Inspired by Boat Wife's Motherboard Top Ten, I've wanted to write a post about boat living for a while. Recently I've been really struggling on board and have on more than one occasion expostulated "I want to live in a house!" along with a tirade on the myriad problems our water-borne home poses to any kind of sane living. So I thought I should write a "positive" top ten, but then realised that that may not give you much of a real idea about our day to day experiences - so here's a compromise, a well-balanced top ten: five good, five bad!
1. There's not much privacy on a narrowboat (especially on our mooring which is part of a World Heritage Site!). And people are pretty darned nosy sometimes!!
2. We have no garden or land of our own (other than the bit of towpath we're moored to, unofficially, where we can store wood and bikes, and have a few plants etc. So nowhere to decant the kids to easily on a good day unless really well supervised (which is pretty exhausting with a toddler). And nowhere for me to read a good book in the sun in peace :)
3. More than other boaters, we struggle for services as we have none installed yet. So we fill up several 5 litre water bottles every day from the BW water point and empty our cassette loo and have showers at a BW service block about 20mins drive away. We take our own rubbish and recycling to our nearest recycling centre, also about 20 mins drive.
4. Every space is multi-purpose, particularly at the moment whilst we're building, so our bedroom is also the playroom and "lounge" once the bed has been turned into a sofa; the dining area is also our "office" and everything else just has to fit in where it can! As you can imagine, this can be pretty chaotic...
5. Life is pretty physical and exhausting sometimes and as yet we have no "haven" like a permanent bedroom to retreat to when we feel ill or knackered or just need to mentally and physically shut the door on things for half an hour.Pros
1. We own our house (though we are paying off a small loan for it) and so are (a) not tied to a mortgage for the next 30 years and (b) don't have to put up with "inspections" and other hassles from rental agencies.
2. We don't get post, which I see as a bonus as we needn't put up with tonnes of junkmail, bills and nasty letters from your electricity supplier threatening to cut you off. We simply get any important mail delivered to a c/o address.
3. On that point, we have no service bills, just our licence and mooring fees to think about. We buy our own gas and generate our own electricity.
4. Having to create/look after/buy/collect/dispose of our own services and used items really makes us much more aware and frugal as consumers. On average we use about 20-30 litres of water a day, have a shower 2-3 times a week and try to keep our washing to a minimum (which is easier said than done with kids and our lifestyle). We get a vegbox delivered to our boat and try to make trips to the supermarket as rare as possible (particularly as we can get a lot of what we need locally).
5. We can move our house! We have plans to travel much of the South West network and would love to go to the Fens, but we do need to find a few spare weeks or months!