Live Life on the Water in a Houseboat

Houseboats are portable properties usually designed to be used on canals. Capable of fixed positioning that allows 'plug-in' to utilities, houseboats can also have onboard, independent facilities. Often a popular choice for first-time property buyers, you can find a large range of liveaboard boats for sale on eBay.

What living facilities are available on a house boat?

Houseboat configurations are as wide-ranging as any land-based property. Depending on whether you want to use your houseboat as a holiday home or as a more permanent residential solution, consider the following:

  • Sleeping quarters: These can be open-plan in style like a caravan, or have a separate area dedicated to sleeping. Some houseboat interiors are fully convertible, offering sleeping, dining, and relaxation areas that can be configured according to need.
  • Cooking facilities: From a hotplate and microwave set-up to a full galley kitchen, choose your houseboat facilities to suit your cooking style. Power can be sourced either at a mooring, from a generator, or through a rechargeable/solar battery.
  • Washing: Bathrooms on houseboats look just like a normal bathroom, but have their own water and sewage system. Sinks and showers get their water from onboard holding tanks which need to be refilled regularly.
Using a house boat on canals in the UK

There are three main categories of houseboat that are permitted on canals and inland waterways: narrowboats, widebeams, and Dutch barges/cruisers. Legally, the maximum speed limit on a canal is 4 mph, although the most common cruising speed is 3 mph. Houseboats are not suitable for ocean travel, but are specifically designed for intercoastal waters.

What are the different types of house boat available?

For those looking for liveaboard boats, there are a number of options available. Each type has a fixed width, but lengths may vary considerably. Generally speaking, a 30-40ft-long boat offers ample space for a holiday home, while 50-ft-plus is more comfortable for those who plan to liveaboard. Types include:

  • Narrowboat: A standard 7ft wide, this type of houseboat is suitable for the British canal system.
  • Widebeam: Slightly larger than a narrowboat, this type of houseboat is also referred to as a barge.
  • Dutch barge/cruiser: Typically larger than both narrowboats and widebeams, this type of houseboat can still fit on a canal.
Things to consider when mooring a house boat

Some mooring operators won't lease a mooring to a boat owner who lives permanently on their boat. There are also laws about how long you can stay in one place. Before planning to relocate or dock for any length of time, it is important to research the rules and regulations specific to the town, city, or region you want to live in.