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Narrow Boat
Written by Guest Author on November 17, 2020 Share on

The Requirements and Costs Of Living On A Narrow Boat

Planning for your vacation or future lifestyle? Living on a narrow boat worth your consideration.

Owning and living in a narrow boat is gaining more popularity in recent days. For those who never had such experiences of living in boats for days (and even for months), it may seem kind of scary, costly, and full of uncertainties. But it is not like that. You don’t have to be a millionaire to own such a boat (yes, only a boat and not a luxurious yacht) or travel several hundred miles for some weeks.

Well, there are some limitations and conditions on how much you can afford.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the requirements and costs of living on a narrow boat in detail.


The first thing you need to do even before you get the boat in the water is the insurance. ‍And the good news is that it’s not as costly as car insurance which is kind of stratospheric. You need the insurance not only for the boat itself but also for some cases like you are out on the crawling and you bump into someone’s boat and cause them substantial damage. Here the insurance will pay for your incompetence.

The insurance on a boat 56 feet long (built in 2000) is only £160 for a year. And that essentially includes you living aboard. The amount may go a little higher if you have other expensive items in the boat than what is specified on the policy papers. The basic cost for a year’s insurance on the boat includes, for you to be on the water and have it protected against theft, fire, flood, crashing into other people, and so on.

A good idea will be for you to buy a used boat. If you buy a used but running boat you have a chance to get all the papers ready. You might check out narrow boats for sale.

C&RT Licence

The next thing presumably you are going to need, if you put your boat onto the water, is your Canal and River Trust license. This license, however, covers the canals and some rivers. Some other rivers are covered by the Environment Agency. They have a different licensing scheme. There is another license, a little more expensive, that allows you to go everywhere. Lots of options like this are available.

Visit C&RT general licencing page to have other details.

Generally, a 56 feet long boat should cost a bit more than £900 a year.


You need to anchor your boat somewhere. whether you board it, or maybe during weekends and holidays, or whatever the reason maybe you need a place to keep it. Here comes this charge. However, there are options for avoiding that.

This cost varies depending on the sort of mooring you use. If the canal is by a farmer’s field and you have an amicable relationship with him there may not be any charge for mooring. But, if you are in a posh marina somewhere in London and plan to stay some extra days (beyond your contract), it could be over £20 each day.

A rough and average cost is £150 to £300 a month. It also depends on how long the contract is for.

There is another question of whether you are using it simply for leisure or to live abroad. For living aboard there are some residential moorings, fully paid-up and classified as residential. After paying the council taxes to the local council you do not need to move anywhere.

For leisure moorings, you generally don’t stay there all the time. Yet, if you plan on staying for long without appearing to be fully residential and not causing any trouble to anyone you might find the rules are pretty much moderate and liberal.

The cost varies depending on the following criteria:

  • Place
  • Facilities
  • How long you plan to stay
  • Season

The best way is to declare to the Canal and River Trust that you have no home mooring and you are simply going to cruise the canals and rivers nonstop.

Blacking the Boat

The next thing you need in your budget is the cost of blacking the boat which needs to be done with conventional blacking every two to three years.  You take the boat out of the water, hose off all the muck on it, scrape off the old blacking, and apply some new blacking, and finally, your boat goes back on the water.

You can do without blacking too. Instead of black, you can use pack epoxy coating which may last seven to ten years. But it’s more expensive.

The cost will vary depending on the length of your narrow boat and whether you do it yourself or have it done by the yard. The blacking of an average length boat done by the yard would cost you six hundred quid.


Whether you service the engine yourself or have it done by someone as a requirement for servicing you will need some materials like oil, oil filter, air filter, fuel filter. Again the cost of servicing varies depending on several factors like the brand and version of the engine, the standard of your last maintenance, the place from where you are hiring the mechanics, and the total time the engine ran.

The generalized idea is to pay professional labor rates.

Apart from that, there is the river canal rescue— an emergency service in case you have a breakdown. [Well, you are quite free not to choose this either!] There are various tiers of service. The basic one called a retainer service would cost you £65 which may go up to up to  £240 per year for gold service charges.

General Maintenance, Upgrades & Other Costs

There are some other points to keep in mind, expenses like regular diesel consumption, some parts broke down and needing replacement, you may need a new water pump, cooking, groceries, personal expenses like phone and internet, and so on.

You don’t need to be scared, as we mentioned earlier. Whatever the expenditure it is not more than any regular vacation costs people spend every year. And, after all, the exceptionally wonderful experience you are going to have for the days you spend in your narrow boat could not be found anywhere else in the world or in any other form of living your life.

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