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I bought after feeling trapped by renting in London – I used to pay £800 a month for room in a house but now I have my own place and only pay for bills


A woman has opened up about the realities of narrowboat life – saying that while there are big savings to be made financially, boat life is not for everyone.

Emily Jones, 32, who is originally from Merseyside, has lived on her narrowboat named ‘Florrie’ in London for four years with her dog, Beautiful. 

She made the move after feeling ‘trapped’ by London’s property market, previously sharing a house with five other people for £800 a month.

After her dad passed away in 2020, Emily bought Florrie for £21,000 using a loan.  

Now her rent is the price of her bills but it’s not all sunshine and roses as Emily has still been forced to shell out thousands for unexpected expenses.

Emily Jones has opened up about what life is really like living on one of London's narrowboats (pictured with her dog, Beautiful)

Emily Jones has opened up about what life is really like living on one of London’s narrowboats (pictured with her dog, Beautiful)

Emily, a project manager, said: ‘I didn’t really know how to get out of [the house share situation] but I always liked the idea of narrowboats. 

‘After my dad died, I reassessed my life, and thought, “Well, I’m going to do everything I can to try and live that lifestyle”.

‘I spent about four months looking for the right kind of boat and that’s when I found Florrie.’

A narrowboat is a type of canal boat, built especially to fit the UK’s narrow waterways. Most are around six feet wide and either moored semi-permanently or constantly cruising. 

Emily confessed that there are difficulties living on a narrowboat – and has scarcely been able to have a proper shower since she moved in.  

She said: ‘She was a project boat and even though I’ve been living on her for nearly four years, there are still a lot of things that aren’t quite right.

‘I haven’t finished renovating [and] my bathroom still isn’t quite how I would like it.

‘I mostly haven’t had a working shower the whole time I’ve lived on Florrie.

Emily filmed the interior of her narrowboat Florrie

She shared a lovely snap of water reflections on the wooden walls

Though Emily has saved money on rent, she warns people not to expect narrowboat life to be similar to living in a normal flat. Pictured: The interior of Florrie, Emily’s boat

She admitted she needed to clean her windows as she showed her followers around her boat

She admitted she needed to clean her windows as she showed her followers around her boat

The project manager, 32, comes across beautiful views from the front of her boat as she travels

The project manager, 32, comes across beautiful views from the front of her boat as she travels

‘The biggest challenges on the boat are being organised. You have to plan where you are going, when to get water, and [when] to get rid of waste (human or otherwise).

‘If you are left short without fuel for the fire, a full toilet, or no water, things could get a bit sticky.

‘The locks themselves can be hard work but possible solo, which was a worry of mine, but now I love travelling alone. Even just a gentle cruise, you forget how much it takes out of you physically and mentally. I move every two weeks and have to plan a lot around those moves.

‘Getting rid of your belongings is also a mindset change – living on less can feel really difficult if you are not fully onboard with the idea. Once resigned to the fact, it’s liberating!’

Emily explained that boating life is a challenge but with the right mindset it can be enjoyed – the key is to not expect it to be like living in a house.

She bought Florrie for £21,000 with a loan and moved aboard with her dog Beautiful in October 2020, the same year her dad passed away.

She said: ‘Florrie’s a constant work in progress but completely liveable – there’s just always a compromise.

‘In the boating community, we are always told to bring out another £1,000 as you quickly realise that if you need any jobs done, they are always significantly more expensive than they would be in a house.’

Emily, originally from Merseyside, lives on her boat in London with her dog, Beautiful

Emily, originally from Merseyside, lives on her boat in London with her dog, Beautiful

Boat life and constantly moving around means that Beautiful gets a new dog walk every couple of weeks

Boat life and constantly moving around means that Beautiful gets a new dog walk every couple of weeks

Emily bought Florrie four years ago for £21,000 using a loan and now her rent is the price of her bills

Emily bought Florrie four years ago for £21,000 using a loan and now her rent is the price of her bills

Emily says you always need to be prepared as things can be tricky if you leave yourself without fuel for the fire

Emily says you always need to be prepared as things can be tricky if you leave yourself without fuel for the fire

Emily admits that because she is putting her boat’s renovations first, she’s not necessarily saving money either – although she believes this would ring true if she lived in a pricey London flat, too.

She spends around £3,000 a year on costs including the license, insurance, and diesel but admits she ‘does more cruising than most people around London’.

Emily said: ‘Fuel in the winter, which is things like coal and wood, then comes to a few hundred pounds a month.

‘My general bills compared to living in a house are a lot less as my solar panels mean that my electricity is essentially free. I also get my water as part of my licence for the Canals and Rivers Trust. 

‘Living in a boat and not having rent has freed up my mind so much – I can give more of myself to things that I want to do like hobbies and that is such a blessing.

‘I also have ADHD, which I didn’t realise until I was on the boat.

‘This lifestyle really helps me manage it because nothing comes easy; a house is convenient, but a boat isn’t.’

Emily recommends always being armed with chocolate and maps for cruising

Emily recommends always being armed with chocolate and maps for cruising 

Emily wanted a lifestyle change after living in a flatshare and after her dad passed away

Emily is pictured on her boat

Emily, pictured on her boat, said she wanted a lifestyle change after living in a flatshare and after her dad passed away

She says the biggest challenge on the boat is getting organised but now she doesn't see the appeal of a house

She says the biggest challenge on the boat is getting organised but now she doesn’t see the appeal of a house

She continued: ‘I get a different dog walk every two weeks. I have to think a little bit more about my fuel and water’s coming from and I have to use eco-friendly products because the water is going back into the canal.

‘You have to go into the lifestyle with the right attitude and you also have to be open to learning how to do new things because good tradespeople are hard to come by.

‘But when you are willing to get your hands dirty, you quickly learn that there’s an amazing community to help you out.

‘I’m always thinking of new projects now I’m not trapped in a house share. I’ve just bought a classic mini car with a friend because I’m gonna get to know engines more.

‘Boating pays back what you put into it – I don’t see the draw of a house anymore.’

According to the Canal & River trust, there are more than 34,000 boats on its 2,000-mile stretch of waterway in the UK. 



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