Living on a canal boat vs hiring a canal boat

25th November 2020

When asked to picture the life of someone who lives on a canal boat, many would imagine a generally much slower pace of life. Perhaps they imagine being close to nature and the leisurely life of floating down the canals of Birmingham or Cambridge. Or maybe they envision floating to the pub every weekend for Sunday dinner and drinks with friends. Either way, the imagined lifestyle is one of peaceful, laid-back bliss. Don’t get us wrong - living on a canal boat can certainly be like this, but there are certain things you need to know before you take the leap and move to the narrowboat way of life.

Living on a narrowboat

Interested in living on a canal boat? There are some things to consider before making the commitment. When deciding between living on a canal boat or hiring one out, it’s important to contemplate some of the following things:

Living on a canalboat vs hiring a canal boat – which is for me?

The cost of living on a canal boat

For the most part, living on a canal boat is more likely to save you money. There is an abundance of stories of young people moving to narrowboats to save quickly before buying their first house on land. However, you do still need to consider money when buying a canal boat. The first thing to note is that canal boats are technically not a good investment as their value depreciates the older they are. You need to consider that you may not make your money back if you choose to sell your narrowboat. However, if your narrowboat is your forever home, why let this stop you!

Compared to the cost of canal boat holidays, you might be persuaded to buy your own boat to live on along the waterways. However, it’s important to consider the cost of other things you might have to fork out for – including any breakages, fuel, water, your cruising licence, insurance, mooring fees and general boat maintenance.

DIY skills never go a miss

The laid-back lifestyle of the narrowboater might sound ideal for you, but when something breaks, will you be able to fix it? As with all homes, appliances in a canal boat can break at the most inconvenient times. Unlike most homes, however, it can be a lot harder to fix any issues.  Many people who live on canal boats have good DIY skills. Alternatively, you can contact a local boatyard or marina to help you.

You’re much less likely to experience breakdowns and issues on a canal boat holiday on the waters.


Something that many people have an issue with when they first move into their floating home, is the lack of space. Living in a canal boat requires a minimalist lifestyle due to the absence of storage - you are only able to keep the essentials. This lifestyle is not for everyone, but many people find decluttering reduces stress and creates, again, a more laid-back style of living.

On the other hand, renting a canal boat allows you to have the easy going way of life while still keeping all your belongings on land - giving you the best of both worlds.

Understanding where to moor

The canal life is relaxing and can always provide a sense of adventure - just sailing until you find a good spot to stop. However, there are certain rules and regulations that you need to follow when choosing where to settle for the night.


If you’re renting your narrowboat and looking for more information on where to moor, our blog post has you covered. If you are looking for a mooring visit, Everything Canal Boats.

Try a rental canal boat first

If you’re still yet to decide whether living on a canal boat is right for you, then why not consider trying it out for a while. Here at ABC Boat Hire, we offer canal boat holidays ranging from 3 to 28 days – you can really experience narrowboat living. If you are a canal boat beginner, we also offer canal boat holidays on quieter routes so you can get to grips with the controls before making any purchasing decisions.

We offer routes across the country, so you can get to know your local area or the area you want to moor in. Browse our range of canal boat locations to find the perfect adventure on the waterways, or get in touch with a member of our friendly team today. with a member of our friendly team today.

< Back