Living on a boat

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  • Anyone got any experience of boat living? (narrowboat or dutch barge)

    pitfalls, experiences, hardships, security, legal issues .. that sort of stuff really

    Been a sort of fantasy of mine for ages and there's a good chance I'll soon be in a position to make it happen ...

    ... but I want to know the reality of it before I pack in my cosy central heated flat and take the plunge (hopefully not literally)

  • it was something i looked into a while back but never had the courage to make the move... theres loads of info on the web and theres a 'residential boat owners club' with all you need to know...you'll find them on www.rboa.co.uk/

    hope that helps..

  • What is it about life on a boat that fascinates you?... the only thing that stopped me was that in gaining some freedom..i'd lose others...you have the freedom to travel...but not the freedom to spread... if that makes any sense...??

  • Quote from pabsy

    What is it about life on a boat that fascinates you?... the only thing that stopped me was that in gaining some freedom..i'd lose others...you have the freedom to travel...but not the freedom to spread... if that makes any sense...??


    I like water, I used to sail and generally like boats, I like the idea of being nomadic without living too basically, I like the peace and quiet you get along the tow path, I like the design and look of canal barges.

    Unfortunately there is sadness behind this ... My 94 year old grandad died last week after a stroke and 3 months in hospital ... being there for him over the years has been one of the main reasons I have never left London. :(

    Anyway, he has left me a share of his house in his will ... and I want to do something sensible with it. I'm not in the financial position to take over his house so it has to be sold.

    Therefore one of the possible plans is to use my share to live on a boat for a couple of years ... In the meantime I could buy my council flat, rent it out and then sell it for enough profit to buy a house somewhere out of London. (either that or emigrate to somewhere warmer and cheaper)

    I sound like a capitalist don't I?

  • Quote from Paul

    I sound like a capitalist don't I?




    no... you sound like you respect what hes left you.... I'm so sorry you lost your grandad.. but he would be happier knowing that what hes worked for all his life isnt going to be wasted away... go for it... theres nothing as magical as realising a dream....

  • Hi paul
    I now live on a narrowboat since sept this year and i love it. sold my house, have done most of boat fittin myself and got as far out of society as poss. its a fairly complex thing to start off with but once you're on and someway sorted its like travellin back in time.Of course the kind of person who likes all their sky tv channels, lots of luxuries, lots of socialising etc it wouldn't suit i guess!! its easy to keep warm in winter and well summer, you can guess how ace that is. cant recomend it highly enough to be honest. And its cheap as chips :cool:

  • Quote from phil

    Hi paul
    I now live on a narrowboat since sept this year and i love it. sold my house, have done most of boat fittin myself and got as far out of society as poss. its a fairly complex thing to start off with but once you're on and someway sorted its like travellin back in time.Of course the kind of person who likes all their sky tv channels, lots of luxuries, lots of socialising etc it wouldn't suit i guess!! its easy to keep warm in winter and well summer, you can guess how ace that is. cant recomend it highly enough to be honest. And its cheap as chips :cool:


    Thank you

    What about security?

    If I went for the type of licence that meant I kept on moving and didn't need a proper mooring how much would I need to worry about theft etc?

  • Well in my opinion there's not really much to nick to be honest, little portible telly and thats about it!! I take your point though, but what is safe really nowadays, i dont think its anymore likely than a house being broke into! The best thing is to always moor with other boaters, safety in numbers etc. I also have a dog and a bat just in case!! But alas as with anything, you take your chances!!

  • I also looked into it quite extensively last year after selling my house. Fitted boats can cost a bomb if already done up!! But you can buy sailaways which are a basic hull which is lined, and an engine, which then you do out yourself, which I was going to do!! That is a much cheaper option, or you can buy just the hull which is even cheaper!!

    There are loads of boat yards selling boats on line just do a search. Moorings are hard to come by to a degree but you can do the move every two weeks thing if you can't get a mooring but I hear that is getting harder too!!

    Wooden hulls are hard to get insured for, although a friend of mine has two that he is hoping to work but they are collectors pieces apparently!!

    I think it is cheaper than house dwelling but you have to remember that every few years you will need to paint the hull and that means dry docking and a bit of money spent!!

    Apparently you can even get mortgages to buy canal boats now but I think the interest rates are quite high.

    Anyway there is loads of info on line just do a search!! If I hadn't of met Stonesy I would probably be on the canal now but hey no regrets what so ever!!:)

  • Quote from phil

    I also have a dog and a bat



    hehehe i thought you meant the animal.... was trying to work out how you would keep a bat in a barge :whistle:

  • Quote from samsimillia

    hehehe i thought you meant the animal.... was trying to work out how you would keep a bat in a barge :whistle:





    oh lol... that thought crossed my mind too but as i'm trying hard to sound intelligent i didnt want to be the first to mention it......comforting to know i wasnt the only one scratching my head!...:o

  • Well, if it was dark having a bat flapping around your head whilst you're trying to rob someone could be a tad annoying don't ya think? Haven't you guys seen Batman?!? :rolleyes:


    Sorry to hear about your Grandad Paul, if you showed him as much love as you appear to have for him he was a lucky man. I hope you're ok and dealing as well as you can. :) That all rhymed!

  • my freins live on a boat the only prob was it hadnt been used for living on before so theyve had to do the most important fings like insalation and putting in a burner {i had to run away when they were making a whole in the roof hehe) the only problem i can see with boating life is boating people you know the middle class ones who look down there noses at you!Theres alot of them about but the folk who actually live on there boats in my experienc have been very freindly :)

    Hope it all goes well its so important to live your dreams and i fink when you loose someone very close to you it gives you a kick up the ass when you realise how short life is.My dad always wanted to live on a bus but unfortunately died before he managed to now im living the dream:hippy:

    many love filled sparkles x

  • This is something I have been looking to doing for a while as some of you know but as I live in Brighton the places to moor are very limited....middlesex is full of boat living people tho ,at the moment I am not in a position to move area so may buy a sailing boat that I can live on at the weekends......for now I am just undertaking my day skipper course :D

  • I've now looked at 5 different narrowboats and not sure what to do. I'm almost in a position to buy but I'm also all too aware of the restrictions to space and comfort.

    The problem is, I don't want to look out of my window and see a shitload of other boats, which is usually the thing if you have a residential mooring. The real appeal is boating on a continuous cruising licence, but then you are limited because you have to be truly self sufficient in terms of fuel and communications/internet.

    Plus there is the security factor ... would I really want to leave all my worldly goods moored up in a desolate spot with no other boaters about to keep an eye out?

    Difficult decision.

    These are three that I've looked at:








    And the best so far is this one, not the most attractive, but the best interior layout

  • Persoanlly I wouldnt go for a narrow barge but a wide beam .....you could end up falling out with yourself in a space of minutes due to limited space....also is the boat river worthy or are you destined to one spot? I know of people who have had to hire trailers to move .....hence my easter weekend spent doing silly activiities to renovate a canal

  • Quote from Flibbertigibbet

    Persoanlly I wouldnt go for a narrow barge but a wide beam .....you could end up falling out with yourself in a space of minutes due to limited space....also is the boat river worthy or are you destined to one spot? I know of people who have had to hire trailers to move .....hence my easter weekend spent doing silly activiities to renovate a canal


    I've looked at dutch barges and other widebeam boats. Firstly the licence, safety certificates and mooring fees are higher. Secondly they can't navigate all the canals, they can do a lot of them but they're often restricted by narrow locks.