Boat Insurance Magazine

Pros and Cons of Living on a Boat

For those who enjoy the luxury of a nomadic lifestyle, or those who are retired, living aboard a boat can have its allure. The number of people residing on boats in the UK has grown exponentially in recent years, as people shift away from traditional housing set-ups and extortionate rents. However, living on a boat is not for everyone. It comes with its own unique set of pros and cons.

Pros of Living on a Boat


One key reason many choose to take to the seas is the reduced living expenses enjoyed when living on a boat. Compared to a house or a flat, the overheads for living aboard a boat are far lower. Living on a boat incurs its own set of costs including marina fees, maintenance costs and specific taxes. Additionally, you will need to factor in things like insurance for your boat, depreciation and general living costs such as food and utilities.

Houseboats typically sell at around a few thousand pounds, If you do not have a permanent mooring, you can live rent free and enjoy a life free from council tax. Thus, especially in areas known for very high rent, living on a boat acts as a viable and affordable alternative. Many choose this kind of lifestyle whilst they are saving money.


For those eco-warriors, living on a houseboat can afford you a more eco-friendly lifestyle. Compared to a traditional house, the energy consumption is far lower and you are forced to live more frugally. Relying on water tanks means that you automatically reduce your consumption and are more likely to recycle and reuse water. Additionally, heating the boat requires wood and seamless coal, meaning that there is minimal use for an electricity generator. For an extra step, you can also equip your boat with solar panels which is far easier and cheaper than setting up the same energy solution in a house.


Life on a boat is often idealised. It boasts a calmer lifestyle, allows people closer access to nature and the outdoors and encourages minimalism of possessions. It can also be extremely freeing to live on a boat. Typically, your boating neighbours can provide a good sense of community and act as a supportive network.

Cons of Living on a Boat

Lack of Space

This may be one of the main drawbacks of living aboard your boat, especially if you are looking to house more than one person. Boats, whilst incredibly space-efficient, do not give much space for storage. After your boat is furnished and fully equipped, you will quickly run out of room. Being ruthless about what items you take aboard can be stressful and you may benefit from paying for an external storage unit.

Hard Work

There is no denying that living on a boat takes a lot of work. More than a traditional house, life on a boat requires on-going maintenance. With the constant moisture comes risk of rusting, mould and mildew. Thus, keeping your boat clean and ensuring that your tank is regularly filtered and flushed is essential practice.

You need to work hard to keep your boat warm, make sure that your boat is properly tied, take into account privacy and protection and regularly empty your tank.

If you are choosing to be constantly on the move, there is even more work involved. Depending on where you are choosing to dock, some laws state that boats without permanent moorings need to move every 14 days.

Exposed to the Elements

One of the main perks of living on a boat is arguably the closeness to nature. Yet, this comes with its own set of risks and challenges. Living on board a boat exposes you to bugs, wildlife and bad weather. Infestations of bugs are common as is the likelihood of mice and rats. This makes it even more important to keep your boat tidy. Additionally, extreme weather, such as heavy rainfall or sub-zero temperatures, has the potential to ruin your time aboard the boat. Making sure you are correctly kitted out for all weathers is an essential part of boat life taking into account everything from correct clothing to ensuring your pipes do not freeze.