Having explored the various costs to consider when owning a narrowboat in the previous section; this section is a case study to illustrate the actual costs associated with living-aboard a canal boat.

Buying a newHow much does it actually cost to live on a canal boat? canal boat
Narrowboat insurance is an essential living cost and a requirement of a CRT licence
On-going maintenance costs need to be factored in to living costs on a narrow boat

Annual Costs… How Much Does It Really Cost?

People often ask “how much does it cost to live on a canal boat?” There is no definitive answer to this as there are so many factors that influence your costs; how much cruising you do; what engine/power set up you have; what appliances you have on-board; coal or diesel fire; in a marina on shoreline hook-up or continuously cruising etc.

The previous section covers the variety of costs you need to consider budgeting for, however it is very difficult to provide accurate figures. The costs listed below are based on personal experience with the following scenario (as of 2018):

  • 69 x 11ft widebeam housing 2 adults, 1 child, a cat and a dog!
  • Moored on a Canal & River Trust towpath mooring with no shoreline hook up
  • Multi-fuel stove, burning a mix of coal and wood
  • Solar power set up – 5 panels; maximum 600 watts (45A)
  • Portable petrol generator with electric remote start
  • Gas cooker and hob
  • Webasto central heating system for radiator heating and hot water
  • Cassette toilet (no pump out costs)
  • High power draw from appliances: 12 v fridge and freezer; 12v TV; 40 inch 240v TV; 20 inch 240v TV; washing machine; microwave
  • Cruising per annum: 2-3 weeks per year, plus occasional weekends
  • Engine is run for approximately 30 minutes per day during the summer (often to power the washing machine), increasing to 2 hours per day in the winter.

Annual Costs… Fixed Costs Per Annum

  • Mooring fees £2309 (In a nearby marina, the mooring fees would be c. £4400)
  • C&RT Licence – River licence only £644
  • Insurance £581
  • Internet access (£30 per month MiFi 64GB data) £360

Total Fixed Costs Per Annum = £3,894

Annual Costs… Variable Costs Per Annum

  • Gas £150
  • Coal £564
  • Wood £20
  • Diesel (heating & cruising) £390
  • Petrol (generator) £725
  • Routine Servicing £400
  • Cassette Toilet Blue £100

Total Variable Costs = £2,349

Total Fixed & Variable Costs Per Annum = £6,243

Annual Costs… Other Costs To Budget

  • Hull Blacking (bitumen paint system recommended every 3 years) – approx. £800 (DIY inc dry dock facilities)
  • Anode replacement at same time as hull blacking – £400 (including welding)
  • Boat Safety Scheme (every 4 years) – from £150 plus any repairs required
  • Battery replacement (every 3 years) – £400

In 2017 we had a full re-paint of our boat as well as blacking, the costs for this work as follows:

  • Paint £665
  • Materials £232
  • Labour £925
  • Dry Dock (1 week) £700

Total cost = £2,522

Annual Cost Breakdown

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