Thinking about doing the houseboat thing...in London

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by kellyllek, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. kellyllek

    kellyllek

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    Hi All! I thought I'd do some thinking out loud and annoy you with it!

    Just to preface this by saying that in 2015 I lived in my Roadtrek Class C van for 5 months travelling the US. The first month I was lonely an miserable, but then I adjusted and never wanted the adventure to end. (It did when I ran out gas money!) I know the highs and lows and spent every night on the road alone; not a single night in a campground. There's a lot about the lifestyle I miss, however every time I have a warm shower I don't miss the life at all!

    OK the boat idea: I know; it seems like a good idea and a way to save money, but you end up freezing, or paying high mooring costs, or having to find a shower and a toilet, or having to move the boat all the time, or having high repair costs, or all of the above!

    I'm having to leave my place in London where I've had a place to stay all my life. I work for myself and don't earn much, but I've been able to maintain a happy and cheap London life All that will soon change and reality will hit! It'll either mean I move far away to find something suitable and affordable, or I live in London in some kind of flat share situation. Whatever I do I'll be getting a full time job, but it is going to be tough to work my butt off and still not afford to have my own space. A flat share is going to run min 500/month and much higher closer to the city. And frankly at my age I'm not too hip on playing roommates!

    So I was checking out the boat idea. I see that residential moorings are going for < 10,000/year over in the East side of London. And out west West maybe the same. Yeah not ideal, but compared to a flat share that doesn't seem outrageous. I know nothing about boat living but assume it's like a campground next to the water and you have a communal shower or some kind. But at the same price essentially as a flat share it looks like I would at least have my own space.

    Add to that used boats are starting at less than 10,000. I'm sure most cheap boats are hunks of junk. But I feel whatever I end up with probably won't lose all value overnight, and if I can manage the lifestyle maybe I'll upgrade at some point.

    My roadtrek van was old as dirt and yet I ended up really happy in it. I don't have a family, so I'm probably better suited for this as an option then most. Ideally though I like the idea of having my own toilet and shower too, and minimal issues with having to access facilities and utilities like water and electric. So if there's a mooring or boat type that allows you to hook all that up like a nice campground would, that be great.

    British Waterways Marinas Ltd. seem to have a number of marinas around the country, as well as offering a brokerage service. It looks like they keep a lot of boats that are for sale up in Nothinghamshire, and they have some videos showcasing the lifestyle. https://bwml.co.uk/brokerage/

    I thought it maybe worth a trip to check it out, if only to see what a lot of different cheaper boats might offer. I'm assuming I could even rent or otherwise stay in a place a day or two just to get a better idea of what it's like (there's certainly vacation boat rentals elsewhere).

    If I want to be in the London area I've no idea the cost in transporting a boat, or what other costs to the authorities might be. But I figure if I went for something really cheap and smaller my risks would be minimal, and the cost of transporting it may be reasonable.

    The other option is totally different, but means leaving London. I get a plot of land with permission, and buy a prefab house that I assemble myself. I have some resource, but nothing major and nothing that'll get more than a parking space in London! So really this options is less than ideal, but still may make sense if I'm to leave London.

    I could ramble on! But I'd appreciate your initial thoughts. tks!
     
  2. Jim

    Jim Ringleader

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    Hi @kellyllek your post has just this moment gone live. Sorry it took a while. Newbies with links in their first post are moderated as part of our spam reduction policy (y)
     
  3. TinaL

    TinaL Funster

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    I think the best initial approach may well be to have a walk along the existing moorings in London (amny areas to choose from) and have a chat with existing boat owners, about the costs associated with living on the river/mooring. There has been news in recent times about mooring fees shooting through the roof and also another rule about "residents" not being allowed to stay longer than a pre agreed time (set by local council) before they have to move again.
    As for boats at 10K, I think you may be shocked at the value of some of the existing moored up ones, especially around St Catherins Dock area:eek: There have been many conversions/upgrades shown on TV over the years, and they were fully kitted out. like palaces almost. One that comes to mind was a couple converting a Dutch Barge,up in Norfolk I think it was, it took a couple of years and loads of dosh, but was worth it in the end.
    Good luck though, join up to Fun,(not sure you may have already?) and recieve the member benefits that only a £15 a year subscription can offer.
    Les
     
  4. gus-lopez

    gus-lopez Funster

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  5. keades

    keades Funster

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    Welcome. I don't mean to sound unhelpful but I think you might have been better joining a narrowboat or houseboat forum if that's the route you're considering. We considered buying a narrowboat several years ago but were rather put off by how expensive they were, with £30,000 seeming to be the cheapest available that didn't have major drawbacks. Permanent moorings can be difficult to find and expensive especially in major cities. I think the previous advice of talking to others who are living aboard is sound. Also maybe hire one to see how you find it. Having said all of that we loved the many holidays we had but finally decided a motorhome suited us better. Whatever you decide, good luck.
     
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  6. In the Pink

    In the Pink Funster

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    A friend of mine found herself in a position where she had to find accommodation at short notice and couldn’t afford to rent a flat.
    She ended up renting a boat, a houseboat in fact. It was a large barge type moored on a private marina. Really nice and spacious inside with a wood burning stove, toilet and shower. The owner then sold the boat and she rented another one on the same marina, much smaller and more of a boat than a home. That rental also came to an end and she ended up buying one of her own and moored it at the same marina. She loved the lifestyle and adapted really well. She had to move the boat to fill up with water and diesel and empty the tanks but otherwise remained static. All boats were on hook ups.
    Because it was a marina there were shower blocks and washing machines on site. The only fees are the mooring fees, no charges for electricity or water and of course no council tax. Positives, beautiful setting, fantastic in the summer, chilled lifestyle. Negatives, cold in the winter and no postal service so need to have another address for your mail.
    Best of luck whatever option you choose
     
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  7. ambulancekidd

    ambulancekidd Funster

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  8. Eggs

    Eggs Funster

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    I had a narrow boat and loved it but it's not all Tim and Pru. The inland waterways are falling to pieces and CaRT don't seem to care, facilities are rundown, water points that don't work, Elsan points out of order the list is endless. London is full of folk that think living on a boat is cheap, they usually last one or maybe two winters. Check very carefully that you can stay on your boat permanently in the marina, if you can you will have to pay council tax. Any boat owner will tell you BOAT stands for Bring Out Another Thousand.
     
