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Living in London: Narrowboat vs. Flat Costs

In the face of London's living costs skyrocketing, many are eyeing unconventional living solutions like narrowboats. But does this lifestyle shift actually save you money? Let's delve into the financial comparisons between living on a narrowboat versus residing in a flat in London.


Average cost of buying a flat in London: £440,000

Buying a flat in London averages around £440,000, with prices varying based on location. Schemes like shared ownership aim to assist first-time buyers. There are a number of schemes in place to help first-time buyers onto the property ladder, including the shared ownership scheme. New developments across the capital offer opportunities for those stepping onto the property ladder.

Average cost of buying a narrowboat in London: £57,000

The price of buying a narrowboat depends on the amount of space you want and the amount of work you are willing to do. It is possible to pick up a 'project' for as little as £15,000 or you could spend around £150,000 on a high-spec new boat. When choosing a boat it is worth noting that the size of the vessel can affect mooring costs as fees are typically charged per foot. The average narrowboat is around 57ft due to the size of UK locks and as a rule of thumb the cost of a narrowboat is around £1,000/ft, however, this can vary greatly.

Average monthly cost of renting a one-bedroom flat in London: £1,550

Renting a one-bedroom flat in London averages around £1,550 per month, varying by borough. Opting for shared housing can significantly lower this cost, offering flexibility without hefty deposits. The main benefit of renting over buying is that you have more freedom to move around should you change jobs or your circumstances change.

Average monthly cost of renting a narrowboat in London: £650

The primary reason for people living on narrowboats in the capital is to avoid the rental costs of a flat or house and so it is fairly uncommon to rent a narrowboat. That being said, it's an option worth exploring for those curious about canal living. Renting, particularly shared arrangements with owners, can slash costs to as low as £300 per month, with the average around £650.

Average monthly bills in a flat: £160

When considering either buying or renting a property it is important that your factor in the cost of bills every month. This needs to be added into your budget to ensure that you don't end up without electricity or water. Your average monthly bills will depend on the size and age of the property, the number of people living there, your provider and how much energy you typically use. You may also choose to pay for additional extras such as a TV licence which will also need to be factored in.

Average monthly bills on a narrowboat: £75

Monthly bills on a narrowboat typically total around £75, thanks to reduced energy consumption. However, additional expenses like fuel, heating, and maintenance must be factored in. Energy usage tends to spike during winter, similar to traditional housing. The boat's main electrical system will be run off batteries which are re-charged when the engine is running - as in a car. Again, any additional extras including a TV licence will need to be calculated into the monthly cost. Some permanent residential moorings can be in an expensive council tax band, so it is important that you research this carefully.

Other costs of a London flat

There are a number of costs when it comes to living in a flat in London, including agency fees, deposits, and potentially furnishing costs. Buyers must also account for survey fees and future repair expenses. It is important that you research these costs and are aware of them before you start making offers.

Other costs of a London narrowboat

Narrowboat living introduces unique costs like mooring fees, which can vary drastically based on location and permanency. Continuous cruising is a far cheaper option, often costing around £700 a year, but it means moving every two weeks which will impact commute times. You also need to consider the maintenance costs of a boat, including having the hull blackened every few years (which costs around £500).

Overall comparison

Narrowboat living offers a potentially more economical approach to London life, especially for buyers due to lower initial costs compared to flats. However, you must keep in mind that this is a lifestyle choice and requires a great deal of thought.

Discover the Benefits of Mooring at Poplar Waterside & Marina, Canary Wharf

Choosing to moor at Poplar Waterside & Marina offers a host of benefits. With its prime location in East London, residents enjoy convenient access to the city's vibrant attractions and amenities. The marina itself provides secure moorings, electricity hook-ups, and water points. The waterside surroundings provide a peaceful retreat amidst the bustling cityscape.

Narrowboat insurance from Towergate

If you do decide that the boating life is for you then it is important that you protect yourself and your belongings with the right insurance. Towergate Insurance offers narrowboat insurance covering market value, safeguarding against incidents like fire, theft, and personal accidents. Additional breakdown cover provides peace of mind during waterway journeys. For more information visit our dedicated narrowboat insurance page or call one of our specialist advisers on 0344 892 1987.

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