Don’t you hate the way your house stays in one place all the time? Every morning you open the curtains and there’s the same back garden you closed them on the night before. God it’s a pain. In an idea world when you got bored of the view out of your window you’d be able to hoist anchor and sail away like some sort of… boat. Boat, eh? That gives you an idea!
Living on a boat does sound like a dream, a fantasy made glamorous by the likes of Captain Jack Sparrow, Captain Nemo or Rosie and Jim. You could wear a captain’s cap all the time and get people to call you “Skipper”. Who doesn’t want that?
But does the reality live up to the fantasy? Is this what you really ought to do?
Well if you’re the sort of person who sees the answer to a life changing decision like this to an Internet list article, this is the advice you deserve.
Boats are smaller than houses, therefore they must be cheaper right? It should take less energy to run as well. You ought to save a load of money! This is basically an austerity measure, right?
Ummm… No. The truth is the cost of living on a boat varies every bit as much as it does living in a house. Boats can cost anything from £1,000 per foot. Those are some really expensive floorboards. You can get a second hand boat from around £30,000, but again, we’re talking the cheapest of the cheap end, and you’re going to want to look at these boats in person before deciding whether they can support the lifestyle to which you have become accustomed.
And that’s before you start thinking about the cost of mooring the boat, keeping it fuelled or the many other costs that mount up. You’ll be using less electricity sure, but that won’t necessarily cancel out the other costs.
Living on a boat can also complicate how you deal with local authorities. I would love to tell you that there is a simple, straight forward way set of rules that apply to people who live in boats, but this would make me a liar, and I’m reserving my lies for the section of this article about the dangers of Loch Ness monsters [The section on Loch Ness monsters has been cuts- .ed].
Your local council can choose to view its boat-dwelling friends in one of a number of ways. If you moore in their jurisdiction they will either decide that you’re liable for Council Tax, that you’re not Liable for Council Tax, or that the landlord of your mooring is liable for Business Rates but that you aren’t liable for Council Tax.
So good luck with that! Apparently the rules are still evolving, but quite frankly boats have been around for a really long time, so I’m not expecting them to get sorted any time soon. Unfortunately this complicated situation can make some houseboat dwellers reluctant to register to vote. Which creates kind of a vicious cycle- politicians aren’t going to sort out the mess that is how councils deal with boat-dwellers if there aren’t some, ahem, “floating voters” at stake (do you see what I did there?).
You’ll also need to get yourself a registration or licence from a relevant naviation authority, depending on where you’re going to be taking your boat. Anything that involves a fixed address will become a challenge, and you may want to keep a land base somewhere to register on the electoral role and receive your post.
Where To Start?
First, find out if you actually want to stay on a boat. Take a holiday on a hire boat and see how you like the feeling. You’ll need to get a hang of navigating the water ways, working the locks on canals and working out how you feel about living in what will be, let’s face it, some pretty cramped conditions.
But on the bright side you will have that ability to just up anchor and lave whenever you feel like you need a new view, and on a sunny day there are few things in this world quite so fun as going up and down the river in a boat.
Plus, like I said, you can make people call you Skipper! Go find a boat for sale right now!
- License: Creative Commons image source
This is a guest post. Sam Wright is a freelance writer. During the summer he’ll hire a boat to go up and down the Norfolk broads and it’s just like being in Apocalypse Now.