What Living On A Boat Is Really Like – I Hate To Say I Told You So

A little while back I wrote a post on how I worried about the increasing portrayal of living aboard a narrowboat as the answer to mortgage freedom and a more relaxed way of life. I argued how, whilst it provided that, it wasn’t quite so simple, and it was much more than that. Yesterday it would seem that a short article ranted about exactly what can go wrong when this is taken at its word was going viral, and as a result James and I got tagged in it, A LOT.

You can read the article here if you want to, it’s only a short one, it will take you no more than a couple of minutes. But it seems to lean towards exactly what was discussed. Slight disclaimer here I would have to assume that the person at the centre of this carried out very little research in advance of jumping off the diving board into the murky cut, because the problems they discuss are hardly hidden characteristics.

Because lets all be honest here, you are living in the equivalent of a corridor, with a chemical toilet. It can be a very pretty one but still, it’s an entirely different living arrangement. It would be easy to sit here and argue that they should have known, they should have researched, which they should have. Equally though were they sold along on this ideal that the media seems all too happy to roll out at the minute?  Buying a boat is a huge decision, huge commitment and it is never going to be the equivalent of a house, no matter what anyone says you won’t convince me.

There are parts of his complaints that I sympathise with, for example it is a constant worry of mine that we have brought and are living in an asset which will be forever depreciating and is by no means traditional. There are of course parts of the argument that are sheer poor planning or indeed lack of knowledge, taking what the media says at face value. Having to turn your dining room into your bed each night, well from the offset it was a must have of any boat we brought that we wouldn’t have to construct our bed or anything else every night, it needed to be as close to a house as possible. In the same stroke purchasing a boat without having secured a permanent mooring (If this is what you want as the article seems to suggest) is a little bit silly in my opinion.

Although to worry that your home is rotting away beneath you … irks me to a lack in knowledge, survey your boat and stay on top of maintenance, it truly is that simple, and not massively different to maintaining a house. Never believe what you read in the papers is what they say isn’t it, but it isn’t just the papers, boat fever seems to be everywhere! From the Great Canal Journeys, to every mortgage free programme going. It’s getting more and more representation. As house prices continue to rocket can someone really be blamed for believing the hype?

It’s such a difficult conundrum and I wondered how many more have fallen into it without their eyes open. I like to think that we carried out a fair amount of research prior to buying. We read a lot of books, looked at a lot of boats and brought through a brokerage to help to guide us further. We only spent one day, one dismal day trip on the water prior to plunging our savings and a seven-year mortgage commitment into a floating home. When you spell it out that way it really doesn’t sound like a great deal of preparation.  It wasn’t, I am under no illusion that we fell lucky, we could of so easily been the people in that article.

As much as I love boat life there have been many times when I have despised it, with almost every bit of my being. The Beast from the East was a particular low light. Thankfully it’s given us some of our best times as well, it all balances in the end I suppose. Its this balance however that you just don’t see represented, you see all the pros without any of the balancing cons, and that to me is an incomplete cocktail.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not a Negative Nancy, boat life is undoubtedly the best thing that happened to us. We have fallen whole heartedly into the lifestyle. There are truly spectacular times to be had aboard, I mean just look at our garden, and our neighbours.

But it’s not going to be the same experience for everyone, and selling this low-cost living, slow paced ideal is setting up hundreds of people desperate to own their own tiny slice of the world up for failure.  I hate to say I told you so but …

James & Kirsty

A diary of live aboard life

4 thoughts on “What Living On A Boat Is Really Like – I Hate To Say I Told You So

  1. I feel that if you are going to buy a boat and live on it, you have to be prepared that it’s going to cost more to maintain it than you realise for a start. Also, that while there are going to be some great times, especially when the weather is good, there will be very difficult times too, such as the Beast from the East like you said. Some people are ok with that of course. I would love the opportunity to try it out though 😁

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely Marie-Celine! You can do all the research in the world but it still not be right for you! It is a lottery, and not one size fits all. I guess it would just be nice for a representation of both sides in the media! 🙂


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