A Life on the Water: Guide to Buying or Renting a Houseboat

When you decide to buy or rent a property, your first thought will likely be a house or a flat. But have you ever considered the idea of living in a houseboat? This is becoming an increasingly popular way to live, and it could be a great option for you.

Why Choose a Houseboat?

There are many reasons why people choose to live in a houseboat. One of the attractions for many people is that it can be less expensive than buying or renting a house or flat. But there is more to living on a houseboat than this.

In addition, it provides you with the freedom to move around when you want to, and it also allows you to live close to nature – which is true even if you live in the middle of London.

It is also a more eco-friendly way to live, and you can enjoy living in a friendly community of other houseboat residents.

Many reports have come out recently suggesting that houseboats are becoming increasingly popular, especially in London. Homes and Property reported that Hackney is a particularly popular area, and that between 2013 and 2014 there was an 85% increase in the number of boats being monitored here. In some areas, demand for moorings is outstripping supply.

Things You Need to Know

If you decide to live in a houseboat, whether buying one to live in, buying one to let to tenants, or renting one yourself, there are a number of things you need to know.

First of all, there are a number of hidden costs involved. These include boat maintenance if you are the owner, mooring costs (which can cost thousands of pounds a year), a British Waterways Licence, a Boat Safety Scheme certificate, as well as the cost of scraping the hull every few years, painting and varnishing the boat, and paying for fuel.

Also remember that you will still have all the usual bills to pay including gas, electricity, water and council tax.

Financing is one of the biggest issues with houseboats. Mortgages are harder to get than with a typical property, so you may need to buy with cash. However, there are specialist companies that can help with financing.

There are various types of houseboats to choose from, and narrowboats, Dutch barges and yachts all have different characteristics, so you should spend some time looking at the options.

You will also want to choose a suitable location. In London, the Docklands is a great option for young professionals, but if you have a larger budget, Chelsea or Wandsworth could be tempting options. Alternatively, you may prefer to live in a more rural area. There are plenty of places all over the UK to choose from, so spend some time making your decision.

Live a Life on the Water

Try to rent a houseboat if you can find one because this will provide you with an opportunity to find out whether it really is a way of living you enjoy. It's a great way to try out the lifestyle, and if you love it, you can then start looking for one to invest in. Just make sure you keep all of the above info in mind.

Then who knows – you may find that you never want to move back to land again.