New vs. Used Boats: 5 Reasons To Buy Used Vessels

There’s nothing quite like buying your first boat. Buying a used boat is prudent if you are concerned about budget. Deep down inside we all really wish we could be shopping for a new boat. You want that sweet smell of styrene when you open a hatch. You want that VIP delivery experience. Well, don’t fret. Shopping for and buying a used boat has its benefits and they last a lot longer than the new-boat smell or the memory of taking delivery. Take heed used-boat buyer, because there are at least five reasons to be perfectly happy with your used boat purchase.

1. Used Boats Cost Less

It’s no secret. Used boats cost less than new boats. A lot less. That’s what makes them so appealing. Less money out of pocket up front leaves more money for important things, like saving for retirement or your kids’ college education. Or more gas for boating vacations! A used boat gets you out on the water for less money, and there’s tremendous value in that.

2. New Boats Depreciate A Lot The First Year Of Their Life 

When you buy used, much of the depreciation already has taken place. The rule of thumb is that new boats depreciate 10 percent the first year and 6 to 8 percent every year thereafter. That may be the rule of thumb, but when I review used boat prices, it looks like more than 10 percent, but we’ll use that figure for our example.

Say you buy a boat that’s four years old (a good age to pick up a used model). The rule of thumb holds that the boat will be priced 28 percent to 34 percent below what it cost new. That’s a large loss that you don’t have to take on, all because you bought used.

 3. Boats Model Cycles Are Long

Let’s go back to that four-year old model you just bought. Model cycles for boats are usually longer than four years — probably around five to six years — so if you can find a boat that a particular manufacturer still makes, you are out on the water in the same model as the guy who bought new. Provided you were particular and bought something that was clean and well maintained, you have essentially the same boat as the guy who bought new. There are thousands of used boats for sale out on the water that are essentially the same as new models rolling out of the manufacturing plant today.

4. A Used Boat Can Look Just as Good

If you took your time and bought it right, the odds are pretty good that your boat will look just as good on the water as a new one. For a plan of attack, consider reading How To Buy A Boat: The Ultimate Guide to help you find a high-quality, clean, well-maintained used boat which will retain its value. Once you put them in the water and get them out scurrying about on the lake or river, they all pretty much look the same anyway.

5. Nobody Can Spot A Used Boat In The Water 

Can you see much of a difference between a brand new Sea Ray and one that’s a few years old? How about a used Monterey, or a used Regal or Bryant? If you can, chances are you will find the differences are negligible, and that’s why it makes a lot of sense to consider a used boat — even if you can afford to buy new.

Advantages And Disadvantages To Buying Used Vs New Boats

Advantages of Buying A Used Boat

  • A bigger boat for less money
  • Cheaper insurances
  • Better value 
  • You can haggle on price

Disadvantages of Buying A Used Boat

  • Less opportunity to customize the boat
  • No warranty
  • Somebody has already used it
  • Builders generally don’t negotiate the price


Editor’s Note: The original version was published in August 2015, and was edited and republished in June, 2021.

Written by: Brett Becker

Brett Becker is a freelance writer and photographer who has covered
the marine industry for 15 years. In addition to covering the ski boat
and runabout markets for, he regularly writes and shoots for Based in Ventura, Calif., Becker holds a bachelor’s
degree in journalism and a master’s in mass communication from the
University of Central Florida in Orlando.