top of page

Living on a Boat: A Guide to the Boating Lifestyle in the UK


Living on a boat offers a unique and adventurous lifestyle, allowing you to experience the tranquility of the water while enjoying the freedom of a nomadic existence. In this comprehensive guide, we will address some common questions about living on a boat in the UK. From the legalities to the costs involved, we'll explore the ins and outs of this alternative way of life.

Can you live permanently on a boat?

living on a boat in devon

Absolutely! Many people choose to make a boat their permanent residence. Living on a boat offers the opportunity to embrace a minimalist lifestyle, connect with nature, and enjoy the sense of community among fellow boaters.

Can you legally live on a boat in the UK?

Can I claim benefits if I live on a boat?

If your boat is your main residence and you meet the eligibility criteria, you may be eligible to claim certain benefits, such as housing benefit or council tax reduction. It's advisable to consult with the appropriate authorities to understand the specific requirements and processes involved.

living on a boat in the uk

How much does it cost to live on a boat in the UK?

The cost of living on a boat varies depending on factors like the size and type of boat, location, and your personal lifestyle choices. Expenses typically include mooring fees, maintenance and repairs, insurance, fuel, and utilities. On average, the cost can range from £300 to £2000 per month.

Again this can be much cheaper if you're frugal, on a small boat and as self sustaining as possible, or if you're on a huge boat, live fairly luxuriously and hire other people in to do your boat work, then it'll end up costing a huge amount more.

fishing from our live aboard boat in cornwall

Do you pay taxes if you live on a boat in the UK?

Yes, boat owners are subject to certain taxes and fees. Council tax is applicable if you have a permanent mooring, while Canal and River Trust charges apply for cruising on their waterways. Additionally, you may need to pay income tax and other personal taxes depending on your circumstances.

Is living on a boat cheaper than a house in the UK?

Living on a boat can be more affordable than owning or renting a traditional house in the UK. However, it's important to consider all costs involved, including mooring fees, maintenance, and fuel expenses. Comparing individual circumstances will help determine the financial feasibility of living on a boat.

How much are mooring fees in the UK?

Mooring fees in the UK vary depending on location and the type of mooring. Prices range from around £200 to £1,500 per month for a residential mooring, while marina fees may be higher. 

Much of this is going to depend on your location, how big your boat is, how secure the mooring/ marina is, how remote, there are so many factors, but for some context we lived in Southampton for a couple of years aboard Cadoha, whilst we worked and our mooring fees for a 38ft boat came to about £420 a month (not including electric).

river dart devon
Living on our boat in UK

Can I just buy a boat and use it in the UK?

Yes, you can buy a boat and use it in the UK. However, there are rules and regulations you need to follow. Ensure your boat is registered, obtain the necessary licenses, adhere to safety guidelines, and be aware of navigational restrictions in certain areas.

But that's pretty much what we did, we bought Cadoha without any official training, licences or qualifications and moved on to her. Carly has since completed her 'Day Skipper' course though.

What is a good size boat to live on?

The ideal size of a boat for living aboard depends on personal preferences and lifestyle requirements. Generally, boats ranging from 30 to 50 feet in length provide sufficient space for comfortable living. It's essential to consider factors such as storage, sleeping arrangements, and living areas when choosing the right size.

Our boat is currently 38ft in length and two adults and a dog very comfortably live aboard.

living on a boat in uk cooking on a wood burning stove

What is it like to live on a boat in the UK?

Living on a boat in the UK offers a remarkable lifestyle filled with breathtaking scenery, the camaraderie of the boating community, and the tranquility of being on the water. However, it also requires adaptability, self-sufficiency, and an appreciation for the unique challenges that come with boat living, such as weather conditions and maintenance responsibilities.

The warmer months are very easy, especially when you've made as many boat upgrades as we have but the winter can be a real challenge, which is why we've been building out our boats winter systems which you can always check out in our 'Project 365' page.


Living on a boat in the UK can be an exciting and fulfilling way of life. From the legal aspects to the costs involved, we have explored the key considerations for those interested in embarking on this adventure. Whether you choose to moor in Studland Bay, Poole Harbour, Portland Harbour, Mupe Bay, Worbarrow Bay, or Lulworth Cove, the boating lifestyle offers the chance to experience the beauty of the UK's waterways while embracing a sense of freedom and serenity. So, if you're ready to set sail into a world of endless possibilities, living on a boat might just be the lifestyle for you.

Living on a boat in UK and catching our own fish
bottom of page