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  9. Xabia

    Xabia Funster

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    I think ou will find that marina charges in Newark are considerably lower than in London and there is a regular train to London, about 1 hour 12 minutes. A lot of people in this neck of the woods commute daily and the surroundings are much more pleasant than London.:)
     
  10. David and Sally

    David and Sally Funster

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    Or as Ted Heath used to say " like standing under a cold shower ripping up five pound notes"
     
  11. Eggs

    Eggs Funster

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    There is a couple in London (Polish I think) that make a good living by buying boats on the towpath from people that have had enough of it and take low offers just to get rid of boats, they've usually got 2 or 3 boats on eBay at any given time.
     
  12. David and Sally

    David and Sally Funster

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    A pal of mine lived on a 40 foot Colin Archer ketch in Southampton. Wooden construction and a lovely boat but the winters were VERY long! By their very nature they are damp and cold unless you spend a fortune on heating
     
  13. tonyidle

    tonyidle Funster

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    You could of course simply replace your motorhome with one that has a decent shower.
     
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  14. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    Spooky this should come up. I was considering posting on a similar topic.

    I am coming up on 10 years of fulltiming in a van. Am considering a narrow boat for my mid 50's or towards retirement. I am 47 now and am used to living offgrid with minimal facilities so the narrowboat lifestyle doesn't phase me. All that extra space, huge fresh water tanks and black tank toilet. All sounds good to me. Spent a few weeks now watching youtube videos by narrow boaters each evening and learned a lot. I will probably look at constant cruising and maybe taking up a winter mooring spot each year.

    I have never considered narrow boating a viable option before due to the restricted places you can visit, unlike in my van where I can travel where I want. However I am now ready for a bit more of a settled life but don't want to live in a house stuck in one place. The narrow boat appears to be a nice middle ground. Not ready for it just yet, but in 5-10 years I think I find it really appealing.
     
  15. Eggs

    Eggs Funster

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    I'm not trying to put you off buying a boat to live on, like I said I loved it. £10k isn't going to get you a liveabord boat, I would start looking at £25k plus or you'll be buying someone else's problems. Presuming you'll buy a steel boat remember it will have to come out of the water every 2 to 3 years for blacking, anodes and other maintenance, depending on where you are you may not be able to stay on the boat while it's out of the water. Please take my advice and have a survey done if you don't know about boats it may cost a few hundred quid or more but it will save you a fortune if you buy a lemon.
     
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  16. Eggs

    Eggs Funster

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    Think long and hard about it Gromett, CC'ing is tough going in the winter, being frozen in isn't an exscuse for not moving every 14 days, I realise you said you would get a winter mooring but these are becoming harder to find due to the amount of leisure boats that are on the cut now. How would you get your supplies with no vehicle, or would you do the back n forth to move a car about?, Fuel boats can't do some parts of the network due to their load and water shortages. Winter stoppages for maintenance will/can see you trapped for weeks/months. Happy boating.

    Ps, if you haven't already seen him on YouTube have a look at a fella who goes by the username Cruising the Cut.
     
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  17. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    Being frozen in is an excuse for not moving every 14 days.
    https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/refr...idance-for-boaters-without-a-home-mooring.pdf
    I won't be doing this in London, so a lot of the issues that arise are less of an issue further north.

    On water and supplies. I have had most issues like this in my motorhome. 28 day limit on CL's and being trapped there due to snow. Being too far away from supplies and not being able to drive. For instance only carrying 2 weeks of LPG in the depths of winter and being frozen in place. Water pipes on the CL freezing and grey tank outlet frozen.

    I am fully aware of the issues of living an isolated life, the problems of getting fresh water and other supplies.

    For winter mooring, I would probably look at a private marina such as the the one at Newark or even one or two on the river witham.

    For transport, I would have an electric bike and bike trailer. I am accustomed to getting supplies in for 4 weeks worth of offgriding at times. So getting into those habits again is not an issue.

    Thanks for the suggestions/guidance though (y)...

    Being a fulltimer of almost 10 years I am probably a bit more prepared than the average house dweller would be before moving onto a boat.
     
  18. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    I would second this. I will be doing most work on my own boat, so have been reading up and studying about safety issues and how to avoid issues. Overplating was a concern of mine so read up on it... I will be looking for a older boat but will be avoiding one that has had any major overplating.

    https://www.iims.org.uk/the-dangers-of-overplating/
     
  19. Rob Hammond

    Rob Hammond Funster

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    My brother and wife have just sold their narrow boat ,he’s looking forward to being in bricks and mortar :D
     
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  20. Gromett

    Gromett Funster

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    I dread the thought of being forced into bricks and mortar..... I couldn't stand the thought of living in one place for the rest of my life.
    Funny as I have been in one place for quite a long time now, but don't feel trapped because I am living on 4 wheels and could if necessary or desirable move within an hours notice.

    How long did your brother/wife live on their boat for?

    Fulltimers seem to fail in batches at year 2-3 5-7 and then 10 years. Most don't last a year though.
     

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