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to consider living in a canal boat?

(109 Posts)
TheSeventhHorcrux Thu 14-Mar-13 19:07:35

OH and I are saving and saving to buy land and build (and maybe for me to set up a business) and he would like to move from our rented house to a canal boat (we live near a lot of canals).
It would definitely save money though there would be certain sacrifices but I can't help but think that it would be a bit of a laugh...
We're in our mid-twenties and don't have any responsibilities, it could be a lot of fun (?)
AIBU to seriously think about it or have I got some extremely rose-tinted glasses on?

SevenAteNine Thu 23-Apr-15 21:26:25

I've lived on a boat for years and years and years. Tomorrow, I complete on my first house.

Not that I mean to put you off, just a few things you need to know.

1. It isn't cheap. You can get by on very little in the summer, but a lot in the winter. Maintenance is about twice the cost of a decent sized house. Assuming a 35' narrowboat, you will be paying about:

£800 a year for license (the equivalent of road tax)
£150 a year for blacking.
£1000 a year for fuel (coal and diesel)
£3000 a year for general maintenance,
£800-£6000 a year for moorings.

The running costs are based on my 11 years of owning a 35' narrowboat. License fees are going up, and so are fuel costs. You could do some of the maintenance yourself if you are handy, but probably not the welding. My boat is currently being overplated and having its diesel tank repaired at a cost of £5,400.

Land on the canalside is limited, expensive and you will have planning issues if you want to use it residentially. You will need very, very deep pockets if you can find a piece of land.

I don't want to be negative, but this is the biggest shock to people. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a boat you can't afford to fix. Especially if you're somewhere you don't like.

2. Boats don't appreciate in value like houses. They depreciate like cars. Prices are inflated at the bottom end of the market because people are desperate to use them for housing. You won't get a good boat at £8,000.

3. You will need to have a mooring unless you're willing to move once a fortnight. Canal and River Trust have brought out new cruising guidelines and will in future refuse to issue licenses to people who don't comply. You will eventually lose your boat if you don't license it. There are non-residential moorings which you may be able to stay on unofficially (but councils are getting stricter about this). There are proper residential moorings, which you will pay rates and a high price for. Residential moorings are the only ones that have security of tenure - you can be thrown off them, have your rent doubled etc. without any protection in law like you would if you rented a house.

4. It's marvellous, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. :-)

mandy214 Sun 12-Apr-15 19:12:02

My friends lived on their parents barge for a year to save the deposit for a house. They were a couple in their 20s, effectively living rent free with miniscule bills. They saved tens of thousands of pounds in 12 months.

Would I have done it? Absolutely. Good luck OP

parallax80 Sun 12-Apr-15 19:04:23

(We have Egyptian geese as well as Canadian but they're a lot quieter than the babies. Or at least I'm not programmed to notice!)

parallax80 Sun 12-Apr-15 19:03:08

I live on a barge with 3 kids under 2.5, we have a residential mooring and therefore a proper address (and get tescos to deliver!!), PM me if I can be of help

BackOnPlanetEarth Sun 12-Apr-15 18:58:05

Meh, it's not the rats that would bother me it's the wretched Canadian geese.

HONK, HONK, HONK, HONK, HONK and it's not just the honking it's the pooing too.

AlpacaLypse Sun 12-Apr-15 17:33:43

There's a boy in this house right now who lives on a canal boat (at Bedwyn on the K & A) and attends secondary school. As the boat is permanently moored in catchment he got a place just like anyone else.

MrsTerryPratchett Sun 12-Apr-15 16:51:49

Haven't RTFT blush but my parents lived on a houseboat on the Seine when they were considerably cooler than me young. 'Damp' was their review. grin

toffeeboffin Sun 12-Apr-15 16:47:34

Do it, OP! Sounds like an awesome idea grin especially when you are in your twenties.

nellynoo13 Sat 11-Apr-15 22:06:59

I will check it out once we finally get a boat and get on board. We definitely plan to cruise, especially whilst kids are not at school plus plan to home ed until my eldest is at least 6yrs so have a couple of years to play with. Just thinking getting a mooring whilst we find our feet may be a good plan plud hubby needs to be working.
I must say reading about different kinds of moorings and regulations is s bit daunting but I suppose it's a big change for us....v exciting though. Oh and lochs look a bit daunting but once we crack them im sure they will become familiar ;-). Northamptonshire keeps popping up...nice? ? Thanks for your info xx

rembrandtsrockchick Sat 11-Apr-15 20:00:50

Ah...the Kennet and Avon. We spent the winter of 2013/14 at the Cain Hill marina. We traversed the K n A twice and are now in the fens. Lovely canal but some of the locks are hard work.

