What You Need to Know When Living on a Narrowboat


Living on a narrowboat has become incredibly popular over recent years, with many choosing to opt for this unique way of life, allowing them to connect easily with nature on a daily basis.

In addition to this, there has been a huge draw from people without experience of narrowboat living who are looking for affordable accommodation, with the cost of living increasing.

Many will know that narrowboat living is not for the faint-hearted. Although an incredibly charming way to live, the cosy interiors, chilly weather and emptying of the toilet may not appeal to everyone.

Have you thought of taking the plunge yourself? If so, you may find the following guide useful as it covers everything you’ll need to know before making the final decision…

What are the costs?

With the average house price in London standing at an eye-watering £606,102 (almost 17 times the average salary!) and the cost of a narrowboat around £57,000 for a narrowboat, it’s easy to see why many people are tempted to make a new life on the waterways.

Something to note, however, is the renovation costs that may be involved when buying your narrowboat. A renovation project could cost you £15,000, with a brand new, top-end boat built to your specifications setting you back up to £150,000.

Renting a narrowboat is not as common as buying your own but could give you some experience on the waterways before purchasing a narrowboat. Sharing a narrowboat with an existing owner is another good way for you to learn the ropes before deciding if the realities of boating life match up to your ideas.

What are the additional costs?

As with any large purchase, there are additional costs involved after buying your narrowboat. Here are some of the costs you’ll need to consider…

● Residential mooring – mooring fees in the UK vary depending on the boat size and region of residence, but typically range from £3,000 to £18,000 per year
● Boat Safety Certificate – this is the equivalent of your boat’s MOT and is typically around £180
Insurance – cruising distances will determine cost, but budget around £250-£500 per year plus contents insurance
● Heating, electric and fuel – depending on how frugal you are, your bills will vary, but they should be significantly less than in a one-bed London flat
● Maintenance – you’ll need to take these costs into account. We’ve put together a video guide on how to become an expert on narrowboat maintenance


In London, permanent moorings can cost up to £20,000, so ‘continuous cruiser’ licences are popular. As a result, you will only need to pay for your boat license, which ranges from £500 to £1,600 a year depending on the length of your boat.

While you can only moor for up to 14 days at a time (with some premium spots only for 12 hours), with permanent mooring permits being so expensive, it might be an alternative to permanent mooring.

Narrowboat security

When immersed in the boating community, it’s easy to feel overly secure, but it’s important that your narrowboat is protected.

Door and window locks are of course a must as are additional fastenings and bars as additional deterrents. It’s worth considering installing alarms or CCTV to enhance security and to avoid leaving valuables in view through windows.

Fuel prices are at a premium, so consider fitting a fuel cap lock to ensure you won’t be stranded.

Do you own a luxurious narrowboat? Visit our specialist boat insurance page to discover more about our services, or request a callback from our concierge team.

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