 4: V- berth forward and two aft berths
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
First Built1976
Engine 9hp Farymann/ 20hp Yanmar 2GM diesel

Catalina 30

This is a great sail aboard sailboat which was first introduced in 1974 and since then it has been extraordinarily improved. This is a very popular vessel which is sold plentifully all over the world. 

It comes in 3 models: Mark I (1974 – 1986), Mark II (1986 – 1993) and the Mark III (1994 – 1997). So if you would go for an older model, be prepared to customise a lot to improve functionality. 

The founder and president Frank Butler has been quoted in many publications saying that his company goal was to provide its customers with “as much boat for the money as we can.” 

Catalina is believed to be one of the best all-around sailboats ever built, it is a reliable and robust fibreglass sailboat that has a low price point which provides a good option for many new sailors to enjoy sailing and living aboard. 

Cataline features a well thought and spacious cabin layout and has all the basic features that a 30 feet boat has to offer such as fully galley including ice box, a large double sink, a reasonably sized head and fully functioning navigation station which makes living on this very comfortable.

This beautiful boat has a wide beam, abundant storage space, and good ballast/displacement ratio in addition to a low sail area/displacement ratio which makes Catalina very stiff and therefore comfortable to sail.  

Size-for-size and feature-for-feature the Catalina 30 is tough to beat. Depending on the model, condition and specification of the boat, you can find a good one under $40,000.

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall29.92 ft (9.1 m)
Max Draft5.25 ft / 1.60 m
Beam10.83 ft / 3.30 m
Cabin Headroom6 ft 3′
Length at Waterline25.00 ft (7.6 m)
Displacement10,200 lb / 4,627 kg
Ballast4,189 lb (1,900 kg)
CabinsSleeps 7 people
Water Tank Capacity40 gals
Fuel Tank Capacity30 gals
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass

Contessa 32

There are many reason why we think Contessa 32 is the best live aboard sailboat relative to its size and price tag. This cruising and racing boat with proven blue water track record, is truly a reliable, versatile, comfortable and seaworthy vessel that is built to cater for any type of adventure including living aboard. 

Contessa 32 is considered by many as a British yachting icon. It was first built in 1971 and it is still produced but on customer order basis. Co32 comes with speed and stability that not only make a nice racing vessel but also a great accommodation or a live aboard sailboat for you and your crew.  

Due to the design of the hull and the shape of the keel it sails smoothly without slamming on the sea bed, making the journey very comfortable. It is a classic boat with lovely lines and it is just looking so pretty, accommodating for a maximum of 6, however if living aboard probably it will be suitable for a couple and 2 kids or 4 adults. 

Co32 features a small galley on the port side and a navigation table on the starboard. An aft quarter berth,
a large salon settee with a beautiful wooden fold up dinette table in the middle that transforms
into a cosy double berth at night. Additionally you have a single settee that can be used as berth
to starboard, forward a head and v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments.

The sailboat makes excellent accommodation for  2-4 people with many amenities that are required to call it a sail-aboard home.   

Depending on the model, condition and specification of the boat, you can find a good used one for about $45,000.

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall9.75 m. (32′ 0″)
Max Draft1.68 m. (5′ 6″)
Beam2.9 m. (9′ 6″)
Cabin Headroom6’1″ / 1.85 m
Displacement4309 kg (9,500 lbs)
Ballast2042 kg (4,500 lbs) (lead)
Cabins: Sleeps 6
Water Tank Capacity 18 gals
Fuel Tank Capacity 12 gals
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine24hp Farymann/20hp Bukh/ 28hp Volvo 2003/ 3 cylinder Yanmar
Headroom Main cabin 6’1″

Nordic 40

The next sail aboard winner on our list is the 40 feet, Nordic 40. If you want to live aboard comfortably or with a larger family/crew then look no further. This American designed beauty was first built in 1978 and is generously spacious in its interior. 

