Kelli remote work corporate nomad sailboat How to Make Money While Sailing Around the World: Jobs for Sail Life

How to Make Money While Sailing Around the World: Jobs for Sail Life

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Ever thought about taking to the open seas but worried about how you will earn a scrap? There has never been a better time to combine sail life with a career, and, having done it, we can tell you how.

The majority of permanent or temporary live-aboard sailors we encounter are retirees. In fact, the average age of boat owners is almost 60, even older if you remove powerboats from the mix and look only at sailboat and motor cruiser owners.

The obvious reason for this is that boats are expensive, and most people under 60 are in the phase of their lives where they are working to provide for themselves and their families. Usually, they don’t have the time or the money to worry about buying or maintaining a boat.

However, with the rapid rise of nomadism, there has never been more opportunity to combine a sailing lifestyle with a productive, lucrative, and long-term career.

Check Out Our Journey to Remote Working From a Sailboat Here

As more and more people embrace expatriotism, digital nomadism, van life, and other locationally flexible lifestyles, the oceans have become the new frontier for the untethered. The freedom to cast off the lines and set sail for a liveaboard lifestyle, all while managing a business or career remotely, is an enticing vision, one that more and more people are making a reality.

But how exactly do you make money on a boat? Well, there are many ways to stitch a sail, and what works for one may not work for another. How you decide to earn money while sailing will be dependent on your skills, qualifications, and temperament. Whether you prefer to work with your hands doing odd jobs in the off-season and running charters or skippering boats in the summer, work remotely for a company, or start your own online business, there is a wide range of options.

We have been living on a boat and working for three seasons now and have come across countless sailors like ourselves working to support their sailing habits.

This article will cover some of the best tried and true jobs for sail life.

Preparing to Make Money While Sailing

Setting Financial Goals

Embarking on a sailing lifestyle requires careful financial planning. The first step is to determine how much money you need to sustain this lifestyle. This involves calculating the cost of buying and maintaining a boat, daily living expenses, insurance, and emergency funds. Creating a budget for your liveaboard life is crucial, as it helps you understand your financial needs and set realistic income goals.

Read More About The Cost of Living on a Sailboat Full-Time

The truth is that, with modest expectations for sail life, you can live just as affordably, if not more affordably, on the water as you can on the land.

Our goal in living on a sailboat is to spend less and travel more. We prefer to be self-sufficient travelers, spending nights on the anchor rather than the marina as much as possible. Our boat is a modest 29-foot monohull from 1986.

We are able to live well below our means, especially sailing in regions like Greece, where many costs associated with sailing and living are significantly lower.

Skills and Equipment

To make money while sailing, you need to be equipped with the right skills, qualifications, and equipment.

Skills and Qualifications for Making Money While Sailing

Having skills that are in demand for remote opportunities, such as writing, graphic design, or programming, can be highly beneficial. For those considering marine-based businesses, qualifications like sailing certifications, diving licenses, or fishing permits might be necessary. Once you have decided on the type of job or income strategy you will pursue (more on this below), obtaining the necessary skills and qualifications is the first step.

Generally, it’s easier to complete the necessary courses or study required before you take to the water.

The Right Equipment for Making Money While Sailing

The right equipment, from navigation tools to safety gear, is also essential to operate successfully and safely at sea.

For remote work, ensuring you have a reliable internet connection is essential. You will need to know where you plan to sail and the limitations of different connectivity solutions. For example, we tend to stay pretty close to the shore and can rely on mobile network coverage. But those sailing offshore or with high bandwidth requirements may prefer satellite or long-range Wi-Fi systems.

You will also need the necessary tools to perform your job, like a laptop and other work-related devices, and, importantly, the power to charge those devices. Having sufficient battery capacity and charging output is essential for working while sailing.

Understanding your requirements and investing in quality equipment at the outset will allow you to get your work done efficiently and without unnecessary stress.

This preparation phase sets the foundation for a successful and sustainable sailing lifestyle, where work and adventure can coexist without creating stress or affecting productivity.

Working Remotely From a Boat: Remote Jobs for Sail Life

Girl watching the sunset from a sailboat with the dinghy in the background and a glass of wine

A variety of jobs are suitable for remote work. From digital nomads acting as independent contractors and freelancers leveraging the gig economy to online business owners to corporate nomads filling permanent, temporary, or contractor roles, there is a long list of compatible jobs.


