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We sold our house and bought a canalboat… we LOVE it – but there’s a reason why some people struggle


A couple who sold their house and moved into a canal boat have revealed why it is not a move for everyone.

Tim Clarke, 64, and his wife Tracey, 57, from Sussex swapped their three-bedroom semi for a 60-foot narrowboat and say they’ve never looked back.

Tracey said it ‘liberating’ to dispose of all the things they had collectively hoarded, only keeping photos to serve as memories.

Tim and Tracey also claim life on a boat is much cheaper than life in a conventional British home.

However, the couple say not everyone will find it as easy as they have to move onto a narrowboat.

After Tracey's eyesight started deteriorating and Tim was made redundant, financial difficulty ensued

After Tracey’s eyesight started deteriorating and Tim was made redundant, financial difficulty ensued 

The pair are beaming with joy as they enjoy life on a boat which they have lived on for ten years, and now spend time campaigning for disabled boaters

The pair are beaming with joy as they enjoy life on a boat which they have lived on for ten years, and now spend time campaigning for disabled boaters

Tracey told BirminghamLive: ‘Not everyone can cope with the confined space and being constantly on the move.

 ‘But there are plenty of other options too like living in a marina – it’s not for us but other people love it.’

The couple’s message to anyone considering moving onto a narrowboat is to ‘try it first’. 

Tracey and Tim first decided to change their lives after they were hit with financial problems in 2011, after issues with eyesight meant she had to quit her job.

Tracey said: ‘After I was forced to give up work, and Tim was made redundant, we were facing bankruptcy. We couldn’t pay our mortgage’.

‘We had a young family to care for and all sorts of different commitments. We were broke and in a really dark place’.

She claimed they had cleared out the majority of their belongings and moving onto a boat made them realise how much clutter they had accumulated.

The couple also say moving onto boat took the pressure of their finances. 

Narrowboats tend to range between £5,000 and £50,000, although this figure excludes the annual boat maintenance, insurance, coal, diesel and license boaters must pay for.

Tim and Tracey are part of the ‘continuous cruisers’ community, which means they have no fixed abode. This means they have to move to a new mooring fortnightly.

Official rules mean that anyone that lives on a boat has to move 20 miles every year at the very least.

While this may seem stressful to some, the couple enjoy travelling across the UK, admitting that sometimes they wake up without knowing where there day will take them.

The two are keen to explore the 2,500 miles of waterways in the UK, having already travelled the length and breadth of it alongside their guide dogs Ozzie and Loki.

Although their boat lifestyle has taken them all over the UK, the West Midlands seems to have won them over.

Today, Tim and Tracey Clarke spend their days cruising on a boat, ditching life in a three-bed semi detached house in Sussex

Today, Tim and Tracey Clarke spend their days cruising on a boat, ditching life in a three-bed semi detached house in Sussex

The couple are so keen on the region that they have registered with a church and GP locally. 

Tracey said: ‘There are 2,500 miles of waterways in the country, and we want to explore it all.

‘Sometimes we wake up in the morning and have no idea where we’ll end up.’

They now spend their time campaigning to make the waterways more accessible for those with disabilities, running the Accessible Waterways Association in a bid to do so.

Tracey’s waning eyesight, as well as Tim’s hearing impairment inspired the pair to introduce the boater’s equivalent of a blue badge.

They work with waterways authorities to make canals more accessible. 

Tracey and Tim both believe that the world of canals is much more social and equal than living conventionally.

She said: ‘I often say it’s a great leveller – it doesn’t matter how rich or poor you are, or how posh your boat is, we all have to moor up in the same places, use the same locks and empty our toilets together!’



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