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Living afloat: should you take the plunge?

Canal Boat

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The appeal of boat life is unquestionable – the adventure, simplicity, a lifestyle closer to nature. Many people all over world have made the decision to leave dry land behind and take up residence on canals. There is currently a housing shortage across the UK, which is driving up prices as a result. Living on a boat offers a viable alternative to traditional housing, ensuring an affordable way to live in a major city. A houseboat has all kinds of benefits, but life on water isn’t for everyone. If you’ve ever been tempted by the idea of a life on the water, here are some key things to consider:

Boat life can be cheaper than renting a house or a flat, but there are still a number of costs you have to consider. As a houseboat is still considered real property, you can’t get away from paying things like tax, insurance and running costs. Also, not to mention that houseboat owners are required to pay a licencing fee, and a property agent would be able to determine whether the fee is tax-deductible. Also, there are going to be maintenance costs for the overall upkeep of the boat. Keep in mind that it can cost around £2,000 just to get your boat out of the water for renovations and refurbishments. The actual price of a houseboat depends on its size, condition and location. Today, a narrowboat can cost anywhere from £15,000 to over £100,000. However, obtaining a mortgage can be a challenge, as there’s no land to secure the lending to.

The lifestyle of living on a boat is one of the main draws for people. It can seem idyllic, conjuring up images of blue waters and sunny fields. A houseboat gives you the freedom to go wherever you please, to be your own ‘captain’. However, actually stepping aboard and living there isn’t as easy as you may think. When you live on a boat, you’ll have to get accustomed to the limited amount of space and the constant need to fill water tanks, and become much more self-sufficient. But you’ll make way for a more energy-efficient lifestyle, as you may well use fewer resources aboard. All in all, the type of lifestyle should be carefully considered.

The amount of travelling you can do from living aboard is one of the key benefits of a houseboat. It means travel is less expensive as you’ll have your own private transportation. So, houseboats have the advantage of instant relocation without packing and unpacking. But unless you’re a ‘continuous cruiser’, you’ll need to find a mooring spot, which can be hard to come by as they are extremely popular, particularly in London. Permanent mooring means you’ll have to pay council tax and have a planning permission. One of the disadvantages of home moorings is the lack of a post code. As a result, boat owners may struggle to apply for bank accounts and complete other types of financial applications.

An owner of a houseboat can treat it as a rental or investment property. As an investment, there are both clear advantages and disadvantages. Like traditional homes, value for a houseboat is entirely dependent on the market conditions, the supply, how well it’s maintained and its overall quality. However, houseboats are much more limited compared to land homes and are seasonal. People are more likely to want to stay in a boat during the summer. Also, different locations have their own water authority and regulations, which could affect market price.

Living on a boat offers a serene and rewarding lifestyle, but it does have its downsides. It’s a lifestyle that takes huge planning and thought to make work. Taking a serious assessment of your personality and long-term needs is the best way to decide whether casting off from dry land is a worthwhile investment.

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