Yacht Ownership Cost
Costs of Owning a Yacht
No matter what your budget size, yacht ownership cost should be considered carefully before buying a superyacht. Have you ever wondered how much it costs to own a yacht?
Yachting is a dream for many people, but only a few of us make this dream come true. In this article, you will learn what costs are associated with yacht ownership. We will deep dive into yacht ownership cost and see what factors affect average expenses for a superyacht on a yearly basis.
We will cover:
- Costs of buying a yacht
- Costs of running a yacht
- Costs of selling a yacht
- Making money with your yacht
When thinking of superyachts, most of the people imagine multi-million-euro ships with enormous price tags. Many of us think straight away: “oh no, it is not for me”. But how can you be sure, if you do not know what realistic yacht ownership costs are?
Did you ever think that yachts come it many types and sizes? Many of them are more affordable than you guess. You do not have to spend 30 million euros to buy your own superyacht. Your dream can be much closer to reality than you think.
Let’s see how.
Yacht Ownership: Running a Floating Hotel
To understand the cost of owning a superyacht, let’s first see what yacht ownership & operation actually mean. Like with any asset, the basics are simple. You buy a yacht – you own and run a yacht – you sell a yacht.
After you buy a yacht, you (or most probably your crew) will have to run its daily operations. What makes a yacht different from a car, for instance?
Although a yacht is primarily a means of transport, buying one is very different from buying a car. We love the comparison between buying a yacht and investing into a small hotel.
Like a hotel, your yacht needs dedicated staff to run its operations.
A yacht has a captain, in the same way as a hotel has a general manager.
A yacht has a galley, like a hotel has a restaurant, employing a chef and waiters.
Housekeeping and technicians make sure that the property is up and running. There is a finance department to run accounting, tax advisor and bankers to ensure financial health. Purchases need to be made and utilities be paid for.
To run a hotel smoothly, one must follow a bunch of state regulations. Fire safety regulations, sanitary regulations, security standards. Same applies for a yacht. It operates under certain safety and security regulations, depending on its size, number of guests it can host, and several other factors.
The larger the size of your floating hotel, the more complicated the operations get. When purchasing your new asset, you (or your manager) will have to think about all the above-mentioned aspects. Understanding the amount of yearly workload and the associated yacht ownership costs will set right expectations from the start. And believe us, all the effort is worth it in the end.
Now let’s look at the main pricing factors:
List of Yacht Ownership Costs
1. COST OF INITIAL YACHT PURCHASE
We gave you a general picture of yacht operations and their proximity to running a small hotel. At this stage, let’s look at costs that yacht ownership is comprised of.
The first large expense is the initial purchase price of your superyacht. This is the biggest bulk of money you will spend at one time. The exact amount will differ depending on your yacht’s model, size, age, and various other factors.
Yachtowner.co prepared a whole separate section of articles to help you choose which yacht to buy.
The larger the size of a yacht, the more expensive it gets. The larger headcount of crew will be needed, the more expensive the marina docking, the higher fuel consumption. But first and foremost, the higher the initial purchase price will be.
Superyachts depreciate with time. New-build yachts are obviously more expensive and offer most advanced technology and design. For yacht owners, it is often a dilemma between size and age of a boat to buy. For the same amount of money, you can get a smaller but newer yacht, or a larger but older boat without all the technical specifications you want. If you want to read more about new-build or pre-owned yachts, visit our article “Should I buy a New or a Used Yacht?”
Some yacht brands are more well-known and internationally recognized than others. Choice of the yacht manufacturer will impact the cost of the future boat. Most famous yacht brands charge higher premiums. On the other hand, you might also get better deal while selling your premium brand yacht later. See our Comprehensive List of 195 Superyacht Brands to get to know them all.
2. SUPERYACHT RUNNING COSTS
After the initial purchase is made, there are yearly yacht ownership costs to be covered. Let’s take a closer look at superyacht operating expenses.
These will be spread more or less evenly over the duration of your ownership. In general, yearly ownership costs for a superyacht amount to 10-15% of the yacht’s initial purchase price. Since this cost is substantial, it is important to plan it from the beginning. If you plan to own the yacht for 6-10 years, it will probably cost you the double of the initial price.
Now let’s run through cost categories.
The largest bulk of superyacht ownership cost are crew salaries. Typically, they will account for somewhere around 30-40% of yearly yacht ownership cost.
Unless you decide to take necessary certifications and to operate the yacht yourself (which will be feasible only with smaller yachts), you will need to hire at least an experienced captain.
There is a lot to be said about importance of a knowledgeable captain and a well selected crew. We will cover this topic more detailed in our article on Yacht Crew Management.
Crew size grows with yacht size. The larger the vessel, the more crew members will be needed to ensure its smooth operation and high service standards.
Core crew members will in most cases be hired on a full-time basis over the whole year. If you do not plan to use the yacht during winter, then it might make sense to reduce the number of active crew members for several months during low season. Bear in mind, however, than with a new season approaching, your captain will have to find new crew members again. And it might be hard.
The exact number of crew will depend not only on the boat size, but also on its registration and owners’ expectations. Here are several examples of crew setup for various motor yacht sizes:
Crew can make or break your yachting experience. We cannot stress enough the importance of finding right people. They should not only have exceptional professional skills to cater for perfection, but also get along well with each other.
Working on a yacht is a challenging experience, very different from any shore-based job. Yacht crew often spends several months living in small quarters, spending their time together 24/7. They are away from their families and friends for long time. Such conditions can easily take a toll on their relationships and consequently on the atmosphere aboard. Therefore, it is an absolute key to find right personalities which click well together.
