Three things to consider before living on a narrowboat

Living on a narrowboat can seem like an enticing prospect. There are plenty of potential benefits, including downsizing, gaining freedom and enjoying the benefits of spending more time in nature.

It’s not a small change to make, though, and there are some important issues for you to weigh up before you jump on board.

In this article, we’ll explore three things to consider before living on a narrowboat.

The costs

Many newcomers to the narrowboat life think that buying the vessel itself is the main cost of their new lifestyle. But there are several costs of living on a narrowboat that go beyond the expense of the initial purchase, including:

  • Residential mooring: The exact cost depends on your boat’s size and the mooring location but, in general, you could be looking at anything between £3,000 and £18,000 on an annual basis.
  • Fuel: Covering both transportation and heating, fuel is another costly aspect of life on a narrowboat.
  • Maintenance: Boat parts and labour can be significantly more expensive than maintenance of a house. You can fend off some of these costs by learning to carry out your own repairs but you’re still better off enlisting a professional for trickier jobs.

The mooring location

Finding the right location to moor your narrowboat can be a serious challenge, so it’s best to look into this before making a purchase.

If you need to live in a particular place – for your job or your studies, for example – then you’ll definitely need a residential mooring. Demand for these far exceeds supply but you might find it easier to buy a boat together with a residential mooring from a seller.

Be aware that while you can moor alongside a canal town path in designated short-term moorings, these usually only run up to a maximum of two weeks before you need to move on. Moreover, there are minimum distances that prevent you from moving to another short-term spot in the same area.

The lifestyle

Life on a narrowboat is very different to living on land. Yes, you’ll feel more free and enjoy a more relaxed pace of life but you’ll also have many extra jobs that you need to do in order to maintain a narrowboat. A big chunk of your daily time will be devoted to tasks like collecting fuel, filling your water tanks and emptying toilet tanks.

Living afloat even goes beyond being a lifestyle. As you become a part of the community, you’ll start to notice that it’s becoming a part of your identity. Your friends, family and even the authorities will begin to look at you differently. That being said, you’ll discover lots of rewarding new friendships and experiences along the way.

Living on a narrowboat isn’t just a change of location. It’s a fundamental change to the way you live your life – and it’s not for everyone. Consider the points above before making any decisions and, if you’re still not sure, why not try before you buy? You’ll get a far better idea of what life on a narrowboat is like.