That means plenty of storage space which is needed during longer crossings. This fine cruiser is initially designed as a race/cruiser, so when it comes to sailing performance that is unbeatable. Its deep draft fin keel provides for a superior windward capability. 

Nordic 40 comes with a fully insulated fiberglass hull throughout the interior, not only it will keep you warm during the cold winter nights but also to keep the condensation at bay.  

This beauty comes with a large fuel and water tank and plenty of storage spaces that will allow you to stock up for your longer crossings or to sail around the world.

Nordic features a reasonably large galley on the port side and a navigation table on the starboard. An aft cabin with 2x quarter berths, a large salon settee with a beautiful wooden fold up dinette table in the middle that transforms into a cosy double berth at night. Additionally you have a single settee that can be used as berth on the starboard side, forward a head and v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments, this comes very handy while living aboard simply because it is hard to live with some of the household items.

All in all Nordic 40 is hands down one of the best live aboard sailboats in its category that has a lot of potential for being a floating home.

Although there are not many Nordic built you will still be able to get hold of them for a market price of approx $135,000. 

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall39′ 9″ (12.11 m.)
Max Draft6.50 ft / 1.98 m
Beam12.43 ft / 3.79 m
Cabin HeadroomCabin Headroom 6’1″ / 185.4 m
Displacement18,000 lb / 8,165 kg
Ballast7,091 lb / 3,216 kg
Water Tank Capacity140 gals / 530 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit55 gals / 208 L
Cabins: Sleeps 6
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
First Built1982
Engine44 HP (33 kW) diesel engine
D/L 234
Price (Used)Approx 135,000 USD

Etap 37s

Is the safety and a superb performance something that you are looking for in a liveaboard vessels? If the answer is yes, then Etap 37s is the sailboat for you. Etap 37 is an award winner certified (by Bureau Veritas) unsinkable boat with an outstanding performance.

Something interesting with this model is that in case of flooding in the boat while at sea, not only the boat will stay afloat but it will also allow the captain and crew members to continue stay aboard and sail towards safety. This is possible because a special foam is injected in between the hull and the lining which in turn acts not only as a floatation mechanism but also as a great insulation and sound dampening layer.

This Belgian beauty has a generously wide beam for loads of storage space as well as extended stability. We think this sailboat will make a great living space for medium sized families with excellent live aboard facilities .  

Ergonomic and well thought out beautiful teak wood in the setting areas and the cabin give this boat a luxurious look. This fine cruiser offers accommodation for 6 people, with a v-berth in the bow, an aft cabin double bed and two fairly large settees in the main cabin and comes with a head and shower. The galley offers a 2-burner stove and double sink and fridge/freezer etc. 

All these excellent amenities along side the safety and performance make it and excellent liveaboard sailboat.

Sure, this boat has positioned itself at the high end of the market when we compare this vessel with other models of the same size, but the price is still competitive enough to compete against the high quality design sailboats. 

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall36′ 11″ (11.26 m)
Max Draft6’5″ (1.95 m.)
Beam12′ 7 1/2″ (3.85 m.)
Cabin Headroom6’1″ / 1.83 m 
Length at Waterline32.48 ft / 9.90 m
Displacement14,427 lb. (6,550 kg.)
Water Tank Capacity66 gal. (250 l.)
Fuel Tanks Capacit30.6 gal. (116 l.)
Cabins:  6: V- berth forward and two aft berths & 2 settees
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 29 hp (21 kW) 
Price (Used) Under 120,000 USD

Hunter 33

Hunter was first introduced in 1977 and amazingly still being produced till today.  

This will make an outstanding live aboard sailboat because it is designed to provide you with more of a house feeling than a boat. The cabin features two fairly large settees in the main cabin, good standing height headroom and beautifully designed storage compartments. Standing headroom is a great advantage to have which offers you extra comfort while living aboard.

