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Find a liveaboard marina & skip the wait list

A liveaboard marina is by far the most comfortable place to live on a boat—but finding a liveaboard slip isn’t easy! The vast majority of marinas in the US and Canada DO NOT allow liveaboards and the few that do often have long wait lists.

It took us months to find a place in Vancouver where we could live on our 35-foot sailboat. So, I wanted to share what we learned and create a resource to make things a bit easier for anyone hunting for a liveaboard marina.

With the help of readers and other liveaboards, we’ve put together a BIG list of liveaboard marinas in the US and Canada. You can search the map below to see the liveaboard marinas in your area.

But knowing where to look is only half the battle. Many liveaboard marinas have multi-year waitlists. So, I’ll share some strategies for getting a liveaboard slip including how we skipped a 10-year waitlist.

liveaboard marina
Our view when we lived aboard in Spruce Harbour Marina in Vancouver

Liveaboard marinas near me

Explore the map below to find a liveaboard marina near you!

We’ll be updating this list so please let us know in the comments if you know of a liveaboard marina that we should add to (or remove from) the map.

Can’t find a liveaboard marina or stuck on a wait list?

You’re not alone! Liveaboard slips are hard to come by. Most big cities and marinas cap the number of liveaboard slips that are available.

Very often this means multi-year wait lists for a liveaboard slip.

If you’ve called around all of the marinas with liveaboard slips and find yourself wait-listed, there are a few additional things you can do.

Sublet a liveaboard slip

Many liveaboards cruise for a season or even years at a time. Many are happy to sublet their slips while they’re away.

To get one of these coveted sublets, put together a one-page poster with a nice photo and description of yourself and what you’re looking for.

E-mail this to the marina manager and ask if they will circulate it on their liveaboard e-mail list. Also, put your poster up on the marina bulletin board.

This strategy worked for us and a couple of other people we know. You may not even need to own a boat in order to sublet. I know of a couple who rented both the boat and slip from an owner who was off traveling for a year.

It’s nice to spruce things up when you’re living on a boat full time, so I painted our galley!

Buy a boat that comes with a liveaboard slip

Often, if you buy a boat that is moored in a liveaboard slip, you can negotiate the slip into your purchase (depending on the marina’s policy).

Beware that sellers may inflate the price of their boat because liveaboard slips are so sought after. I once saw a boat selling for $50 K over what it was worth because it came with a slip.

It’s not necessarily unreasonable to pay the higher price but you should be aware of what you’re really paying for (the liveaboard slip!).

Look for a “liveaboard friendly” marina

In my search for liveaboard marinas, I came across dozens of marinas that have liveaboard communities but don’t advertise it on their websites.

Your best bet is to ask boaters in your area if they know of any marinas that have liveaboards and then call those marinas to find out about their liveaboard policy.

At Spruce Harbour we had access to a clubhouse which was great for hosting parties

Look for temporary stays

Some marinas might not allow liveaboards year-round, but welcome liveaboard cruisers to stay for a month or a whole season.

When you reach out to marinas, ask about transient moorage rates and how long you can stay.

Broaden your search area

Liveaboard slips are harder to find in cities where there’s a lot of pressure on affordable housing. You may have better luck finding a spot just out of town.

In some cases, it might even make sense to cross a border. We met lots of liveaboards in Ensenada, Mexico.

Celebrating Robin’s birthday at our liveaboard marina.

Avoid sneaking aboard

I don’t recommend sneaking aboard. You run the very real risk of being evicted at any point.

However, I know of marinas that have a reputation for looking the other way when it comes to people living full-time in non-liveaboard designated slips.

It’s important to understand your slip rental agreement, the marina’s liveaboard policy, and your rights as a liveaboard. These may differ from state to state.

Still can’t find a slip but have your heart set on living aboard? Check out our post on “Where to live aboard my boat” for other options like mooring fields and anchorages.

While you’ll need a few pieces of essential liveaboard gear to make this work, many people live very happily on the hook and you’ll save a fortune in marina fees!

Fresh caught crab and eggs benny for breakfast! We spent two years living aboard at a marina and then three years traveling and living at anchor. Life on-the-hook requires more gear (e.g., a good anchoring system and solar panels), but we loved the lifestyle!

Wondering if the liveaboard life is right for you? Check out our post: Is living on a boat right for you? 10 things you should know.

Know of any liveaboard marinas that we missed on our list? Let us know in the comments below.