Living On A Narrow Boat With Children
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Wed May 21, 2014 at 10:37am

Let’s Look At The Reality

With more and more people looking for a different lifestyle and opting to live aboard we thought we would take a look at the ins and outs of living aboard a narrowboat with a family.

families living on the canal system


If your children are still of school age then having a permanent mooring is a really important consideration.  

Before buying a narrow boat you need to look into your mooring options, check out the area and work out how you will get the children to and from the school every day. 

If you don’t have a car; is there public transport, is the school in walking distance, and are there other families in the area you could take turns with doing the school run.  In the school holidays you will be able to take advantage of this time and do some cruising.


It’s important that your children are able to visit their school friends and also have friends to stay.  If you are lucky there may be children in the area of your mooring who your children can interact with.
It’s also important to remember that they will want to see their friends from school.  Ideally, they should be able to maintain those friendships outside school hours. 
Also remember that your children may want to attend after school activities like birthday parties and organised clubs.


Living on a narrow boat by it's nature has its limitations when it comes to space.  If you intend to liveaboard full time, then ideally you should buy a narrow boat that will allow a certain amount of privacy for all those living aboard.  Separate bedrooms and an area where the children can play are important factors.  Not having enough living space will make day to day life stressful and awkward.  No one enjoys living on top of each other, we all need our own space.


Keeping your children safe whilst living on a boat is actually similar to educating them about road traffic and the hazards in the home.  With supervision, life jackets and general boat safety rules explained there is no reason why a young family can’t live safely and happily on a narrow boat.


As we have mentioned many times before; living on a narrow boat is definitely a lifestyle choice, it is very different to living in a house.  You and your family will need to adjust to this way of life and understand that living on the canal is very different to living in a brick home.  For example you need to be careful with water and electricity usage and accept that sometimes internet connection may not be possible.

On the up side, your family will benefit in many other ways; growing up close to nature, living in a strong community and learning different values that perhaps children don’t learn in traditional homes.  Some children don’t have a back garden, let alone the opportunity to explore the countryside and towpaths.  Living on a narrow boat gives you and your family the chance to explore the great British country side.

Owning lots of possessions isn’t possible due to lack of space and storage on board.  So your children will learn to value other things in life that are not always based on material items.


Living on a narrow boat also enables families to live in locations that they wouldn’t necessarily be able to afford, because house prices are beyond their budget in that area.  No such problem when you own a boat, although you may find moorings are more expensive than in cheaper house price areas. 

You may also be able to base your location around a certain school that you would like your children to attend, in an area that you couldn't afford to buy a house.

So weigh up the pros and cons and decide if this is a realistic option for you and your family.  Consult your children if they are of an age to understand, ask them for their views and concerns.   After all moving from a brick home to a narrow boat will have a direct effect on them.  If they are truly against the idea it’s going to be a rocky start in more ways than one.

If you are thinking of starting a family while living on a narrow boat, then it should be slightly easier as your children will know no different and have an acceptance of boat life from the start.

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