Living Aboard a Boat – Marina del Rey, CA

Here are a few places to start your search about living on a boat (regulations may have changed… so, definitely verify all info):

Live-aboards in Marina del Rey must comply with County Code 19.12.1110, which prohibits a person from using a vessel as an abode in excess of three days within any one-week period, unless authorized by the dockmaster where the boat is anchored, and issued a live-aboard permit by the Harbormaster at the L.A. County Sheriff Department. It is completely within the discretion of the local dockmaster as to if and whether a live-aboard situation will be authorized in any particular marina. 

A permit will only be issued by the L.A. County Sheriff Department Harbormaster upon compliance with the following:
(1) Compliance with the requirements of seaworthiness as described in County Code 19.12.1060.
(2) Installation of a federally approved marina sanitation device of self-contained portable toilet approved by the Harbor Master.
(3) Proof of authorization by the dockmaster.

Live-aboard permits are valid for a period of one year.

Tips on finding a live-aboard:

  1. Approach yacht clubs, depending on the club they may own the marina near them and while these yacht clubs may be expensive to join, they may  know of certain members that might want to rent their vessel.  Conversely, you could also dock your vessel as the slip rents may be cheaper and the facilities would be a nice added bonus. 
  2. Start learning to sail. The best way is to start racing, you will meet a ton of people and get invited to the parties after a race which usually take place at a yacht club. Knock on every door and have a drink at every yacht club.
  3. Go to every applicable marina and ask the harbor master about their liveaboard policy.
  4. Then try to get on every wait list that you possibly can.
  5. Check these links below out too:

Sail Net 

Marina Harbor Anchorage

Yacht World – Buy a boat

Airbnb House Boat Rentals

Rent a Boat

Vacation Rentals: Houseboats

Marina del Rey Yacht Clubs

Great Article from the Patch about the Quest to Live on a Boat in the Marina:

An actress friend of mine, Deborah Williams, didn’t know what to do. For a few months, she had been living on a sailboat in Marina del Rey enjoying life on the water. When one of her dock neighbors had come on to her a bit too strongly she got tired of fending off his flirting and turned him down flat. Within two days she found a notice on the boat accusing her of being an illegal live aboard, despite the fact that she had faithfully paid rent to the boat owner every month.

Since I knew the dock master, I brought her with me to discuss the situation. He was unbending, insisting that she move, although he did look away while she found a place to stay – this time onto a Catalina 38 that was registered as a legal live aboard.

Another one of my friends, who works in aerospace, is as he puts it, a “sneak aboard,” a situation he’s maintained for at least the 16 years I’ve known him. He lives on a well maintained 40-foot Hunter. He keeps a berth on board for his teenage daughter when she visits him on weekends. Responsible, unofficial live aboards are tolerated by some dockmasters because they can help keep an eye on things.

Unfortunately, some live aboards have abused the situation. One of my former dock neighbors is a disabled, ex-city employee. He legally lives on a cabin cruiser that is so overloaded that it looks as if it will swamp. The deck is strewn with gear. It’s washed only by the rain and the vessel never leaves the slip.

Here’s the reality: Live aboard slips in Marina del Rey are getting increasingly harder to find. There are two ways to live on a boat in the marina. The first is to rent. If you respond to an ad on Craig’s List or elsewhere to move onto a boat, announce your intention to meet with the dockmaster just to introduce yourself. If you get a negative response from the skipper, the liveaboard probably isn’t legal, either because it isn’t allowed at all or living on that boat is limited to the skipper.

The other option is to move your own boat into a live aboard slip, or ask your current dockmaster for live aboard status. Expect a higher slip fee since you’ll be using more electric power and water than a weekend visitor. Guidelines are in flux. Despite live aboards on shorter boats in my old marina, the dockmaster there won’t allow anybody new to move onto a boat unless its 40 feet or longer.

Here’s a list of local marinas to use for your initial calls  Don’t forget to call the yacht clubs. They just might have a few live aboard slips available for members – even on a temporary basis.

