When we set sail in June of 2010 I had planned to keep a detailed record of our live aboard costs.
Well, thanks to my very poor job of provisioning we were barely a week into our trip when I threw that whole idea over board. I'm like an ostrich in that respect. If something makes me unhappy I'd prefer to just stick my head in the sand and ignore it.
The longest trip we'd ever made on the Knotty Cat was the week we sailed her from Boston to Annapolis, and I was fortunate enough to use our rental car to shop at some pretty cheap grocery stores.
For the next two years when we would go to the boat for long weekends, we would just shop at the local Safeway and off we'd go!
What I hadn't bargained on was the fact that cheap stores were never close to our anchorages and they were too far for us to walk to. So I had to get used to markets where hamburger was $5.00/lb, and not being able to find the right dog food.
Two years later.
It took me a while (but then I'm a slow learner) to realize that liveaboard costs are going to be the same as living on land costs. Basically, you'll spend what you can afford.
You can spend your life at anchor (free for the most part). You can live in a marina (rent). Or you can do a little of both.
Living in a marina is like living in an apartment. You either go to the deluxe one with the golf course and tiki bar or you go to the one that doesn't. You can keep your car to get around or rely on public transportation and a bicycle. We have a pit bull with us so needless to say I'm glad we have our car.
For extended cruising it really does pay to stock up on dry goods, canned food, and beer. Bottled juice is a lot cheaper in the states too and when we went to the Bahamas I regretted that I didn't take more. A $3.00 bottle here was $10..00 there. Ouch. Rum was cheaper. Yay!
So that's about it. Sometimes you'll find huge bargains that will then be cancelled out by expensive items and all you can do is go with the flow.