Life & LifestyleRetirement

Our Transition from a Home to a Floating Tiny House

Photos by Jim Hill ~ 

It was a cold weekend in mid-December — with temperatures in the low 30s — when my husband, Jim, and I headed to Annapolis, Maryland, to look at a 47-foot sailing catamaran.

We left our home in Virginia Beach before the sun came up and made it to Annapolis in time for cup of coffee before we met our yacht broker.

The boat we were about to tour was called Indigo, and we were giddy with anticipation and questions. Would she meet our expectations? Did she have everything on our “must-have” list? Would she be sea kindly and sail like a dream?

Our broker shared his enthusiasm over Indigo as we carefully made our way onboard. She certainly ticked all of our “must-haves.”

Over the course of the next two days, we went back to Indigo five times. Armed with a notebook, pen, and flashlight, we looked into every locker and space, searching out potential problems.

Heading back home, Jim and I discussed the pros and cons of Indigo, and how we planned to use a boat in the future. The return trip home sparked another conversation we’d had several times in the past: whether it was the right time to sell our home and downsize.

We took a leap of faith. We called our real estate agent and said we wanted to put the house up for sale. She agreed to meet us that evening to sign the papers.

Then we contacted our yacht broker and set up a time to go back up to Annapolis and look at Indigo again. When we did, we spent hours onboard the boat, making lists of things to fix.

Indigo was perfect for us. The following Sunday, we made an offer on Indigo — and it was accepted.

Our home was officially listed on March 1, and we received an offer that evening. We accepted the offer and toasted our next chapter!

Then the insanity began. We had six weeks to pack the house, close, and move. And we had nowhere else to live except onboard Indigo.

Downsizing is brutal, and it teaches you minimalism. With only 700 square feet of living space, everything has to have a place, and there is no room for anything but essentials. We rented a storage shed for the items we wanted to keep and began planning our move.

Life onboard is not that different from a house. We have power, water, and air conditioning; a bathroom with a separate shower, a comfortable queen size bed in the master stateroom, and plenty of room to spread out and relax. There is a small galley kitchen with a stove and oven, perfect for our needs.

Indigo underway scaled
The view from Indigo

One exciting thing about living on a boat is that the view is constantly changing. Most evenings, we relax on the deck with a glass of wine, watching the sun slide down to the horizon.

Living onboard a boat is very much like living in an RV. Our “road” is the ocean, and the wind is our power, taking us where we want to go. We’ve now spent winters amongst the islands of the Bahamas and the Florida Keys, and our summers chasing the best weather in the Chesapeake Bay.

Our new life challenged us and taught us simplicity. We meet fabulous people along our journey, and experience adventures every time we set sail.

We’re now always on an adventure — what a great way to spend our second act!


Betsi Hill

Betsi Hill is a freelance writer based in Florida. Along with her photographer husband Jim, they often are found traveling onboard Saltwater Gypsea through the islands of the Caribbean. They maintain an active presence on social media (@betsihill). The duo also shares their travel adventures on Betsi’s World.

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