Living on a narrowboat in retirement

19th May 2021

Are you looking for a change of pace in your retirement? A life of idly floating down the waterways might be the lifestyle for you. Let our guide on the pros and cons of living on a narrowboat in retirement help make your decision.

How to live on a canal boat

Deciding to pack your old life up and exchange it for one of blissful sailing is a big decision, and one that you may find hard to navigate. There are a range of things to consider such as costings, where to moor, and equipment needed.

Pros of living on a canal boat in retirement


Canal living is certainly more affordable than living in a regular house, narrowboats are generally priced between £20,000 and £100,000. For retirees with limited pension funds, this is typically a much more affordable lifestyle.

Your costs will vary depending on whether you remain in a residential mooring or continuously cruise. If you are looking to stay permanently moored, you will be paying for electricity to run your boat. If you would rather stay on the move, you might find yourself running on diesel.

However, it’s worth noting that residential moorings sometimes can be expensive depending on their location - which is something to bear in mind for your retirement plans.

New friends

The canal boat lifestyle is not reserved for one type of person. People from all walks of life choose to live their life floating along the waterways. The community of people living on narrowboats is like no other with a diverse group of people with similar values. As a retiree, you’ll be able to spend your time meeting new people and expanding your social circle to include people you may otherwise have never met. 

New experiences

Living on a canal boat will bring a range of new experiences – you’ll see new sites along your travels and, as mentioned above, you’ll have a range of new people to experience them with. From city night life to countryside pubs, life on a canal boat gives you the freedom to visit an array of locations.

For ideas on where to travel, check out our featured routes.


Nothing could be more relaxing than living out your golden years drifting down the canal. Those who live on narrowboats often talk of a slower pace of life. This is perfect for anyone in their retirement years giving them an opportunity to take a step back and appreciate life from a different, lighter environment.

However, what makes the waterways so perfect for retirement is the ability to add a bit of adventure into your new, peaceful lifestyle. With the option to pack up and move your home whenever you choose, living in a narrowboat is the best of both worlds.

Cons of living on the waterways when retired

Support system

It is no secret that humans need support and love. As fantastic as the canal lifestyle is, it can be very lonely being away from the people you love. Of course, this would not be an issue if you were to moor close to your current support system or you were able to build a strong relationship with others on the waterways.

Lack of mobility

Although sailing through the waterways is by far one of the most relaxing ways to spend your retirement, it does take a little bit of hard work. Managing canal locks, mooring the boat and even the simple action of getting in and out of your new home could be challenging for those with limited mobility. If you are considering buying a narrowboat to retire on, think carefully about the mobility you have and whether leaving the house would become too challenging.

Alternative to living on a narrowboat in retirement

Looking to move your life to the slower pace of the waterways in your retirement, but not sure you’re ready to commit to buying a canal boat? Try hiring a canal boat first. This way, you can experience the wonders of the waterway – but at your own pace, maintaining your social circle and support system, without uprooting your life and disrupting your routine.

Here at ABC Boat Hire, we have an array of fantastic canal routes to choose from. For any more information on canal tips for your next narrowboat holiday, get in touch with a member of our friendly team now at ABC Boat Hire.

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