You might never have owned a boat before, or you might already have your own boat, but it doesn’t suit you. Here are the things that you need to consider before purchasing a boat.
How will you use it?
Are you going to be boating mostly alone? Or will you typically be fishing with one or two other people? It can be disappointing to buy a boat and then find out that it is too small for your whole family, and so you don’t get enough use out of it. Conversely, if you buy a boat that is too big, and it is only you who use it, you might find it too much of a hassle to take out. Think of how you want to use it. It is probably a safer bet to get one bigger instead of smaller just in case. You don’t want to leave your kids or your friends on shore! (Except maybe if you do: then you can get a small fishing rig just for you and for some peace and quiet!)
How often will you use it?
If you are only going to be a pleasure boater, or if you don’t live near water, you will probably want a boat that can fit on a trailer. If you will be taking it out more than just on weekends, you will want to consider keeping it in a marina. Remember to account for the costs of storing your boat when you are making your budget: a typical rule of thumb is to double your monthly payments to find out how much you will really be spending on upkeep, maintenance, and storage.
Where will you use it?
Get a boat that you will be able to access, no matter how you plan to do it. If you live far from the nearest lake or river, then you will want to figure out how you will be getting to your boat. Consider also if you will be using your boat in freshwater or saltwater, because that can sometimes make a difference to the materials that you want to buy.
If you will be in the Great Lakes or in the Ocean, you will want a different type of boat than if you are going to be in rivers. For these types of lakes, or lakes with very choppy waters, you will want a boat with a deep-V hull so that your ride isn’t as bumpy.
What kind of boat do you want?
Buying a kayak is completely different than buying a schooner. You will probably have an idea of the type of boat that you want when you go to make your purchase. Do you want one that has a motor? Do you want one that is specialized for fishing? There are many different types of fishing boats and other specialty boats. Perhaps you are interest in a sailboat.
The best way to find out what kind of boat you want is to talk to other boaters. They will be happy to tell you about their best purchases (and sometimes their worst, too, which you can learn from). They might even take you out for a spin in their boat when you are considering your options.
In the end, you will know what boat is right for you. Do your research and you will feel well-prepared to buy any boat you want!