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The REAL Cost Of Living On A Narrowboat

I’ve lived on my own narrowboat James now for two and a half years. I moved onto a boat almost out of desperation after the breakdown of my marriage and the failure of my business. I needed somewhere cheap to live. I couldn’t afford the rent for even a modest flat and a house of my own was totally out of the question.

The REAL Cost Of Living On A NarrowboatJames was in a sorry state, but the rent was cheap and the boat was moored at the marina where I work. On 2nd April 2010 I moved the few possessions that I had brought with me from my marital home into the forty eight feet long, 6’10” wide cabin of a damp and neglected 62′ narrowboat.

I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. I didn’t know the first thing about boats or how to maintain them. I didn’t even know if there was any heating on board, nor did I realise how cold a boat could be when it’s made of steel and floats on icy water. Unfortunately, the heating wasn’t very effective. The stove needed some TLC before it would work at all, the radiators that were fed by the stove’s back boiler were filled with a thick black sludge and electric radiator in the rear cabin wouldn’t work because it wasn’t connected to the mains supply.

None of this was particularly useful during my first winter on board.

The winter of 2010/11 was the worst on record. One night the temperature dropped to a decidedly chilly minus eighteen. The following morning the inside of the engine room, which is separated from my bedroom by an uninsulated ply pane, was coated with a quarter of an inch of frost. The temperature in my bedroom was just above freezing.

During my first few months on board I discovered that I needed to be a little more organised that I had when I lived in a house. More than once I ran out of gas, electricity, coal and water (fortunately, not all at the same time).

When I ran out of water I was fortunate enough to have a supply just a hose length away on the pontoon, but filling the tank meant half an hour under the stars on a frosty night.

Replenishing my coal, electricity and gas supply wasn’t really a problem either as I could always buy another bag of coal, gas cylinder or electricity card from the marina office the following day. But in the early days I wasn’t sure how long anything was going to last me or how much these essential supplies were going to cost me each month.

I kept records of everything I spent. Record keeping was a legacy of my business ownership days. I continued to record my expenditure as the months and the years passed. I still do.

James is moored at the marina where I work. The staff there have a wealth of boating experience. I’ve learned a huge amount about narrowboats over the last two and a half years both from them and from my own experience as I’ve wrestled with the practicalities of life on board.

I would like you to learn from my experience. I’ve produced this guide for you if you are considering buying a narrowboat to live on. Here’s what’s inside…

  • Buying your boat: I’ve started with the purchase of your boat and with the additional expenses that might not have occurred to you. I’ve listed the best places to look for a boat both on line and off-line and how much you can expect to pay for it. I’ve also explained the limitations of length and style. You need to read this before you start to look for your own boat.
  • Finding a mooring: The type of mooring you choose will depend upon your boat’s purpose. Are you going to use your narrowboat for occasional cruising, as a static home, or as a waterways motor home? Different moorings and their costs are explained in detail.
  • MOT, Tax & Insurance: The waterways equivalent anyway. All the costs are explained and where you can find the latest license fees, how often you need to have a safety check done on your boat and what it’s likely to cost you.
  • Utilities: Water, electricity and gas. You take them for granted in a house or a flat, but what do you do about these essentials when you’re afloat and how much do they cost?
  • Other Costs: Much as you’ll love the peace and tranquility on board your new boat, you’ll want to keep in touch with the outside world. I’ll tell you the best way to connect to the internet and how much it will cost, the best mobile network to use, whether you need to pay for a television license (sometimes you don’t), sewage disposal, council tax and the amount of propulsion fuel your 15-20 tonne boat is likely to use.

You could spend endless days and weeks trying to find this information on other boating sites and forums. If you do, I wish you the best of luck. I spent two years searching and I still haven’t found it anywhere else. You can do the research yourself, or you can buy a very useful low cost guide to keep for reference.

Your narrowboat is likely to be your single most expensive purchase after your house. You need to make sure that you are fully aware of the costs involved before you commit yourself. This essential guide will put your mind at rest. You’ll know how much your dream of living a life afloat will really cost you… and whether you can afford it. You really can’t do without it, but don’t just take my word for it. Here’s what a few people have to say about the guide…

“A huge thanks for all your information. I’ve found it invaluable and real insight to the idea of living on a narrowboat.  Both my husband and I are very keen to start this lifestyle; however, we have to wait until eldest child is out uni and we have just the youngest to worry about.  So a couple of years away from the dream.” Emma


“Thanks for the really useful information about the cost of living on the canals.”  Richard.
“I cannot tell you how useful your information has been to me. Your Narrowboat Costs series has certainly helped with the on-going decision-making process, so thank you very much.”Liza
“What a brilliant collection of information. You have helped me a lot. Thanks again.”Terry
“Thanks ever so much for sending me your Narrowboat Costs information. I’m at the very early stages of thinking about the possibility of living on a narrowboat, and reading your series is a brilliant way to get a sound introduction. I’ll let you know how I get on when I’ve had more time to go through the details.” Simon

So how much is a comprehensive guide that will help you to make an informed decision about the largest purchase you’re ever likely to make after your house? A guide that will help you decide whether a complete change of lifestyle and environment is right for you?

That’s all. The price of a cup of coffee and a Danish, or a pint and half in a canal side pub. What’s more, I’ll give you a cast iron guarantee. If, after you’ve read the guide, you don’t think that the information has helped you to make an informed decision about your narrowboat purchase, just let me know. I will willingly refund you the full amount with no hard feelings and no questions asked. You can even keep the guide. Does that sound fair?

Satisfaction Guarantee

Just click on one of the books below.  Click on the Kindle icon to download the guide from Amazon. Click on the PDF version if you don’t have a Kindle reader. Enjoy the guide!

The PDF version of the guide