Freelancing offers a flexible way to leverage your skills and work from anywhere, including the middle of the ocean. Fields like writing, graphic design, programming, and digital marketing are particularly conducive to freelance work. Utilizing platforms such as Upwork, Freelancer, or Fiverr can help you connect with clients and secure projects that match your expertise.

Often finding a freelancing opportunity can lead to more jobs or even more permanent roles in the future if you impress.

Remote Work

Securing a remote job or negotiating remote work arrangements with your current employer can also sustain your sailing lifestyle. Many companies are open to remote work, especially if you’ve proven your ability to deliver results independently. It’s important to establish a reliable work routine and ensure you have the necessary communication tools, like satellite internet, to maintain productivity and connectivity.

Online Businesses

Starting an online business can be an excellent way to generate income while sailing. E-commerce stores, digital marketing agencies, or online consulting services can be managed from anywhere in the world. This requires upfront effort to set up and automate business operations but can provide significant long-term returns.

Content Creation

Creating and monetizing content related to your sailing adventures, such as blogging, vlogging, or social media, can also be a lucrative path. Sharing your experiences, tips, and lifestyle with an audience can attract sponsorships, advertising revenue, and opportunities for collaboration with brands and other creators. Beware, this type of income strategy can be unreliable and take a long time to develop (trust us).

Working remotely from a boat combines the freedom of the sailing lifestyle with the practicality of earning an income, allowing for an adventurous yet sustainable way of life.

Remote Jobs for Boat Life

Girl working on her laptop on a sailboat in the Mediterranean

Here are a few examples of potential jobs that would suit remote work that is compatible with sail life. This list is by no means exhaustive, but it gives an idea of the types of roles that could suit a life at sea.

Freelance Writing or Content Creation

  • Suitability: Ideal for those with a knack for storytelling or content creation. Can work on blogs, articles, scripts, and more.
  • Challenges and Solutions: Unstable income and client dependence can be issues. Building a diverse client base and maintaining a consistent work schedule can help mitigate these risks.
  • How to Find These Jobs: Utilize platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and LinkedIn to find writing gigs. Creating a portfolio website can also attract clients directly.

Graphic Design or Web Development

  • Suitability: Suitable for individuals with skills in digital design or web development. Can work on project-based tasks for clients worldwide.
  • Challenges and Solutions: Need for continuous learning to keep up with industry trends. Freelancers can overcome this by regularly updating their skills and networking with other professionals in the field.
  • How to Find These Jobs: Platforms like Behance, Dribbble for designers, and Stack Overflow, GitHub for developers can be useful for finding work and showcasing your portfolio.

Remote Consulting

  • Suitability: This is good for experienced professionals in fields like business, marketing, or IT who can offer advisory services.
  • Challenges and Solutions: Establishing credibility and a client base can be difficult initially. Leveraging previous professional networks and attending industry webinars or conferences can help build reputation and client trust.
  • How to Find These Jobs: Networking on LinkedIn, industry-specific platforms, leverage freelance opportunities (found on Upwork) into more work, and using personal and professional connections.

Online Teaching or Tutoring

  • Suitability: Fits individuals with expertise in a specific subject or skill who can teach or tutor online. English is an example of a teaching job with low barriers to entry.
  • Challenges and Solutions: Time zone differences and scheduling can pose challenges. Utilizing online scheduling tools and offering recorded sessions can provide flexibility for both teacher and student. Pay can be lower, and the job market can be tight.
  • How to Find These Jobs: Websites like Teachable, VIPKid, or offer platforms to teach or tutor various subjects and skills.

Digital Marketing and Social Media Management

  • Suitability: Ideal for those with skills in SEO, social media, and online advertising.
  • Challenges and Solutions: Staying up-to-date with digital trends and algorithm changes is essential. Continuous learning and adaptation to new digital tools and platforms can help.
  • How to Find These Jobs: Freelance job boards, digital marketing agency listings, and social media networks are good places to start.

E-commerce Management

  • Suitability: Suitable for those interested in managing online stores, handling logistics, and marketing products.
  • Challenges and Solutions: Inventory and supply chain management can be challenging remotely. Utilizing drop-shipping or third-party fulfillment services can alleviate these issues.
  • How to Find These Jobs: Create your own online store using platforms like Shopify or WooCommerce, or manage e-commerce for existing businesses.

