Life on a narrowboat: Woman moves out of shared apartment and buys houseboat: “Not as cheap and easy as many people think”

The idea of ​​swapping her shared apartment for a life on the water came to Laura Woodley four years ago.

Life on a narrowboat: Woman moves out of shared apartment and buys houseboat: “Not as cheap and easy as many people think”

The idea of ​​swapping her shared apartment for a life on the water came to Laura Woodley four years ago. During the coronavirus lockdown, she struggled to pay rising rent costs in London. "The standard way of life never appealed to me," she is quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. "I had a fantastic experience living in a shared apartment. But when I turned 31, I felt the need to live alone. Living on a boat felt like the logical next step."

She researched life on boats, took out a loan, drove to Northampton and picked up her new home - the 14.6 meter long "May Moon". Since then, the influencer has kept her followers regularly updated about her life on the narrowboat on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube. And it also shows here: This life is not suitable for everyone. "It's not as cheap and easy as people think."

Many people would think that she lives on a boat to save money. But she says she actually spends more than she used to when she rented an apartment with roommates. "Most people I've met think that I don't work or that I'm rich and bought the boat because I'm rich," she explains in one of her videos. "Obviously neither assumption is true. I work, mostly from home, and I'm not rich." She still has to pay monthly loan installments of 650 pounds (around 760 euros) until 2025. One of the main expenses is the license to keep the boat on British waters - the equivalent of around 70 euros per month. For laundry, coal and wood for heating as well as the costs for emptying the toilets, the equivalent of another 220 euros per month would be added. Plus around 200 euros monthly maintenance costs. “You should also always have some money in your savings account in case something unexpected happens.” When her fireplace failed a few years ago, she had to pay more than 800 euros in repair costs.

In general, it's better to have mechanical skills in order to master life on a boat. “If you live on a boat, you have to be an engineer, plumber and electrician,” Woodley said. Not only is the work expensive, but it is also difficult to find specialists for boats who are not overpriced and ideally available immediately.

This is also the case with privacy. “You live on the riverside path, there are people walking back and forth, you can hear them and they can hear you.” In London there are often double berths, which means you have the riverside path on one side and a neighbor on the other side. You sometimes have to climb over your neighbor's boat to get in and out. You would also have to get used to the fact that some walkers take photos, simply because they don't think about the fact that people live there.

In addition, you only have limited space. "Unless you buy a huge Dutch barge or a wide boat, you have to downsize. You have to get rid of most of your possessions in order to fit everything you need on the boat," says Woodley. After all, the space on the boat would not only be taken up by your own things, but also by boating utensils.

There are also no good solutions for toilets on board. Woodley itself has an emptying toilet. "I actually wanted to have a composting toilet like most people have on boats. But that too has its own problems. No matter what toilet you have, you're going to have to deal with it at some point. You're going to see things you don't necessarily want to see, and you're going to have to interact with things you don't necessarily want to interact with."

And many of the things that are taken for granted in a rented apartment are not the case on a boat: "It would be fantastic if you could just turn on the heating, turn on the tap or take a bath. Especially when you're hungover. It's precisely in moments like these that you feel the urge "Always turn off the water when you urgently want to take a shower, when you come home late at night and just want to make tea and there's no gas left," says the 35-year-old. "You'll be shocked at how quickly you can empty a water tank."

In addition to water, electricity is also an issue: "I'm not even a big electricity consumer, but just knowing that you have to charge the batteries means that I consciously limit myself when it comes to the use of devices." You also have to constantly think about where you can get the next supply of coal or wood.

Despite all the adversities that life on a boat seems to bring with it, she doesn't regret her decision: "There are also many positive things that make up for these disadvantages," she says. She enjoys the freedom that she can continue sailing on her boat at any time if she doesn't like it somewhere. Also about the fact that she learns a lot about herself, her own abilities or nature and the seasons. She also always has great encounters with strangers. "I'm so happy to live on a boat."

Watch the video above: Martin and Melanie Bauers dream of a life on the sea during their honeymoon. Now you have swapped your Dresden apartment for a catamaran off the Mallorcan coast. They have taken meticulous precautions for the safety of their two-year-old son.

Sources: Instagram, YouTube, Daily Mail