Living On Water: Houses vs. Houseboats

With rising rent prices and a relentless economic downturn, residents of Europe’s most expensive cities have been exploring a less expensive form of accommodation: houseboats.

Students, families, enthusiasts and first time buyers are just a few of the groups moving to the waterways of cities like London and Paris, but what are the advantages and disadvantages to living on a houseboat?

Firstly, the most obvious benefit is price. The average house in London costs around £388,000, whereas the price of a modest houseboat can start from as little as £20,000. In addition, houseboats can be purchased much like any other vehicle, without having to fork out for costly lawyer’s fees and duty taxes. This is not only a cost efficient purchase for property, but also time efficient.

Secondly: location, location, location. Houseboats are free to roam the waters, which means that you can park your boat at berths in some of the most exclusive addresses in the city. Mobility also allows you to change your scenery as often as you like.

There is of course the added romance of living on the water, spending sunny afternoons lazing on the deck in the sunshine. Thirdly, there is the attraction of community. Unlike vast swathes of the large cities of Europe, houseboat owners retain a strong community, helping each other out and socialising together.

There are, however, some disadvantages to living on the water. Foremost is the fact that many houseboats are lacking in luxuries. Although some boats may come with full mod cons, such as washing machines, tumble dryers etc., many owners have to hand wash. If you are on a budget, it can be expensive to get appliances that will fit a tight space, so you might have to buy appliances such as washing machines on finance plans.

Electricity can also be an issue; you may not even be able to power your appliances. Then there is the cold: living on freezing water during the winter months is not for the fainthearted, and heating often isn’t enough. There are also many extra costs to living on a boat, as you must rent your berth and pay waterways taxes, while maintaining the boat itself can be expensive.

Despite the disadvantages, for many the houseboat remains a realistic and promising option. According to the Residential Boat Owner’s Association, there are around 15,000 houseboats on Britain’s waterways, with around 30,000-50,000 residents on board.

This is a guest post by Elly, who has a passion for writing about Fashion, Beauty & Lifestyle across the world. She also tweets regularly on the latest updates in the fashion and retail industry, which can be found here (@Russell_Elly).