Avoid Yachting's Golden Handcuffs | UAM Tips

2nd Nov 2020

Avoid being trapped by yachting’s golden handcuffs

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In our recent Life After Yachting webinar, we discussed how yachting’s infamous ‘golden handcuffs’ can make it difficult for crew to make a smooth transition from life onboard to life onshore. When you arrive on land and need to pay your way it can be tempting to do ‘just one more season’. This is especially true if you’ve neglected to manage things like savings and investments.

So, how can you better prepare for life on land and avoid being trapped by those handcuffs?

Have an exit strategy

This may sound obvious, but a surprising number of crew members don’t take the time to think seriously about what they want to do after yachting. They just know they’re ready to say goodbye to long stints at sea!

However, it’s important to carefully consider what you want to do once you’re back on land. Do you have several options for where you could live in the world or are those options limited? Do you have a business idea and you’re itching to get started? Are you keen to start a family as soon as you leave yachting?

Regardless of what you wish to do next, think seriously about setting some savings goals while you’re still onboard. It’s the first step in setting yourself up for a smooth ship-to-shore transition.

Set savings goals

Saving regularly can be a difficult habit to establish, and we all need a nudge in the right direction. However, the sooner you start saving, the better you will be in the long run and less stressed about your future.

In fact, there are at least 20 good reasons to start saving now. If you wait too long to start saving, you may need to work longer, perhaps in a job you no longer enjoy.

Therefore, think about setting short-term and long-term savings goals. Sit down and map them out. How much of your salary can you save every month? Can you commit to a regular savings plan? Do you have enough to purchase property as a place to move into when you leave yachting or as an investment?

According to our Crew Wellbeing Survey, 32% of Superyacht crew use property as a way of saving towards their future. If it’s something you’re interested in and regardless of the location you choose, you will need to start saving to cover the costs involved.

where do superyacht crew keep their savings

Property investment is often seen as the golden ticket to future financial freedom. This is sometimes true but not always the case.

You need to carefully consider the right time to buy based on your circumstances and whether there are additional costs if you’re not a resident of the country in which you choose to buy.

UAM crew property guide CTA

Either way, reviewing whether property investment is for you should be part of your documented financial plan. A good plan will help you to see clearly where you’re at now and what you need to do to save towards your goals. It will also help you to plan for your future transition out of the industry and to help you avoid those pesky golden handcuffs.

Save, save, save!

Once you have your exit strategy in place and clear goals in mind, you need to maximise your savings potential while you’re still working onboard.

Every yacht is different, so every crew salary differs depending on the size of the yacht and individual employment contracts. Real salaries also vary depending on a crew member’s certificates, training and years of experience in the industry.

With high wages and low expenses, there is great savings potential. For example, could you save 20% of your salary every month? Perhaps you could even save up to 50% of your salary while living onboard. How much quicker would that move you towards achieving your goals and keeping your exit strategy on track?

The table below shows how much you could contribute to your personal savings by putting aside 20% of your monthly pay:

Position Contribution to savings over 20 years  Total savings after 20 years based on 5% annual return 
Captain €504,000 €701,663
Chief Stewardess €225,600 €307,161
Deckhand €148,800 €200,170
Chef €240,000 €326,828
Engineer €264,000 €363,341

Source: Providence Life Limited

Prepare for life after yachting

We often hear from crew that one of the main reasons for why transitions back onshore don’t always go smoothly is because of a lack of money or lack of preparation, or both.

We’re keen to see this change as yachting presents a fantastic opportunity to not only enjoy the onboard life but also enjoy what comes next.

Regardless of when you plan to exit the industry, there are several important factors to consider, such as building an emergency fund, considerations for new business ventures and retirement planning.

We covered these and other essential things to think about in our recent Life After Yachting webinar and summarised them for you here.

We work with so many crew members to help plan their move from ship to shore, so if that’s you and you need some help, please get in touch.



Avoid being trapped by yachting’s golden handcuffs