Remote IT Support and Cybersecurity

  • Suitability: Ideal for individuals with technical skills in IT support and cybersecurity. You can assist clients with software, hardware, or security issues remotely.
  • Challenges and Solutions: Requires reliable internet connectivity and staying updated with the latest technology and security threats. Solutions include having backup connectivity options and continuous professional development.
  • How to Find These Jobs: Job boards like Indeed, Glassdoor, and specialized IT and cybersecurity job platforms.
  1. Virtual Assistant Services
    • Suitability: Good for organized individuals who can handle administrative tasks, scheduling, email management, and other support services.
    • Challenges and Solutions: Managing multiple clients and tasks can be challenging. Using time management and project management tools can help stay organized and efficient.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Freelance platforms like Upwork and dedicated virtual assistant job sites like Belay or Virtual Vocations.
  2. Remote Sales and Customer Service
    • Suitability: Suitable for those with excellent communication skills and a background in sales or customer service.
    • Challenges and Solutions: Time zone differences may require odd working hours. Flexible scheduling and creating a dedicated workspace can help manage this challenge.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Company career pages, LinkedIn, and job boards like Indeed or Monster often list remote sales or customer service positions.
  3. Project Management
    • Suitability: Perfect for those with experience in managing projects and coordinating teams. Knowledge of project management tools and methodologies is essential.
    • Challenges and Solutions: Leading remote teams can be complex due to differing time zones and a lack of face-to-face interaction. Utilizing robust project management software and maintaining clear communication can address these issues.
    • How to Find These Jobs: LinkedIn, project management professional networks, and job boards that specialize in remote work opportunities.

Each of these remote job options offers the flexibility required for a sailing lifestyle, allowing individuals to work from anywhere with an internet connection. The key is to find a balance between work that is fulfilling and sustainable while living aboard.

Marine-Based Income Streams

Man antifouling the underside of a sailboat
  1. Charter Services
    • Suitability: Ideal for sailors with a spacious boat and knowledge of local attractions. It’s perfect for hosting tourists or groups on day trips or longer excursions.
    • Challenges: Seasonality and weather dependence can affect income. Maintaining the boat and ensuring safety compliance is crucial.
    • Solutions: Diversify services (e.g., thematic tours, educational trips) and build a robust online presence to attract customers year-round.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Network in local marinas, join charter associations and advertise on platforms dedicated to boat charters and tourist experiences.
  2. Sailing Instruction
    • Suitability: For experienced sailors who can teach others. Being a certified instructor increases credibility and demand.
    • Challenges: Seasonal fluctuations in demand and the need for certification and insurance.
    • Solutions: Offer a range of courses, from beginner to advanced, and market them online and through local marinas and sailing clubs.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Get certified through recognized sailing organizations, then advertise services through sailing schools or set up an independent sailing instruction business.
  3. Photography and Videography
    • Suitability: For those with a passion for photography or videography, selling footage and photos, or offering services to film or photograph boats for sale, marinas, marine life, underwater landscapes, etc.
    • Challenges: Investing in high-quality, waterproof camera equipment and finding consistent work can be difficult.
    • Solutions: Diversify by offering services to scientific research teams, tourism companies, or media outlets. Create stock photography or video content.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Network with marine research institutions, dive operators, and tourism boards. Showcase work on social media and photography platforms.
  4. Marine Conservation and Research
    • Suitability: Ideal for individuals with a background in marine biology, environmental science, or related fields interested in contributing to marine conservation projects.
    • Challenges: Funding and grant availability can be inconsistent. Fieldwork can be demanding and often remote.
    • Solutions: Partner with universities, research institutions, or NGOs. Consider crowd-funded research projects or public speaking engagements to raise funds.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Connect with research institutions, conservation organizations, and funding bodies. Attend relevant conferences and workshops to network and learn about opportunities.
  5. Painting and Maintaining Boats in the Off-season
    • Suitability: Ideal for individuals with a knack for detail-oriented work and those familiar with boat materials and painting techniques. This role is perfect for those who enjoy working with their hands and have an appreciation for the aesthetics and maintenance of boats.
    • Challenges: The work is highly seasonal, with most demand during the off-season when boats are not in use. It requires knowledge of different types of boat surfaces and the appropriate paints and treatments for each.
    • Solutions: Offering a range of services, from minor touch-ups to full repaints, can cater to various customer needs and budgets. Providing maintenance packages, including regular inspections and minor repairs, can help stabilize income. Staying updated with the latest in eco-friendly and long-lasting paint options can also add value to your services.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Networking in local marinas and boat clubs is essential. Creating partnerships with boat sales and repair shops can provide a steady stream of referrals. Advertising your services on boating websites, forums, and social media platforms dedicated to boating enthusiasts will help increase visibility. Offering off-season discounts can attract boat owners planning for maintenance in advance.