If you’re on the verge of a divorce or retirement and see living aboard a boat as a viable, affordable housing option, I suggest getting on a waiting list. As Marina del Rey cuts its number of slips , expect it to become even more difficult to be allowed to live on your own boat.

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Showing 19 comments
  • Susan Gierga


    I live in San Diego. My company has offered me a promotion and a move to Santa Monica. I will need to find housing but in the meantime my husband and I would like to moore our 38-foot Hans Christian sail boat at Marina Del Ray and liveaboard.

    Will you help me find a marina that takes liveaboards? Please.

    • kirstinwillingham

      Hi Susan,

      Will shoot you an email with some different mooring options. Welcome to the marina 🙂


      • Cameron

        Me too! Need help!

      • Lukasz


        I would like to know ask for those informations as well.
        Im looking for to liveaboard in Marina Del Ray.

        All the best and thank you.

      • John J

        I’m on a live aboard in Marina Del Rey now.38 foot slip call me

    • Dylan

      Hi Susan,

      Would you be looking to rent the boat for someone to live on once you & your husband find a place? If so, I’d be interested in speaking.


  • Fabian

    Is there any boat i can rent to live in? If so i would like to have information Thanks.

  • David Spain

    I’m looking for a yacht to rent for 12 months and live aboard in marina del Rey
    Where would I start looking?

  • Jhon

    The ideal place for those who need the overnight stay for those people who work in this area (the most expensive area of the city).
    Luxury sailboat in excellent condition. You cannot be here during the day, only at night.
    Nearby there are: gas station, shops, beach, bars etc.

    With all questions – write to me here or to the mail:

  • Wayne

    Hi I am interested in buying a sailboat maybe about a 36 foot and keeping it in marina del Rey and learning how to sail. I live in Denver but would like to come out for like 5 days every 2 months and sail and stay aboard what about a yacht club there? Any help?

  • Jay

    Is there such a thing as buying a slip in the Los Angeles area? I live in New Mexico and I would like to have a getaway place for a few days a month. Renting a slip is an option, but buying would be super cool.

    • kirstinwillingham

      The marina is on leased land. You’d be buying into the dock but paying rent to the land owner (the county). That’s a good question though! I’d reach out to one of the yacht clubs around here and ask their dockmaster.

  • Jacques toulet

    I am French American for 50 years veteran once I was a chef all my life had a business in Santa Monica for 20 years I am separating from my wife after 50 years and like to fine a place by the wAteri paid if possible 400.00 to 600.00 a month I still have a ski boat and old motor home if you be kind enough to help me my ph is 310805881 1047

  • Jerry Fish

    Greetings! I have a 2012 Searay Sundance. I am going to be traveling out of the country and I was interested in renting or leasing my boat for live aboard.

    Does anyone k ow if a Marina that will allow live aboard to someone other than the owner or immediate family? I have heard there is a big demand from people who would like to live on a boat/yacht? Thanks!

    • James Sampson

      Did you find someone to rent your live aboard you mentioned in your post? I would love to discuss the possibility with you if there’s still an opening. I am a retired Veteran that is also on the board of directors of a disabled veteran sailing organization out of MDR and I am looking for a live aboard rental situation at this time.

      ~ ~ Cheers

      James Sampson USAF Ret

    • Jessica Heredia

      Hi Jerry
      I live in Marina Del Rey in Mariners Village. I’m working on my captains license at Blue Pacific and I’m looking to rent a boat/yacht for 3-4 months. This would be to use at leisure and practice not to live on.

  • Steve Wesson

    I am looking for a live aboard opportunity for the following dates: 2/1/2022 to 4/30/2022.


  • Lila Karlsen McNutt

    Hi Jerry:
    I am a lifelong yachtswoman and will be working in Los Ángeles starting Nov. 1 for 6-12 months. Interested in renting a live aboard. Knowledgeable about boat maintenance & will take care of your boat like is was my own! If you’re still looking for a good tenant, email Thanks!

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