Living on a Boat: The Reality

This is our ‘Narrowboat-style Wide Beam’ Boat at Northolt!

We bought a boat. To live on. Yes, I know – what the??!!

We had never even been on a boating holiday, let alone lived on one…

How did this occur to us? Well, we were looking to buy a place in London, hoping to get a mortgage of about £200k for a house. We came across one in Ladbroke Grove (v nice) for £250k with THREE bedrooms! We couldn’t believe it.. Anyway, it turned out to be a massive houseboat, and of course this got us thinking about this possibility.

Would living on a boat save us money? We were renting a flat in South Ealing for £850 per month, which amounted to £10,000 per year on rent ALONE. We found a boat for £75k, with a residential mooring (important), and when we looked at the ‘marine loan’ (like a mortgage for boats) we would only be paying back £600 per month, fixed rate, for only ten years! You can see much more in my response to an article published on Yahoo! below.

Yahoo! published an article here Ahoy There! Would Living on a Boat Save You Money? for which my response was:

Having bought a boat in November, I am still very happy on it. As we are using it as a ‘home’ before a ‘boat’, we chose a wide-beam, which is roomier than our previous flat!

One thing I have to add to this article is that you don’t HAVE to empty a chemical toilet. You can either opt for a boat with a chemical toilet, or just one with a sewage tank. Ours has a tank, and we go and get it emptied (by someone else!!) every 8 – 10 weeks.

Yes, the moorings are expensive – we are paying £4000 per year. For this we get a permanent mooring, a garden, use of a washing/drying machine, use of loos and showers (if needed, though we have these on the boat), free water and a fixed address (yes, we have the INTERNET and a landline).

It really is perfect, the neighbours keep to themselves but are very friendly and approachable, watching the wildlife particularly at this time of year, with the ducklings, goslings and signets, is great.

Also, this article says that ‘mortgages’ are expensive for a boat. Not necessarily! We borrowed £40k from a marine insurer (and it’s called a loan, not a mortgage) and are paying back little over £500 per month, fixed, for ONLY TEN YEARS! Fantastic. Prior to making this decision, I was looking at mortgages of £200k, with repayments I couldn’t think of making, for 35+ years.

There are a lot of costs. Do your research if you are thinking of doing it. The main costs are (based on my personal situation) (in London): Residential Mooring (£4000pa), Insurance up to £3m (in case of fire catching, spreads to other boats) (£670pa), Boat Safety Certificate (£300 every 4 years), Boat License (£500pa). In terms of what you’d think of as normal ‘bills’, we don’t pay for water, we pay £35 for a gas canister (but as we only use gas for cooking – we have a fire for heat – this only happens every 3 months), electricity is only billed to us when it hits above £70, and the rate has been pretty much the same as on a flat.

If you have any questions about living on a boat please feel free to comment! Here is a picture of our boat, ‘Mustang Sally’.