“Why a boat?”, I hear you ask. You didn’t actually ask that? Oh well, let’s just pretend that you did for the sake of this little interlude.
The short answer is that I wanted somewhere cheap to live.
The longer, rather more convoluted answer is that I decided I wanted my own living space, but not necessarily a house. I knew I wanted the following:
- Somewhere to keep myself and my belongings safe.
- Somewhere to keep warm and dry that had a clear, secure delineation between “inside” and “outside”.
- Somewhere to wash, to prepare and eat food, to sleep and relax.
- Somewhere to call my own, my space, where people aren’t allwoed unless they’re invited.
A house will provide all of those things, but it will also come with attendant fees such as a mortgage/rent, service fees, etc. I can’t afford a mortgage on my wages. Renting is just paying someone else’s mortgage (and you don’t even get to keep the house at the end of it!) So, my options were somewhat constrained. I did think about living in a caravan or park home, but I’ve heard some horror stories about site owners not letting you use gas other than that which you purchased from the site office. In a marina, if I don’t like the rules, I can just move on. On a boat, I can do things like add solar panels without having to get planning permission – something that would likely be nigh-on impossible in a park home. I also get to see a huge variety of wildlife on the canal, literally right outside my door. If I want to go on holiday, or to the centre of Birmingham for a few days, I can take my house with me and have all of my creature comforts.
The boat I live on right now is actually owned by me – I don’t owe anyone any money, so nobody can take it off me if I lose my job. Another thing that concerned me was the ongoing costs. I’m in a marina right now, but I have sufficient funds saved up to pay for at least a year’s mooring. And if the worst happened and I lost my job, I could reasonably easily become a continuous cruiser as the boat is fitted out well for the cruising lifestyle. With a mortgage, I’d have to keep paying it or lose all of the benefits of the house. As I own the boat outright, losing my job would be extremely inconvenient, but not a complete disaster. With a mortgage, I have to be consistently employed for the next 25 years. I certainly hope to be working for that period, but I also have to think about what the economy will be like in the year 2041.
I find a great deal of comfort in knowing that I own my own home. I’m not paying someone else off, either a landlord or a bank through a mortgage. It’s all mine. It’s reasonably well specified and quite comfortable – just tonight I lay on the bed and giggled with delight at everything I have. I can fiddle with and adjust things without worrying about it being someone else’s property.
There are of course some downsides to living on a boat, such as lack of space and attendant costs like blacking (having the hull painted with bitumen to prevent corrosion). There’s also the choice between finding a mooring/marina and becoming a continuous cruiser, with the up and down sides of both. It’s certainly not for everybody. However, I’m finding that it is definitely for me.