Depreciation costs for canal boats

Perhaps the biggest cost factor of buying a canal boat will be depreciation. Whilst not as bad as cars, boats do generally depreciate from the moment they’re launched, with the greatest loss in that first year and then steady decline after that.

However, the amount of care and maintenance that’s observed will have far greater impact on resale price than on a car. A well-looked after canal boat will make far more money back for its owner than a poorly-kept one; in this respect the boats are closer to houses than cars.

Of course, a boat can be a very long-term purchase in which case depreciation may be less of a concern but it is something that should be factored in to the overall lifetime cost of ownership.

In the aftermath of the Covid pandemic however, depreciation has been tipped on its head somewhat, with prices for used boats reaching record levels amid huge demand. I even sold my own boat for more than I’d paid for it seven years earlier, albeit that I had upgraded several aspects in that time. With used prices now rather higher than just a few years ago, anyone selling in years to come will likely not accept offers that are much lower, so prices could well stay high.

It seems many people re-evaluated their lives at that time and many started looking for ways to get out and enjoy the country more whether on a boat, campervan or whatever. Prices rose accordingly and, in part due to other world events since, raw material costs have also shot up making brand new boats significantly more costly than they used to as well. The days of relatively inexpensive boating may well have passed.