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Boats vs. Swimming Pools: Which Is a Better Investment for My Family?

Boats vs. Swimming Pools: Which Is a Better Investment for My Family?

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Should I invest in a boat or a swimming pool? Such a question I've heard over and over again from customers over these past 9 years of owning a swimming pool company in a part of the world (Virginia) where boats, in many ways, are a major part of the life and culture.

Some other questions that homeowners are confronted with:

  • What would be more fun?
  • Which would get used more?
  • Which holds its value better?

Personally speaking, I have owned both a swimming pool and a boat. Both are certainly fun and exciting but in this article I wanted to relate to the readers my experiences and thoughts relating to the pros and cons of boat ownership.


My Experience

I owned a smaller 15 ft tri hull with a walk through bough and a 75 horsepower Evenrude motor. Needless to say this boat could move and served several purposes - fishing, skiing, tubing, hydro sliding and just plain relaxing on the water. Because I live within a quarter mile of the Rappahannock River and in a community that has a boat launch and boat slips, I had the best of two worlds. I could put my boat in a slip when I was done or I could pull it out and bring it home.

I used the boat quite a bit; I was single and had the spare time to go out on the river on the weekends. I was doing construction at the time and I had a job on the river so I would take the boat to the job on some days. I was making good money and a single dad with two kids, so spending a hundred dollars on the weekend pulling skiers and such was not that big a deal.


Boat Maintenance

Owning a boat does come with maintenance issues like any expensive toy. The maintenance issue I found to be the most cumbersome was the need to clean the bottom constantly. I did not paint the bottom because you lose around 5 mph when you paint a boat bottom. The reason I had to clean the bottom was because in salt water if you leave the boat in the water for any length of time you will get a buildup of slime and barnacles.

I tended to leave my boat in the water because it was easier than pulling it out after each use. Of course, that was until the automatic bilge pump did not work during a big storm and I received a call saying my boat was almost underwater. Bailing a boat out in a huge storm is no fun, and then I had to pull it out and take it home. It was then I decided it was not worth keeping in the boat slip, so I would bring the boat home each time I would use it. Such was a pain but it came with the territory.


Times Change

The kids liked the boat, but my son learned that being on the river in the fall can be very cold and decided fishing was not worth the cold. They enjoyed the skiing and tubing parts of the boat, not the lazy days on the river or fishing. So, sometimes they went and others they didn't. Although it was not a large boat, it seated six people comfortably. I then got married to a young lady that had four children living at home with her.

My new wife and family moved in and the boat seemed to stay parked in the yard. I also started a new business which was a pool business, and guess what went in the back yard? Yep, you're right, a swimming pool. The boat did not make one trip out after the pool went in. So I gave the boat to my son in law. I could have sold it and taken a huge loss, so I decided that my son in law would enjoy it and it would be nice for him and his family. They used it a couple of times but then it sat in his yard. That boat with a perfectly good engine sat and went to waste because it was less fun to take care of than it was to use.


The Difference of Pool Ownership

Now for my experience with the pool. On the first day the pool was being used by my son and his friends, my wife was looking out the kitchen window and said "it doesn't get any better than this - the kids using the pool and I can watch them right here from the kitchen window."  I also thought it was great because I didn't have to haul the pool to the water for the kids to use it and I did not even have to be there. We could have friends, family, and neighbors all swimming at once and have a blast. The work was minimum - around a half hour a week and the cost of operating a pool for season is less than the cost of operating a boat for a couple of weekends.

Now, please understand, this is in my case, and not everyone's experience is the same with a boat. For example, it is certainly less expensive if you just fish or anchor and relax. But I had kids, and fishing and relaxing will only go so far as they wanted skiing and action, which gets expensive.


The Joys of Children

What I enjoyed about our swimming pool was that when I was mowing the grass and doing yard work all I had to do to cool off was jump in. I also enjoyed coming home in the evening and just climbing into a float and relaxing (at times too much because I would fall asleep). One of my biggest enjoyments was watching the grandchildren call out ‘PePe, PePe watch me!', and they would jump into the pool without any swimmies. (Those are the floats that go around their arms to help them learn to swim.)


It is amazing how fast children learn to swim when you have a pool. At the public pool, my step son was terrified of letting go of the wall and was not interested in wearing swimmies, but when we had our pool he quickly adapted and wanted to jump in and swim. The pool would bring our children back home with the grandchildren, so they could swim and that was always a pleasure. My wife could use it with or without me, so could the kids, so could the grandkids, and none of that was possible with a boat.

When it comes down to it, the pool was all about low maintenance, low operating cost, and high fun. And oh yeah, the people who bought my house bought it because of the swimming pool. So pools do add value to the home - do not let the real estate company fool you. I did not plan the day the people showed up at my house to look at it, but it could have appeared that I did. My step daughter showed up with the van full of my grandchildren and their friends who all jumped out yelling and carrying on while they ran for the pool. House Sold. I never missed the boat at all, and that is why they say it is better to know someone who owns a boat than to own one yourself. In my opinion swimming pools win hands down.


 A Final Review

  • Boats depending on use can be as much as $50 dollars a day to operate; this does not include gas to get the boat to the launch site.
  • Fiberglass Swimming Pools cost $1 a day to operate; this includes chemicals and electricity.
  • Boats are limited as to when you can use them due to time restrictions.
  • Swimming Pools are unlimited with use; they are there when you are ready to jump in.
  • Boats are limited on how many can go out at any given time.
  • Swimming Pools - the whole family and friends can enjoy together.
  • Boats have high maintenance; cleaning boat each time it is used, taking to launch site, pulling boat out of water can be as much as one hour if you live within one mile of the water.
  • Fiberglass Swimming Pools are less than one hour a week.
  • Boats lose value very quickly.
  • Fiberglass Swimming Pools increase the value of your home.
  • Boats are very costly on long term maintenance, the motor and the interior components of the boat like the fabric on the seats and electronics. Over a 5 year period over $2,000 that is why they say it is a hole in the water you throw money into.
  • Fiberglass Swimming Pools very low cost of long term maintenance, the pump and electronics. Over a twenty year period maybe $2,000.
  • Boats will last you between 5 and 10 years.
  • Fiberglass Swimming Pools will last you a lifetime.


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