The Worry Of Boat Life – Is Owning A Narrrow Boat The Right Thing?

If you took the time to read my last post to the end (thank you, but I won’t blame you if you didn’t) you’ll know I was talking about the drawbacks of boat life, with eighteen months of experience behind us. Whenever we get questioned on it, we tend to laugh it off, everything with boat life is great as long as she stays floating I’ll exclaim. But now I want to get real, and super pensive and millennial so if you’re not into that stop reading now and check back in a couple of days when normal order will be resumed.

What I am internally screaming when people ask what the drawbacks of boat life are, have the rose tints got less rosy, is what I like to call The Worry of Boat Life. It’s something that comes to me when I can’t sleep at 0300am, or when another dear friend buys their first home.

The Worry of Boat Life = Have we done the right thing.


We’ve gone whole-heartedly down this life route which, honestly eighteen months in, I still have immense love for, but what if it’s the wrong thing. Everywhere we look, everything we read is geared towards the important stages of life, and buying a home, well its one of the biggies. Only by home it’s 100% reserved for bricks and mortar, not steel and diesel engines. What have we done?

We sank our savings into Fantine, and took out a loan to cover the short fall, and she’s it. Our home, rather than the bricks and mortar of friends, is a depreciating asset. Whilst the utility costs are almost as low as when you live with your parents, the maintenance, well that’s a different story. Be it the hull blacking, or the fact that she’ll soon need repainting entirely.

Or let me take you to December, snowy cold December, its 8pm, the fire is going nicely and it’s all warm inside, the only thing you need to complete this perfect image, a pot of lovely builders tea. You turn on the tap and glug-glug-splutter-splutter, the risky game of water roulette you’ve been playing for the last two weeks has backfired, it’s time to take the bullet, the water has run out and it’s time for you to head out in the snow to refill it. As you sit there willing the water tank to fill before you loose any limbs to frostbite, your mind drifts to your sisters new build, with it’s mains plumbing, and squidgy carpet. (Note here you could go for the alternative I normally do of switching to another winter warmer, I’ll have to have mulled wine instead!).

I love that we are not tied to the rat race, facing 35 years of having to make enough money to cover the mortgage, and try to live alongside it. I keep quoting to people that in 5 years we could semi-retire if we want to, just make enough to live and pay the maintenance and utilities on the boat. But at the same point there’s that slight fear. Whilst we’ll have the disposable income to live a comfortable life, we’re not going to have an asset in 35 years which is worth 100’s of thousands of pounds.

Have we done the right thing.


It nibbles away at you, when you go shopping with your friends and they are looking at new sofas or decorative items, things we just don’t have the room for. My rational brain kicks in and says it’s just stuff, stuff we don’t need, but wouldn’t it be nice to be able to pick a new paint colour for the kitchen, without having to worry about it clashing with the dining room, living room and hallway.

We have the beauty that our home moves with us, but since our expansion of adding the cratch, it won’t grow with us. It’s never been our plans to have a family, nor will it ever be, so is there really a need for an additional bedroom? When I stay at a friends without having to wrestle a dog for a place on the sofa sometimes I feel like there is.

Have we done the right thing.


But then as I sit here and think of it, we’re kind of just skipping out all the shitty steps in between and saving ourselves a load of money and hassle in the process. My dad has spent his whole life working hard moving up through homes to the large three storey, four bedroom, three reception room, stunning period home he’s in now … next month he’s downsizing, to a two bedroom barn conversion. His words ring in my ears, I can’t wait to have less space, less work to do and be in the countryside with the time to enjoy it. When you think about it, we’re just skipping that whole I need a two-bedroom house, now we’ve filled this let’s go for a three bedroom. We have the confidence to say no, we have what we need in terms of space, in terms of home, it’s cute, it’s quaint and it is entirely functional.

What’s more in five years’ time, should we want to spend half our wages on driving round in never ending circles (James’ dream) or on a gorgeous horse (mine), we won’t be appearing on Can’t Pay We’ll Take It Away (My Sunday guilty pleasure) with a bailiff threatening to take our fridge freezer if we don’t pay our mortgage. Because we won’t have one (Both a fridge freezer and a mortgage).

So, we might not have an asset worth hundreds of thousands when we’re 70, but we equally won’t of spent 35 years paying towards that asset, so the money saved along the way should help us somewhat at this stage? That’s if you’re lucky enough to make it to that stage (Yes, I’m being that morbid today, I did warn you I’m not feeling particularly cheery).

Who really cares? We get to live in the most stunning places, that change all the time, or as often as we want it to. We have an instant community, when did you last sit and sink a bottle with your neighbours, or borrow their multi-meter to try and work out what was wrong with your boat? When did you last get to properly enjoy a sunny day, without a stack of gardening to do before you can bring yourself to sit out in the garden? When did you last have the in laws round and not have to worry about a big clean up beforehand? When did you last wake up in the night and worry about the fact you’re tied to a huge mortgage for the next 35 years?

Have we done the right thing?


I could be blahzay here and say absolutely, but I think the worry of boat life will always creep up on me somewhat, whether it’s at 3 in the morning, or when my toes sink into squishy house carpet, or yet another person pushes the importance of owning a bricks and mortar home. Do home owners worry that they’ve invested their money wrongly, or that they’re tied to this huge money zapping asset, well I don’t know.

In the same way that I happily declare to anyone who asks that the only worry with boat life is that Fantine remains floating, will a home owner deny any concerns over home ownership. Probably it’s the life we lead these days isn’t it.

So, there you have it, an insight into my worries, talk about first world problems hey! I can assure you next time we will be back to my standard style of blogging. I think it’s important every once in a while, to talk about the reality, not just the filtered version of your life and lifestyle.

James & Kirsty

A diary of live aboard life



4 thoughts on “The Worry Of Boat Life – Is Owning A Narrrow Boat The Right Thing?

  1. Hi Kirsty. I for one think you have absolutely done the right thing. Many people wait until they retire to live the life you do (I know you both work hard as well though), and some people never make it to their dreamed of retirement. Then you’ve got the deeper questions of the total pointlessness of working and spending and accumulating stuff… Anyway, I agree, here is a blog about the process we went tthrough to dismantle our house life.
    The posts before then document some of the psychological and practical struggles to get there. Sometimes I have felt scared, but I feel I am really living my life now. And I enjoyed a more personal blog from you as well.


      1. Thank you very much. And I realise we had a house to downsize, but really a year in India for two is about the same price or less than the deposit on a first home! We had a three bed house and two working still no spare money due mainly to billls. Electricity is so pricey in UK!


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