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One Man’s Incredible Home…on a Boat

(Image taken from BWML)

Did you watch last week’s episode of George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces on Channel 4?  I’m a big fan of the show and this ‘Floating Homes’ edition featured Mr Clarke spending time on a houseboat.

The houseboat itself looked really cool and stylish and was designed and built by Max McMurdo of Restore, moored at Priory Marina, on the Great River Ouse near Bedford.

Max McMurdo originally sold his static house so that he could use the £50,000 profit to start building his 40ft houseboat.  Amazing Spaces discussed his journey on TV this past week.

Many of you who watched the programme may have had the same momentary dream or imagination of living on a boat.

At first sight, there were the positives of living in a mobile home, moving up and down the land, and stopping off for a holiday where we like.  Then I thought it may be a lot cheaper to live than in your regular house or flat.

But the downsides soon weighed it down a little.  Could I live in such a thin building on the water in stormy weather?  And what are the actual costs of living on a boat?  I did some investigation.

I contacted British Waterways Marina Limited (BWML), which oversees 100 miles of waterways across London alone.  They told me that there has been a huge increase in the number of boats over the past five years – now around 3,000 boats in London alone.

They told me that demand for living on the river is even starting to outdo the supply of boat moorings available.

Whilst it sounds like a growing trend, I found out that there are lots of additional costs that do come with living on a houseboat– and it’s not as cheap as I had originally dreamt!

Here are those additional costs for you to consider:

The Type of Houseboat

There is a range of houseboats for you to consider, each with its own positive factors and floors.  For example, narrowboats need to be less than seven feet wide to fit through the canal locks along the Thames, Dutch Barges need to be moored on rivers and not canals, and yachts command a premium.


Houseboat prices vary greatly, from £100,000 to more than £1 million, depending on the size, condition, location etc.

Financing your Houseboat

Houseboats are often sold to cash buyers as a result of mortgages being more difficult to get on a boat than they are for a house or a flat.


A British Waterways Licence costs around £400 a year for a small boat.  On top of this, you’ll need a Boat Safety Scheme certificate.  They start at £100 but only need to be renewed once every four years.


The length of your vessel, location, facilities and the type of boat are determined when working out your mooring fees, per week.

Additional costs

As well as all the expenses above, there are also domestic bills that need covering.  Water and electricity/gas/diesel etc. There’s also council tax and insurance required, the running costs; such as fuel, toilets and pumps, and you may also want to pay a yearly maintenance fee in order to get your boat checked to make sure it is still in working order.

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