Lloyd says the sunrises are one of his favourite parts of narrowboat living (Picture: Mercury Press)
If you’re a renter in London, you’ll be familiar with the frustration of sending a large chunk of your paycheck off to your landlord every month.
More frustrating than that, though, are suggestions we should ‘just’ move away or get on the property ladder, as though these are workable solutions for those of us without a financial safety net (or a lottery win).
Many have chosen to take matters into their own hands, opting for unique city dwellings that aren’t extortionately-priced, such as warehouses or boats.
Lloyd Seaman, a business development executive from Northern Ireland, is one of those people, buying a barge after becoming tired of forking out for his dingy central London room.
He first purchased his canal barge, ‘Julia’, for £29,000 in September 2019, and spent over a year doing renovations for an extra £29,000 including labour costs.
Lloyd and his girlfriend, Ellie Williams, 29, now live on the water in Cookham, Berkshire, paying a £100 mooring fee each month and massively cutting their living expenses.
Lloyd said: ‘Renting in London was just ridiculous, I was paying £900 a month for a room in a house share, and wouldn’t know where to begin with the price to buy outright.
‘It made more sense for me to buy a barge to live on.’
The boat itself cost just under £30,000, a figure doubled by the price of renovations (Picture: Mercury Press)
On top of the mooring fee, the pair’s boating license and insurance sets them back roughly £100 per month, and coal for their stove comes in at £20 every few weeks.
Renovation costs inevitably made up a large portion of their initial outlay, but Lloyd managed to save on some labour costs by doing a lot of the work himself or with friends and family.
‘There were plenty of ups and downs during the renovations, and I definitely learned several new skills,’ said Lloyd, adding: ‘All the hard work has definitely paid off, I love the freedom that boat life gives you.’
Ellie, an accountant from Derbyshire, also found some bargains to keep their new home within budget.
She said: ‘We bought a fridge on Facebook Marketplace for £40, which fits everything we need and is certainly an upgrade from Lloyd’s original wine fridge.
‘We also got some spare mattresses from friends that we turned into cushions with plenty of comfy filling.’
Next on the agenda is replacing their charity shop coffee table with a custom-built workstation, but the couple are more than happy with their current set-up, filling the space with greenery.
‘With the plants, skylight and open plan space, it really feels like we’re living outside,’ said Lloyd.
Inside the space is bright and airy, but the couple do have to limit hot showers to save energy (Picture: Mercury Press)
It hasn’t been totally plain sailing, however.
He continued: ‘It was definitely hard making the transition from living in a house share to living on a boat.’
‘We’re completely reliant on solar power, so try and keep the fridge off with fewer daylight hours during winter, because they don’t charge up so quickly. We put things in a cool box instead.
‘Shower time also has to be limited as we’re not plugged into a water supply and we try not to use the washing machine on board.’
Ellie has continued to rent a flat in London which they currently use to do laundry, adding: ‘We’ll definitely miss that luxury if we both commit to living on the barge full-time.’
Despite the compromises the pair have had to make, they have both fallen in love with river living and are looking forward to travelling around come summer, before eventually selling up.
Lloyd said: ‘It’s incredible waking up on the river every morning and embracing the sounds of nature as well as viewing the sunrises.’
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