Hunter is well known for its stainless steel arch in the cockpit area which creates a really nice set up for short handed or single hand sailing,  and the extended cockpit area enjoys all the modern devices that a modern sailor needs. Additionally the Hunter comes with lots of room in the salon, cockpit area and it is very well ventilated and lit all throughout and it is easy to sail.

Hunter features a spacious u shape galley on the aft portside, a good size fridge and freezer, 2 burner stove with oven and a stainless steel sink. 

It also features a relatively spacious liveaboard accommodation for 6 people. Aft head compartment offers a large queen size berth with plenty of headroom and ventilation windows above. Just fore of that is the head and shower. 

The cabin has a large u-shaped salon seating area that transforms into a cosy double bed using the large dinette table which is located in the middle of the salon. Additionally you have a single settee on the starboard side and forward v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments.

The price ranges from $50,000 to $90,000 depending on the models and condition of the boat. 

Truly, Hunter has enormous potential for live-aboard sailors who are willing to forgo some aspects of luxurious amenities that other same sized makes do offer, for maximising storage spaces, especially when storage is such a crucial matter in longer ocean crossings.

Less luxury has also an added benefit that is: less maintenance. This performance cruiser offers great opportunities for new sailors or people on tighter budgets. 

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall32.67 ft / 9.96 m
Max Draft5.25 ft / 1.60 m
Beam10.17 ft / 3.10 m
Displacement10,600 lb / 4,808 kg
Ballast4,100 lb / 1,860 kg
Water Tank Capacity50 gals
Fuel Tanks Capacit25 gals
Cabins:  6: V- berth & double aft berths and double cabin beds
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
First Built1977
Engine 21hp

Cal 34

Cal 34 (first produced in 1966) is considered a fairly light mid-sized sailboat for its material usage in early models. The basic model even is a very promising sail aboard boat. It comes with a spacious and basic interior, offering many standard features although it is lacking some luxury ones. 

The older models are acquired for approximately $20,000. If you decide to buy an older Cal 34 from the 70s, please note that a lot has changed in the sailing industry since then such as more efficient rigging, easier sail handling, efficient diesel engine, bigger water tank storage and more appealing interior design etc. All in all this is an excellent fairly priced live aboard option for couples and families.  

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall33.24 ft / 10.13 m
Max Draft5.00 ft / 1.52 m
Beam10.00 ft / 3.05 m
Displacement9,500 lb / 4,309 kg
Ballast3,750 lb / 1,701 kg
Holding Tank Capacity 15  gals / L15  gals
Water Tank Capacity23 gals / 87 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit25 gals / 95 L
Cabins: 5-6: V- berth forward and (two) aft berths and 2 cabin double berth
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 30 HP
Price (Used) 20,000 to 40,000 USD

Islander 36

The I-36 was first introduced in the market in 1971, and the company built around 800 boats of this model before they ceased production in 1986. This model prides itself on speed, performance and ease of handling even in heavy air. 

Like Catalina this model makes an excellent live aboard option for couples or families without compromising any important amenities. 

The cabin features a large salon seating area that transforms into a cosy double bed using the large dinette table which is located in the middle of the salon. Additionally you have a single settee ( it can be used as a bed) on the starboard side, a aft quarter berth and forward v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments. 

I-36 features an enclosed head (flush toilet) and a shower which are very important amenities to have when living abroad. 

The L-shaped galley features a large stainless steel sink, a 3 burner stove and standard icebox that can be upgraded to a full refrigeration unit. 

The price ranges from $25,000 to $65,000 depending on the models and condition of the boat. 

All and all, a generously spacious living area alongside the master berth makes this model a very good option for exploring the world as well as living aboard all year round.

