Mikaella and Brandt on their boat in the Pacific.
Mikaella Taylor, 25, and her fiancé moved onto their 30-foot sailboat a year ago.Taylor loves being close to nature, living a more minimalist lifestyle, and saving on rent.It’s much easier than she thought it would be, and she plans to continue living there for years.
This as-told-to essay is based on a conversation with Mikaella Taylor, 25, a small-business owner, who moved onto a 30-foot sailboat with her fiancé a year ago. The conversation was edited for length and clarity.
My fiancé, Brandt, bought our 30-foot sailboat six years ago with the goal of living on it. That was before I met him. He paid $9,000 for the boat.
Brandt studied songwriting in college, and didn’t know much about boating. But on a whim, he went on a sailing trip in the Grenadine islands. He fell in love with it. He had always wanted to do van life, or convert an RV, and when he realized he could do the same thing on a boat, he wanted to make it happen.
Last year, we got to the point in our relationship that we were about to be engaged and the lease was up on his apartment. I was ready to move out of where I was. We both were looking to move somewhere together.
So, we went through the process of getting a living permit for the boat, which requires an inspection by the harbormaster. He comes to inspect the boat for safety, to make sure we’re going to keep the marina clean, and that we can move the boat if we need to.
It was such a quick and easy process. We were nervous. It was one of those things that we were expecting to be a lot harder than it was. It kind of just fell into our lap. We got really lucky.
Mikaella and Brandt on their boat.
Courtesy of Mikaella Taylor
Our monthly housing expense is an $820 slip fee that we split
I always say we have the cheapest waterfront property around. We pay $820 for our slip fee, which includes fresh water, WiFi, and electricity — all the things we need.
I was living at home before we moved on the boat and Brandt was in an apartment. He shared a space with somebody, and his portion of the rent was around $1,100 a month.
When I talk about this, I always try to emphasize that we weren’t just moving on to the boat for the affordability.
We wanted to live on the boat regardless. And, actually, we were prepared to have to start taking on another job if it meant that living on the boat was going to be more expensive.
When we found out we were also going to be saving a lot of money by doing this, we thought it would be stupid not to.
It’s been much easier than I imagined it would be
I remember when I met Brandt, he was telling me, “I bought this boat to live on it.” I was like, “You can do that? That seems so challenging and crazy. I can’t imagine all the adjustments you’d have to make to your lifestyle.”
The most surprising thing is actually how easy it’s been — and we really haven’t had to make many adjustments.
The interior of the boat.
Courtesy of Mikaella Taylor
We’re blessed with good weather here.
People are always concerned about us when it’s raining — but rain on the boat really isn’t a challenge. It’s a little uncomfortable because everything’s wet, but aside from that we actually really like being inside the boat when it’s raining.
It’s like being in your car when it rains. You hear that sound of the rain hitting the top of the boat. We just put on a good movie and make waffles and it’s perfectly pleasant.
We live in close quarters so we limit the stuff we have
One way we did have to adjust our lifestyle was by condensing our belongings because we live in a 30-foot space with the two of us.
Before that, we were living in full houses. So we had to really nail down the things that we need, the things we want to stay with us on the boat, and how we can store them in a way that is going to save space.
We also have to be mindful of the boat’s movement. We have to consider what’s gonna break. We can’t have glass.
I realized that I didn’t need as much stuff as I thought I needed. It’s brought me so much peace to have less stuff, and know where things are, and have a mental inventory of everything I have. I like to gather knickknacks, but it’s been good for me to realize that I don’t need all of that stuff to be happy — and that I think I am actually more happy and more at peace with fewer things.
The couple in snorkeling gear.
Courtesy of Mikaella Taylor
A lot of people told us we were going to be sick of each other. They asked us what we would do if we didn’t want to be around each other. They said that we were always going to be in each other’s space.
But luckily, my fiancé and I like each other so much. After a year we still very much like being around each other.
It’s brought us closer to nature, and made us more passionate about sustainability
I’ve always been really passionate about sustainability, which is also a reason that I really liked this lifestyle. It feels like a very sustainable way to live.
We feel so close to nature that it makes us more conscious of our impact on it.
After a lot of rain, there’s usually so much trash floating in the water — it affects our home. Obviously, I think facing it makes me much more mindful of the waste that I am creating more than, I think, people who aren’t near it and don’t have to face it as often.
I’ve also always been passionate about fashion. I was working on designing my own line of T-shirts and then started learning about the terrible impacts that some forms of fashion — like fast fashion — have on the environment.
The couple on their boat.
Lexi Johnson for Mikaella Taylor
So I started getting into vintage fashion, and realized we have more than enough already. If we can just work with what we have to design really cool, unique, one-of-a-kind pieces, I think that’s even more special than adding to this impact that we’re having on the environment by creating it in mass quantities so quickly and drop shipping. So I’ve decided to make that my work.
The hard parts feel like an adventure
Some weather challenges have been difficult, though. The wind is really uncomfortable because the boat rocks so much.
Once, we realized that one of our lines that ties us to the dock had been shredded really thin but we thought, “Oh, it’s fine.”
Then, in the middle of the night one time, it was really windy and that line snapped and pushed us so far to the other side of the dock. We were out there in the middle of the night in the wind and rain trying to tie it.
I posted a video of it on TikTok, and somebody else who does live aboard a boat was like one of the main lessons I’ve learned is fix it when you can and not when you have to.
I thought I was going to be so uncomfortable all the time.
But the challenges are actually really fun. As much as getting up in the middle of the night in the wind and rain to tie the boat on is not everybody’s cup of tea, it’s like an adventure for us. It’s so fun.
Before I would have thought, “Well, I don’t know if I’m going to be able to pull that off. I might not be cut out for this lifestyle where I’m gonna have to be out in the wind and rain tying a line onto the boat.”
But when you’re put in a position that you have to do it and then you go, “Oh, I did that and it actually wasn’t terrible. It was kind of fun.” That’s been a really good learning experience for me, too.