It’s not the life for everyone, and it comes with some hardships that might deter some of us, but moving to a houseboat in London also has some distinct advantages. There’s the chance to slash your outgoings by more than half, see the city a different way, enjoy summer evenings on the water, and move about instead of being fixed to a set of bricks and mortar. It also enables people to do some of their living in handily central areas like Camden, Maida Vale, Little Venice and Angel and have vastly diminished utility bills. If you’re prepared to do what’s known as cc-ing (continuous cruising), you can taste life in a variety of Zone 1 locations provided you’re prepared to move every fortnight.
Like moving anywhere, moving to a London houseboat is a case of weighing up the positives and negatives. There are always sacrifices and it’s a matter of deciding which ones you’re prepared to make. Most Houseboats are narrowboats of around seven feet in width – they need to be slim to make their way through the network of canals in the capital. It used to be just die-hards who were prepared to live this way, but in recent years, the reduced expense that comes with it has begun appealing to lots of young Londoners. As property and rent continue to increase in price, eluding all but the largest of wallets, life on the water has become a popular option. Seven years ago, just over 400 people cc-ed in London. Today, that figure has more than tripled.
While there’s a wonderful sense of romance to canal life – we tend to think of warm summer dusks and bright spring mornings full of poetry – the fact is that it also requires a certain hardiness. You could be reliant on a time-consuming wood-burning stove for heat in winter. You may have periods of being double or triple-moored because of the scarcity of spaces in central locations; consequently, you’re at the mercy of the neighbouring houseboats whose occupants could be noisy. You probably can’t throw large parties, either. But the plus-sides are numerous; peace, cosiness, contentment, much more disposable income, fewer outgoings, fun, adventure, and change every two weeks (unless you opt for the more expensive option of permanent mooring – not always easy to acquire).
At Aussie, we’ve moved plenty of people to and from houseboats, and we’ll have more tips to follow, so watch this space.