During the recent times of the financial crisis here in the UK, the number of people turning towards alternate, cheaper living styles has seen a substantial rise. Many people struggling to support massive mortgages combined with the rising cost of energy bills, have left many people wondering if life really needs or should be so expensive. It is not surprising that the appeal towards live aboard Narrow boats has seen a significant rise.

With over 15000 people now living on the canal system maybe it’s time to consider the benefits of choosing this life style. I say life-style choice because I believe living aboard a narrow boat is not for everyone and requires a certain mentality and personality. However this does not by any means insinuate that all people that live on narrow boats are all the same but merely that they each do share certain interests and common ideals.



Living Space 

The first and foremost observation about a live aboard lifestyle has to be reduced space and no matter how clutter free and organised the interior of a narrow boat is there will always be a substantial difference from the average house interior area. However, looks can be deceiving and the size of the interior space is far more comfortable than it may appear from the outside. This I believe is due to a large portion of the boats hull lying underwater often making it appear much smaller by someone outside.  Obviously the living space would be far too small for a family but it would be more than adequate for a single person and sufficient for a couple.

Heating your home


The majority of narrow boats use either one or two stoves to provide heating throughout the internal space. These will often run on solid fuels however diesel fuel versions are now being increasingly used. In terms of heating the interior space, this is where the compact size of narrow boats plays a major advantage and most people find that burning a stove on a low heat throughout the day will be sufficient in keeping the interior warm and cosy even during the coldest nights of winter. For the majority of stoves that run on solid fuels the length of the canals provide many wooded areas to collect logs for burning. This fuel is off course free and as long as you are not trespassing on private property or cutting down living tree you should freely be able to build up a good stock of logs to burn throughout the winter months.


However with this said, the one major disadvantage of relying on a stove when compared to a central heating system is the need to feed the stove with fuel. As the fire burn down throughout the night obviously its heat output will decrease which can lead to some brisk early winter morning prior to the stove getting stoked back up again.

Nature, Views and Tranquillity 

The canal system cut through some amazing parts of the UK countryside, forests and cities while also supporting a diverse mixture of wildlife throughout. When living aboard a narrow boat there is simply never more than a couple of steps which separates you from the great outdoors. Your garden becomes the towpath and adjoining countryside, perfect for taking the walking the dogs or enjoying a BBQ in warm sunny evenings. For those keen fishermen out there living on the canal can seem like paradise with the majority of canal containing some superb fishing. 

Sustainable Living


The reduced living space on board a narrow boat will often make people more sustainable in the way that their deal with their supplies. People will tend to be more conservative when shopping, buying only things that are needed and that’s they feel they have space for. With your water and fuel supply contained on board, boaters are more aware of their water and electricity usage and aim to always minimize wastage. Being so close to nature every day you are reminded of your impact on the environment which can also have a positive impact on people looking to live more sustainable.


If you are tempted by making change from the mainstream chaotic lifestyle of the modern world narrow boat living could provide an answer.