The Pros and Cons of Living on a Narrow Boat

Whilst we have only been on Fantine for a month we thought a little round up of the pros and cons we have found of Living Narrow so far could be helpful for any want to be boaters out there!

So let’s start with the Pro’s.

It’s all about the money – Would you like to know our electricity costs for the last month? Under £5.00 … Under £5.00. Can you believe it? Because I certainly can’t, in the house we were spending over £35.00 a month on electricity. Most of our usage is covered by the solar panels, meaning our outgoings on this are tiny unlike this duck.Cheap

A clean home is a happy home – Or so they say! In reality a happy home is one that takes oooo all of 15 minutes to thoroughly clean! Living Narrow means you simply don’t have the space to be messy or that much space to clean. Now if I could just find some of those house cleaning woodland creatures Disney promised me growing up we’d be on to a complete winner. tidy

It’s so pretty – I go on and on about this, and I’m not about to apologise for it! Living Narrow throws you into the most beautiful situations, locations and scenery, The Beauty of Narrow Living – Warning contains graphic boasting for boasting without shame.
FullSizeRender (2)

The most important things in life aren’t things – Before Living Narrow I was a self confessed hoarder, I loved things for the point of things. Scaling down from a three bedroom house to a 57ft Narrow boat shoved me, kicking and screaming to address this. Things aren’t so important now, and my mind is loving the freedom of not having space for things and shhh don’t tell anyone but not actually missing things either. Not going to lie I am still going to buy yet another pair of jeans or that cute little duck statue, but I know exactly where they will sit before I do.  clutter

The boating community – In our last house I knew the next door neighbours names because they signed for parcels for me a few times. The narrow boat world seems to be like stepping back in time a little bit, to a point when everyone knew one another and helped one another. The community surrounding boating is truly incredible.friendly neighbours


I could of gone on for a very long time with the Pros, the cons took a lot more head scratching, but James being ever the Libran told me the post had to be balanced and fair, so here you have five very hard to think of cons of Narrow Living.

What goes bump in the night? – Boats. Not just in the night, anytime. Boats are blooming noisy, and not birds singing noisy, terrifying grab a bucket are we sinking noisy. Whether it’s the water pump allowing you to drink and wash, the waste water pump letting you get rid of your dirty shower water or a duck tapping on the side of your boat at 0500am. Noises just seem magnified, whether that’s a result of the beautiful peace and quiet of the marina I don’t know but it’s terrifying none the less.


You have to wash your house – I love my car, but 90% of the time it’s impossible to tell what colour it was when it came off the Ford production line and passengers who dare ride with me get to guess what might be growing inside. It’s disgusting but I hate cleaning my car. Well now we have a whacking great 57ft area to clean. I decided to take on this task the other day (sssshhh don’t tell anyone but I quickly decided to only wash the side that people will see). dirty-message-1Boating isn’t that cheap – A lot of people immediately assume the cost of Narrow Living is so low we’d get change from £10 each month. News Flash Boating isn’t cheap (I understand point 1 on the Pro’s list contradicts this, electricity for boats is a bargain, everything else is not). Whether it’s your Canals and Rivers Trust license or just coal to stay warm, our monthly outgoings really aren’t massively different to when we were in the house. Boating is much like motorsport put a ‘Marine’ in front of it and the price will treble.moniesYour name get’s longer – Hello I’m Kirsty she lives on a boat. Be prepared for this to become your interesting fact, that people share with anyone and everyone they introduce you to. Conversations tend to go as follows:                                                                   Friend to person you’ve never met: ‘Have you met before? This is Kirsty she                   lives on a boat’                                                                                                                               Stranger: ‘You live on a boat? Like a canal boat?’                                                                   You:bqZpWAlarm clocks are irrelevant – You’ll get woken up by ducklings and swans I mean the inconvenience of this is incredible and it would be fair to say it puts me in a terrible mood for the whole day. (Total lie hoping by this point James has stopped reading cause I’ve really ran out of cons). IMG_9801So there you have it, reading this back it would seem my Pro’s List is a total contradiction to my Con’s List sorry about that! As I say we have only been a board for a month so seasoned boaty folk will probably have waaaay more constructive points. But I hope that for now that gives you all an idea.

James & Kirsty


6 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Living on a Narrow Boat

    1. Thanks for the comment Tony, lovely to hear you go on Narrowboat Holidays, it’s such a tranquil way to spend a week (If the weather is on your side!). You can consider what we have done brave or foolish haha! But thank you for your comment and hope you continue to enjoy your time on the Waterways.


  1. Me and my wife are looking at doing the same, jumping from our house to a narrow boat, not literally of course.😜
    We have bought & sold 4 boats over the past 6 years or so, so have a pretty good idea of the ins & outs of it all, and just making that leap, it scares the begeebers out of us.
    I’m doing a list now of the real pros & cons.
    We have seen a boat we like and are ready to put the house on the market.
    We are both in our 50s and so wondering if it’s too late🤔.
    Any sound advise would be appreciated.
    Both me & my wife work, kids left home and we rattle round this house like 2 dried peas in a tin😁


    1. Hi Trevor,

      Thank you so much for the comment! So exciting to hear about your plans too.

      Honestly it sounds like you’re taking all the right steps and already have a good knowledge of the boat World so you’re already setting yourself up to succeed!

      If I could offer any advice at all, it would be to not expect it to be perfect! I had these visions of how different our life would be aboard and really on the whole it’s pretty much the same! Of course with some added benefits (Mainly Ducklings). Take the time to look into costings fully, we see very little cost difference between our land life and narrow living, but this is very dependent on individual situation. We’d be happy to go further into costs if this would help!

      It’s really scary to think of the downsizing factor too! One thing I’d really recommend is having a storage unit, even just for the first year. I actually did another blog on my strategy for clutter clearing, which might help. But anything we kept in storage was in a numbered box, I then had a spreadsheet detailing the contents of each box. Every time we got something out of storage I made a mark next to it, twelve months later anything which hadn’t been touched and didn’t hold huge sentimental value was taken to the charity shop. I suppose what I’m trying to say is don’t feel you have to have a huge purge immediately, take your time to work out what you actually need and want to keep. We we’re surprised once we were aboard and settled at how much space we had, so were glad we didn’t purge too heavily initially!

      I think working definitely helps! James and I can find the boat a tad claustrophobic when we have extended periods off together. I think having hobbies/jobs/good time away from the boat really helps you to look past the confines of the space.

      Finally, you have in no way left it too late, the majority of people we meet on the canal network are your age and above. The boating community is absolutely fantastic, they are truly some of the most friendly and helpful people we’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, and we’ve gained friends for life.

      If there is anything else we can help you with on your journey to your own narrow home just let us know! We’re more than happy to help 🙂

      Kirsty & James


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s