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The Narrowboat Alternative

Posted 4 years ago

Why hard times are a great time to consider Narrowboating... There are many reasons why people choose to move onto a narrowboat. Some fancy the idea of living a more ‘off grid’ existence, enjoying the simple pleasures of life, open space, interaction with nature and the ability to roam and explore.

For others, it’s a romantic ideal. An adventure and exploration of our own backyard plus, the pleasure of meeting a diverse range of people. There is no doubt that the live-aboard fraternity of the narrowboat world is one of the most friendly and helpful communities that exist.

However, for a growing number, the lifestyle benefits are just a bonus.  Their primary driver is financial. They like the idea of a happy off grid community, but they also need to cut their cloth to fit their circumstances.  That could be to make the most of something as predictable as retirement or because of a change in circumstances they did not see coming.

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We see more and more people looking to purchase a narrowboat as a summer retirement residence or in the face of the rising cost of renting and the prohibitive cost of purchasing a new home.

With the average cost of a new home topping £200k, where are prospective homeowners supposed to find the deposit for your brick built residence? Especially if you are having to rent accommodation at the same time as you theoretically save.  Also, with the continued popularity of zero hours contracts, employment stability is not what it once was. This means a large mortgage can be a commitment many don’t want to make.  


The Narrowboat Alternative

Narrowboats offer a great opportunity for couples looking to strike out on their own to make that first step.  You can be on the water for under half the cost of the average new home, finance is relatively straightforward and the ongoing running costs are a fraction of those required to maintain bricks and mortar.

There are a number of common questions that crop up when we’re talking to prospective live-aboard purchasers. Thinks like:

  • Once you purchase your narrowboat, where do you moor it?
  • How will you get to work?
  • How will you register with a GP?

The simple solution is to take up a residential mooring at a marina. These don’t necessarily need to cost much more than a long term leisure mooring and you have the benefit of a fixed address, somewhere to park your vehicle and collect your mail.  It’s because of the number of people looking for an alternative way to get away, that we bought our boat building business together with the marina we are building.  ‘Live the dream Narrowboats at Fradley Marina’.  See what we did there…  


What you need to know about liveaboard Narrowboating

To take up a fixed mooring, with us, you will simply need a narrowboat and a Standard Canal and River Licence from Canal and River Trust.  We can help with both.  

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That said, If you don’t wish to be tied to one location, you can even dispense with the marina and just cruise the canals and rivers. Usually, unless it is indicated otherwise, you can moor your boat for up to 14 days in any one place. This gives you ample time to look around a new area before moving on.

The advice given by the Canal & River Trust is to make a continuous journey and move at least from one parish to another. The purpose of this advice is to ensure that boats don’t keep going backwards and forwards down the same stretch of canal, using the same mooring spots time and time again. If continuously exploring is your type of narrowboat adventure, then you get a Continuous Cruiser Licence from the Trust. The cost is about the same as the Standard Licence.

Alternatively do a bit of both.  Settle down in a marina for the winter and spend the spring and summer cruising.  The point is that you can choose the way you live, it’s much more accessible than most people realise and for many it makes real financial sense too.  


The solution many didn’t know existed

Many think that owning a narrowboat can only be a luxury (and to satisfy those people we build luxury narrowboats) but for many more buying a narrowboat can be a practical step to their independence, freedom and a lifestyle that is frankly pretty addictive.

So, what are you waiting for?  You’ve got nothing to lose from coming to see us for a little fact finding outing.  You can check out the boats, enjoy a pint in our local canal pub or a cuppa in the Café opposite and you never know… a day out at Fradley Marina might reveal  a solution you never knew existed.