These marine-based income streams allow individuals to capitalize on their unique skills and interests while living a seafaring lifestyle, offering both financial sustainability and the fulfillment of working closely with the marine environment.

Passive Income Strategies

sailboat anchored in beautiful aqua waters
  1. Rental Income
    • Suitability: For those who own property or other rentable assets. It’s a good option for sailors wanting a steady income without daily management.
    • Challenges: Managing property from afar can be tricky, and there can be periods of vacancy or maintenance issues.
    • Solutions: Hiring a property management company can alleviate the stress of remote management and ensure consistent rental income.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Invest in property in high-demand areas or consider platforms like Airbnb for shorter-term rentals. Use reputable property management services to handle day-to-day operations.
  2. Investments in Stocks and Bonds
    • Suitability: Suitable for those with some financial acumen or willingness to learn about the stock market. It can provide a diversified source of income.
    • Challenges: Market volatility can affect investment value. Requires ongoing monitoring and financial knowledge.
    • Solutions: Diversifying investments and using financial advisors or investment platforms can mitigate risks and manage portfolios effectively.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Research and invest through online brokerage platforms, consult with financial advisors, and educate yourself on financial markets and investment strategies.
  3. Affiliate Marketing
    • Suitability: Good for those with a strong online presence or an existing popular blog/website. You earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services.
    • Challenges: Requires significant traffic to be lucrative and finding the right affiliate partners that align with your audience.
    • Solutions: Focus on building quality content and a loyal audience. Use affiliate networks to find suitable partners and products to promote.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Join affiliate marketing programs like Amazon Associates, Commission Junction, or ShareASale, and integrate affiliate links into your content.
  4. Creating and Selling Digital Products
    • Suitability: Ideal for those with expertise in a particular area, such as courses, e-books, or software. It offers a way to generate income from your knowledge and skills.
    • Challenges: Requires upfront time and effort to create a high-quality product. Marketing and sales can also be challenging.
    • Solutions: Leverage online platforms like Udemy for courses or Amazon for e-books to reach a wider audience. Utilize digital marketing strategies to promote products.
    • How to Find These Jobs: Develop your digital products and use platforms like Teachable, Gumroad, or your own website to sell them.

These passive income strategies can provide a financial cushion and more freedom to enjoy the sailing lifestyle, reducing the need for active, daily work and allowing for a more relaxed and flexible lifestyle at sea.

Combining Income Strategies

Often, the solution to maximizing income while at sea is to combine multiple income streams.

For example, if you have an apartment, you might Airbnb it while working part-time in a remote role. Perhaps you can teach English online and build a blog, YouTube channel, or Instagram to generate affiliate marketing income. Or maybe you offer charters in the high season and supplement that income by painting or restoring boats in the off-season. By combining more than one income stream, sailors can become more resilient to fluctuating economic conditions and enjoy more sustainable, reliable income while they travel.

Managing Finances on the Go

Captain Kelli on the Sail Boat How to Make Money While Sailing Around the World: Jobs for Sail Life

Budgeting and Expense Tracking

  • Importance: While sailing, tracking expenses and sticking to a budget is crucial to ensure financial sustainability. Fluctuating costs, like marina fees and boat maintenance, need careful management.
  • Tools and Tips: Use budgeting apps like Mint, YNAB (You Need A Budget), or personal finance spreadsheets to monitor spending. Regularly review finances to adjust for unexpected expenses or savings opportunities.

Banking and Tax Considerations

  • Banking: Choose banks that suits your travel style. If sailing internationally use a bank that offers international services, low fees for foreign transactions, and online banking options. It’s essential to have access to your funds worldwide without excessive charges.