We moved onto a boat when the boys were 16 and 18 but had spent many years with sailing boats prior to that.

I know several couples who live aboard with children and most of them love it.

It helps if you actually cruise the boat too, rather than just treat it as a house on the water.

The elder boy now lives on a beautiful dutch sailing barge (no children yet) and the younger one lives ashore but has a sailing boat (three very young children).

You will need to be adaptable, inventive with problem solving and willing to go with the flow!


PS...if you get the chance to do the Cain Hill Flight do so. They are the easiest locks on the whole canal, there is lots of help if you need it and it's great fun too.

londonrach Fri 10-Apr-15 15:01:23

Got a friend living on a canel boat. Its amazing life. Canel fork are very friendly. I never forgotten sitting on their boat and it was raining outside but we were snug as a bug in a rug. Go for it!

nellynoo13 Fri 10-Apr-15 14:54:19

Hi remsbrantrockchick
We are not on board yet but hope to be on the Avon and Kennet canal once we have found 'the' boat. Did your children move onto their own boat because they were brought up on one? I'm desperate to hear others experiences :0) x

expatinscotland Wed 08-Apr-15 13:54:21

Sounds fantastic! I'd do it in a second.

loveareadingthanks Wed 08-Apr-15 13:51:11

I spent a whole year living crammed in one small room with all my possessions. It's amazing what you can do without when you don't have space to fill up. This is the perfect time for something like this. It's not forever...if you don't like it, sell up.

5Foot5 Wed 08-Apr-15 13:30:39

The query was about the clvicord not the aga. Blooming bold didn't work.

5Foot5 Wed 08-Apr-15 13:29:47

"Aga. Posh bathroom. Insulation. Mains electricity.*Clavicord.*"
Does that come as standard?

CuttedUpPear Wed 08-Apr-15 11:42:25

Checking in to look at Seeker's boatsmile

rembrandtsrockchick Wed 08-Apr-15 11:21:09

Hello Nelly. I'm a mum who lives on a boat though my kids are are now in their forties and have their own boats.

I think you are going to love it! There will be lots of other parents doing the same thing.

Whereabouts are you based?

nellynoo13 Wed 08-Apr-15 09:43:53

Hi. Do any mums live on canal boats on here? We are looking to move onto a widebeam with my two little ones so am looking to connect/chat with other mums who live aboard. Thank you :0) xx

fedupandknackered Fri 11-Apr-14 21:53:53

pm'd you

Radigund Fri 11-Apr-14 21:49:37

I'm a single mum looking to change life and live on a canal boat with my 12 year old son. My only concern is how would my son go to school as though he is in Secondary School year 7 we need to move 30 miles to start this new lifestyle and will have no permanent address to register, can any one offer advice on this .....

ivykaty44 Sat 16-Mar-13 14:05:23

if you don't have a residentail mooring - which cost a bit - then you will be of no fixed abode, this is fine but for things like driving licence, insurance and banking it can be a problem not have a fixed abode.

If you can get someone else to say you live at their place and use their address you will be fine

VerySmallSqueak Sat 16-Mar-13 14:00:27

That is encouraging to know Xiaoxiong.

Now I just need to somehow get the money....

Xiaoxiong Sat 16-Mar-13 13:18:00

Yes seeker she is a beaut - now I want to put pictures of mine up too and have a beauty contest wink ours has a black hull, red uppers, hammerite silver rails and wooden decking on the stern deck. Skylights so it's lovely and bright inside.

We don't have an aga, just a woodburner and electric heaters on timers. Our neighbours have diesel central heating and it wasn't insulated well and stank to high heaven.

Maintenance and costs are nothing compared to a real house...since moving onto dry land I think our expenses have tripled!

Selks Sat 16-Mar-13 02:33:52

Seeker your boat is amazing! smile

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