The Dive Otter

Is Scuba Expensive?

Like any hobby or sporting activity...you can make it VERY expensive.

...here we must stop and have a fairly lengthy discussion on value for money. You can't really go diving on the cheap if you want to own your own gear. And how do you know if it's worth investing in your own gear? At the end of the day...it all comes down to how much disposable income you have to spend on your hobby. Can you afford to spend $500 on a new rod and reel to go bass fishing? Or are you heading to Walmart and spending $50 on a new one? Nothing wrong with either...but be honest with yourself on how much you are going to do it and how much convenience matters.

The cheapest you can get into diving with your own NEW gear is truthfully ~$2,000. The local rental prices in Chicago are ~$100/day for appropriate exposure gear and basic equipment. Basic Return-On-Investment (ROI) math tells you that if you plan to do >20 dives in the next 5 years...you would be better off buying your own gear. ($2,000 / $100 = ~20 days of diving). I'm generally against financing purchases, but if you want to justify $100/month of financing instead of renting...that wouldn't be a bad argument.

However, let's break down a couple different hobbies/sporting activities I personally have participated in the past 10 years and see how comparatively expensive they can be.

To do this we will have to agree on the basic analysis, which I would consider to be:

ActivityStart Up CostsAnnual CostCost 5 YearsCost 10 years
Scuba$2,900$1,600$12,460$20,460
Bass Fishing$770$170$1,620$2,470
Golf$1,750$2,106$14,386$23,166

So what did we learn? Scuba is certainly more expensive than Bass Fishing and slightly less expensive than Golfing. Scuba has a higher initial cost to begin than both because of the technical nature of the equipment, but has less annual cost than golf because of the green fees. So anyone who says Scuba diving is an expensive hobby should qualify compared to what?

Recreational Scuba Diving

Generally speaking to do this on a consistent basis in Chicagoland would mean you were diving twice ("2 tank dive") once a week...probably Saturday, and not during the winter months. So we will go with 26 times a year. To be "reasonable" we will also assume you purchased the full kit of basic stuff excluding tanks.
CostJustification
Equipment$2,300See Basic Gear analysis
Training$600See How to Begin
One Year$1,30026 x $20 ($20 for air fills)
26 x $30 dive park entry fee
Annual Maint.$300Reg, BCD, VIP for 2 tanks, etc
First Year$4,460Does not include annual maintenance because it is the first year
Two Years$6,060$4,460 + $1,600 (annual items)
Five Years$12,460$4,460 + ($1,600 x 5)
10 Years$20,460$4,460 + ($1,600 x 10)

Pond or Bank Bass Fishing

Well actually...I have a bass fishing education portal as well so this analysis has also been done. You can see that here if you wish. Like scuba diving above, we will assume this is a once a week activity and not during the winter months.
CostJustification
Equipment$750$600 for 3 rod/reel combos and $150 in tackle
Training$0A ton of YouTube videos and my bass fishing portal
One Year$20Fishing license
Annual Maint.$170$150 tackle/plastic baits and a fishing license
First Year$770Equipment + license
Two Years$940$770 + $170 (annual items)
Five Years$1,620$770 + ($170 x 5)
10 Years$2,470$770 + ($170 x 10)

Golfing

Same as before, we will assume this is a once a week activity and not during the winter months.
CostJustification
Equipment$1,000Clubs, bag, shoes and glove
Training$7505x 1 hour lessons with a pro
One Year$1,950Green Fees $75 for 18 holes
Annual Maint.$1561 sleeve of balls per 18 holes so 78 balls a year @ $2 a piece
First Year$3,856
Two Years$5,962$3,856 + $2,106 (annual items)
Five Years$14,386$3,856 + ($2,106 x 5)
10 Years$23,166$3,856 + ($2,106 x 10)