We Use Revolut

  • Taxes: Obligation and minimization strategy can be complex for those earning income in different countries or through various streams. It’s important to understand the tax regulations of your home country and any countries where you generate income.
  • Advice: Consult with a financial advisor or tax specialist who understands international finance and tax law. This can help ensure compliance and optimize tax obligations.

Successfully managing finances while sailing involves careful planning, the right tools, and staying informed about international banking and tax issues. This ensures a stable and worry-free adventure on the seas.

Challenges and Solutions

Girl watching the sunset from a sailboat while sailing in Montenegro

Overcoming Obstacles

Financial Fluctuations

  • Challenge: Income can be irregular, especially in jobs dependent on tourism or seasonal work.
  • Solution: Diversify income sources, maintain a robust emergency fund, and plan for off-season or lean periods financially.

Connectivity Issues

  • Challenge: Reliable internet is crucial for remote work but can be challenging at sea or in remote locations.
  • Solution: Invest in high-quality satellite internet, have multiple backup options (like local SIM cards), and plan work around connectivity availability.

Maintenance and Repair Costs

  • Challenge: Boats require constant maintenance, and unexpected repairs can be costly.
  • Solution: Regularly set aside funds for maintenance, learn basic repair skills to handle minor issues, and build a network with local mechanics in various ports.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance

  • Challenge: Navigating visa requirements, work permits, and business regulations across different countries.
  • Solution: Research and adhere to the legal requirements of each destination. Consult with legal experts in maritime and international law when necessary.

Adapting to Change

Economic Shifts

  • Challenge: Global economic changes can impact income, especially for those relying on international clients or markets.
  • Solution: Stay informed about global economic trends, adapt business strategies as needed, and diversify income streams to mitigate risks.

Changing Personal Circumstances

  • Challenge: Personal changes, such as family needs or health issues, can impact the ability to sustain the sailing lifestyle.
  • Solution: Maintain flexible work arrangements, ensure access to international health insurance, and have a contingency plan for returning to land if necessary.

The key to managing these challenges is flexibility, preparedness, and a willingness to adapt. Successful sailing nomads often highlight the importance of being ready to pivot their strategies in response to changing circumstances, both personal and global.

The dream of sailing around the world while making money is more attainable today than ever before, thanks to the digital age and the growing acceptance of remote work. This lifestyle epitomizes freedom and adventure but requires careful planning, adaptability, and financial savvy to sustain.

Embracing the sailing lifestyle while generating income is about balancing the allure of the open sea with the practicalities of everyday living. It demands a proactive approach to financial management, a willingness to adapt to changing circumstances, and an openness to new income opportunities.

For those drawn to the sea, the combination of living on a boat and working remotely or running a business offers an unparalleled sense of autonomy and fulfillment. By planning carefully, embracing flexibility, and innovating continuously, aspirants can turn the vast oceans into their home and office, exploring the world’s waters while ensuring financial stability and independence.

Resources and Further Reading

To assist those interested in pursuing a sailing lifestyle while making money, the following resources and platforms offer valuable information, tools, and support:

  1. Sailing Associations and Organizations
    • Examples: American Sailing Association or your local equivalent
    • Purpose: Provide certifications, training, and networking opportunities for sailors looking to upskill and get professionally qualified
  2. Online Platforms for Remote Work
  3. Financial Management Tools
  4. Travel and Sailing Blogs and Vlogs
    • Examples: Sailing La Vagabonde, SV Delos, Gone with the Wynns, This one
    • Purpose: Share experiences, tips, and insights about living and working on a boat.
  5. Books and Guides
  6. Online Courses and Webinars
    • Examples: Coursera, Udemy (for business and digital skills courses)
    • Purpose: Offer education and skill development for remote work and digital entrepreneurship.
  7. Investment and Financial Planning Resources

By leveraging these resources, aspiring sailing nomads can gain the knowledge, skills, and network needed to successfully navigate the journey of living and working on the seas. This guide serves as a comprehensive starting point for anyone looking to combine their love for sailing with the necessity of earning an income, ultimately achieving a sustainable and fulfilling maritime lifestyle.

Hopefully, we have been able to answer some of your questions and concerns about making money while living the sailing lifestyle and the many jobs that are compatible with sailing. If you have any other questions or thoughts, let us know below!