High crew turnover is something you want to avoid. Treating your crew with respect and providing them good working conditions is the right way to go.
Larger yachts demand higher qualifications from crew members, including those of captains and engineers. Piloting a 120-meter yacht is very different from piloting a 20-meter yacht. Many crew members work on progressively larger yachts as their careers evolve. Consequently, qualified crew members for large yachts are harder to find. Their salaries tend to be higher than of those working on smaller boats.
Worth mentioning is that other crew-related expenses, such as health insurance, food, uniforms, training, visas, in some cases repatriation costs (costs of flying a crew member from the yacht to her/his home), and recruitment costs are also to be covered by yacht owner.
Another substantial part of yacht ownership cost is fuel. On average, it is the second-largest bulk of costs after crew salaries. The more you cruise, the more you pay for fuel. Good news is that the current trend towards more eco-friendly engines and less fuel consumption is slowly taking hold of the yachting industry. Still, if you enjoy speed while cruising your private yacht (as we know you do), you will need fuel. A lot of it.
Also, other liquids such as oil and lubricants will be needed onboard.
REFIT & MAINTENANCE
Superyachts are masterpieces of engineering thought and latest technologies. Brightest minds of the yachting industry work hard to deliver the most secure and reliable vessels for you.
It does not mean, though, that they will never need maintenance work to keep the systems going. Even the best technical equipment sometimes breaks. Sometimes at a very wrong moment.
Maintenance work can be roughly divided into two types: planned and unplanned.
Planned maintenance is scheduled over the course of a year. Ideally it is completed during low season when the yacht is not in use. The better you understand which maintenance activities need to be done, the better you can plan ahead and avoid unnecessary costs.
Not so easy with ad-hoc fixes: if something breaks down while yacht is in use, it will probably need to be fixed during a very limited period of time and cost extra money. Especially so if it happens during a charter with guests onboard. Especially so if your yacht is in a remote location. Often your crew will use specialized services to get spare parts delivered to the boat.
Docking costs are the next runner in our list of yacht ownership costs. Where will you keep your asset during high and low seasons? Which ports and marinas do you plan to visit? Does the climate in your home marina permit leaving the yacht in water during winter? Or will you prefer to keep it in a dry winter storage under a roof?
In many popular yachting locations, marina berths are in high demand. One must often book well in advance to get a berth. During the high season in the Mediterranean, for each yacht docked at a berth, there will be several yachts mooring around the marina. Dockage costs are calculated mostly by size of the yacht and the amount of time it spends at the marina.
At sea, anything can happen. And you want your yacht to be properly insured. Yacht insurance costs can vary greatly depending on your yacht age and specifications, and the types of risks which are included in the coverage. It is also often a pre-requisite for receiving yacht financing.
COST OF YACHT FINANCING
Majority of superyachts are financed through specialized loans. Taking out a loan will allow you to use your free cash to make more profitable investments, while paying lower interest rates on your yacht loan.
ADMIN & ACCOUNTING
To keep your books in order, you might use services of an accountant or get subscription to one of the yacht financial management tools and budgeting software solutions. Many owners delegate yacht accounting to their existing financial department in their family office to keep everything under the same roof. Keeping proper accounting in place will not only help to comply with regulations, but also to keep track of your yacht ownership cost.
Our already long list of yacht ownership costs will not be complete without mentioning all the provisioning. Food, drinks, cleaning supplies, fresh flowers, water you use in bathrooms and galley, any extra equipment you might need for special events on your yacht – all this needs to be purchased.
3. COST OF SELLING A YACHT
Apart from purchase and running costs of a superyacht, there are also costs associated to selling a yacht.
To get the best price for your asset, you might want to invest into some repairs and fixes. These can also become requirement from a potential buyer, who submits a conditional offer to purchase your boat. Read our article “How to Buy a Yacht” to learn more.
Brokerage commissions and marketing expenses will comprise another chunk of sale expense.
The larger the yacht, the harder it gets to find a suitable buyer. It can last several months or sometimes even years to sell a large yacht. While your yacht is on sale, there are still crew salaries, insurance, and all other operational expenses to pay.
The best way to keep your superyacht ownership costs under control is to forecast them in advance, and to think of exit timeline and options already at the time of purchase.
4. HOW CAN YOU MAKE MONEY ON YOUR YACHT?
You can also make some money on your yacht. To offset part of operational costs, many owners choose to charter their yacht during the times when they do not use the yacht themselves.
In the old days, purchasing a yacht especially for making money on charter used to be a viable business model. Today, with growing prices and high operational costs, it becomes less common practice. Majority of charter yachts which are out there today are chartered to cover at least part of their costs, not to make profits.
Obviously, some owners decide to keep their boat very private and not to let other people use it. For many owners though, charter is an excellent way to make use of their vessels. Especially when you know that your crew will keep the boat in perfect condition after charter has ended.
SUMMARY: Yacht Ownership Cost
In this article, we listed costs associated with yacht ownership. We went through the whole list of expenses connected to buying, running, and selling a yacht. The exact amounts vary greatly with size of the yacht, its registration type and your expectations. Cost structure stays similar for every yacht, but also depends on its size and usage.
The largest amount you will spend is yacht purchase price. Then, during your ownership, you will pay for crew salaries, fuel, maintenance & refit works, dockage, insurance, financing, accounting, food & drinks, to name a few. There will be also some expenses associated with selling your yacht, such as brokerage commission and cost of repair. Your captain or manager will help you set up a budget and keep an eye on all upcoming expenses. And remember: what you are really paying for is not gallons of fuel, new pumps or dockage fees, but all the unforgettable memories, unique experiences and simply amazing times with your family and friends.
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