Purchasing your first boat is a big decision. It’s a commitment, both in terms of maintenance and finances. You have to consider many aspects such as storing it, maintaining it and operating it. Here are 5 common sense questions to help you as you think about buying a boat.

How do you plan to use your boat?

First of all, you want to consider how you will be using a boat. What kind of activities are you interested in? What’s pulling you to make this purchase? If you’re an avid angler, this might be a no brainer. But if you want to get out on the water more for leisure boating or low-key fishing, you’ll have to really think about the best option. And depending on what you want to use a boat for, you’ll also need to think about how big it should be. You’ll also need to think about how you’re going to tow the boat and where you’ll store it as you think about size.

Are you prepared to own a boat?

Next, consider all the aspects of owning and storing a boat. You’ll definitely need registration and insurance. But also consider where you will store it? If you want to slip it, arrange for the slip before you take delivery of your boat. If you want to trailer it, make sure you have a place off the street to store it. Check in with your city as well as neighborhood about the regulations for storing a trailer and boat. Some cities won’t let you park an unhitched trailer on the street and many HOA’s won’t let you park a boat in your driveway.

Are you ready financially?

Because of the harsh marine and aquatic environments, boats require a lot of upkeep and maintenance to preserve them and keep them in top shape. This in turn requires a lot of money. Additionally, you have to consider the cost of winterization when your boat is not in use. You could finance a boat but remember that boat loans often have higher interest rates than other types of loans. So just determine what you can afford and plan accordingly.

New or Used?

Consider whether you want a new vessel or a used one. New vessels will obviously have less immediate maintenance issues but you’ll pay a premium for a brand new boat. And because boats depreciate so quickly, you won’t necessarily see a ROI on this investment. If you choose used, the boat will come with more character but also more wear and tear. It could cost a lot more in repairs sooner than a new boat.

Did you thoroughly inspect the boat?

As you start to evaluate boats and look at your options, remember to carefully and thoroughly inspect the boat before purchase. Inspect the hull for rot and the bilge for water or fuel. Make sure the engine runs well and that the number of hours is close to what was advertised.

After considering all these aspects of boat ownership, you’re closer to your goal of purchasing a boat.