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall36.08 ft / 11.00 m
Max Draft 6.00 ft / 1.83 m
Beam11.17 ft / 3.40 m
Displacement13,450 lb / 6,101 kg 
Ballast5,450 lb / 2,472 kg
Water Tank Capacity54 gals / 204 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit32 gals / 121 L   
Cabins:  5-6: V- berth forward, quarter berth and 3 cabin beds
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine  5-6: V- berth forward, quarter berth and 3 cabin beds
Price (Used) 25,000 to 65,000 USD


This 20-feet sailing boat is specifically built for blue water sailing and extended cruising. It differentiates herself from all other 20 to 27 feet live aboard boats by just being much larger for its size and class. Furthermore, it is a seaworthy and comfortable single handed boat and has a great strong structure yet small enough to be loaded on a trailer and transported easily to another location. 

The 20 feet world cruiser comes with the interior space of much larger boats, making it an awesome option to live aboard for a single or even couples.    

It was originally introduced to the market in 1972 and the production continued till late 90s. The company has built over 400 vessels over the period of 25 years. 

There are many reviews showing that many have crossed the oceans with this little sailboat even under heavy weather conditions. When it comes to size of the boat, one reviews mentioned that he felt that Flicka was more spacious than his previous 31 feet boat, that is without exaggeration.  

It is spacious enough to live in, with an excellent headroom and easy to handle. It sails beautifully although it is only 24′ 0″ ft long and it has a heavy displacement. 

This amazing vessel can accommodate 4 people and comes with many hatches and opening ports to keep your sail aboard home ventilated. 

Flicka features an aft quarter berth, a large salon settee that transforms into a cosy bed at night. Additionally you have a single settee (can be used as a bed) on the starboard side, and forward v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments. 

The galley is located amidships that includes stove/oven sink and icebox with hinged table for two. 

We have admit to that this vessel is one of the best live aboard sailboats in its size and price range.

Because this boat comes with quality, strength, safety and ease of handling, it is priced with a higher price tag of $25,000 to $45,000. 

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall24.00 ft / 7.32 m
Max Draft3′ 3″ / 99cm
Beam8′ 0″ / 2.44m
Cabin Headroom 6.00 ft / 1.83 m
Displacement6,000 lb / 2,722 kg
Ballast1,750 lb / 794 kg
Water Tank Capacity20 gals / 76 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit8 gals / 30 L    
Cabins: 2-3
Number of Heads & Shower1
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 9 HP Diesel
Price (Used) $25,000 to $45,000

Leopard 45 Catamaran

Leopard 45 is a “Boat Of The Year” award winner in 2017. This luxurious live aboard vessel features a superb performance and build quality. It has a very well thought out, all rounded and practical layout through the entire boat.

Known for for sailing speed, comfort, safety, luxury and entertainment, this offers the best live aboard options in its price range. It is a firm favorite of liveaboards as well as charters alike. This model features a light, airy and luxurious interior. The living space overall is very accommodating for those of us who wants total comfort.

Leopard 45 comes with plenty of living, setting and entertainment spaces in the cockpit area that adds to your comfort and luxury and joy during the warmer days.

The interior features 3-4 cabins, a super large saloon, a fully equipped galley, plenty of entertainment area in the cockpit with 3 to 4 heads and showers.

She is so spacious and luxurious that you will not miss anything you had in your typical home while living aboard this beauty.

The price for a used one ranges from $200,000 to $810,000 depending on the models and condition of the vessel. 

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall45.00 ft / 13.72 m
Max Draft4.92 ft / 1.50 m
Beam24.17 ft / 7.37 m
Displacement32,849 lb / 14,900 kg
Water Tank Capacity206 gals / 780 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit185 gals / 700 L  
Cabins: 3-4
Number of Heads & Shower3-4
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 2x 45 HP Diesel
Price (Used) $200,000 to $810,000

Beneteau Oceanis 57

Beneteau is a very popular and modern looking cruiser thanks to its sheltered cockpit, large deck
space and a vast aft master cabins and it makes an excellent live aboard option.

The manufacturers built this boat with speed, safety, luxury and also comfort in mind. This model
can be found in 2 or 4 cabin configuration. The 4 cabin options comes with 2 huge aft
master cabins, two double berth forward each featuring a luxurious head, sink and shower and a single aft cabin accommodating 9 people for the larger option and 7 people with a 2 cabin configuration.

The aft master cabins feature queen size berths, a side bench seating area and lockers and cabinets and plenty of natural sun light. The designers have done a great job in paying close attention to every detail.

This live aboard cruiser has every amenity that you will need while living aboard. This is a truly master piece, featuring a really massive galley with fridge/freezer, four-burner gas stove and even a dishwasher.

The gorgeous saloon features a large u shape seating area with beautiful saloon, a large bench seat on the starboard side with its own table. It is worth to note that the saloon is filled with plenty of natural light coming from the ceiling and wall windows. The saloon is finished in beautiful cherry wood that gives it a super warm feeling.

The price is between $200,000 to $600,000 range for a good used Beneteau.

Specification & Dimension

Length Overall58.40 ft / 17.80 m
Max Draft16.17 ft / 4.93 m
Beam16.17 ft / 4.93 m
Displacement48,623 lb / 22,055 kg
Water Tank Capacity264 gals / 1,000 L
Fuel Tanks Capacit127 gals / 480 L
Cabins: 5 (accommodating 9 people)
Number of Heads & Shower5
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 160 HP
Price (Used) $200,000 to $600,000

Courtesy of beneteau.com

Peterson 44

We chose this boat on our best liveaboard sailboat list because this model features a very solid structure that will allow you to build and upgrade upon if needed, in addition to that this vessel is very reasonably priced. 

This option is a well known cruiser which prides itself on the ease of sailing in any type of wind. 

The company first introduced Peterson 44 in 1976 and built only 200 of this model before they ceased production. From what we have gathered reading owner’s review they have nothing but good to say about its performance. 

This boat is very unique in having two enclosed heads and showers, one in forward and one in aft.  A full size U-shaped galley is positioned to the port. The galley comes with a large sink, a 3-burner stove, oven, fridge/freezer, good size countertop and plenty of storage in and around the galley. A large navigation station that is located to the starboard very close to the cockpit for easy access.

The main cabin features a large salon seating area that transforms into a cosy double bed using the large table. Additionally you have a single settee (can be used as a bed) on the starboard side, and forward v-berth with plenty of space and stowage compartments. This live aboard vessel features a gorgeous looking large aft master cabin with a head and shower, hanging closet, plentiful storage cabinet and private access to the cockpit. This amazing vessel can accommodate up to seven people and comes with many hatches and opening ports to keep your sail aboard home ventilated. 

The price for a good used Peterson 44 ranges from $60,000 to $110,000 depending on the models and condition of the boat. With all the amenities and above average quality it makes an excellent liveaboard option for slightly bigger families.

Specification & Dimension


Length Overall43’10” (13,36 m.)
Max Draft6’4″ (1.98 m.)
Beam12’11” (3.93 m.)
Displacement30,000 lbs. (13,607 kgs.)
Ballast10,000 lbs. (4,536 kgs.)
Water Tank Capacity132 gals
Fuel Tanks Capacit117  gals
Cabins: 6-7 people
Number of Heads & Shower2
Hull MaterialFiberglass
Engine 62-80 HP
Price (Used) $60,000 to $110,000


I know it has become a super lengthy and detailed post that takes some time to read through, but I wanted to make sure to create a complete guide including all the features to look out for and the elements to avoid when looking for a great sailboat to live on. 

When it comes to living aboard, there are many crucial elements that you don’t want to miss out as we have discussed these in great depth in this article. The tips and recommendation that we shared in this article will save your a lot of money and headache. 

This article has provided you with the knowledge how to identify a great sailboat, and how to choose your first sail aboard vessel and what makes a sailboat the best one for you.  

Our recommendation list of top 12 best boats will give you the best options out there, bear in mind that to buy a great sailboat, you might have to travel abroad to find the best options. All the best.


I am the owner of sailoradvice. I live in Birmingham, UK and love to sail with my wife and three boys throughout the year.

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