Can I afford it? No. Is that likely to stop me?
Also no. Definitely.
I’m currently flat-hunting, and as stressful as flat-hunting is during normal times, I can assure you it’s even worse during a pandemic. And even as I countenance squeezing myself into a coffin-like mezzanine sleeping area just to save £20 a month on the rent, help has floated serenely into view with this charming houseboat, currently listed on Rightmove for a shade under £150,000.
Of course, I can’t afford this boat (duh, I’m 28 years old and pay Zone 2 rent), but the existence of such a dreamy home and lifestyle combo does nourish the soul as I bend my back, stoically, to another round of flat viewings. The boat – named Kathleen Alexander (argh we even share a name, this was meant to be!) – is a lovingly-constructed narrowboat that somehow has room for two bedrooms, a bathtub, wood burning stove, comfy living area, well-equipped kitchen, and all the wholesome hobbies you’d no doubt take up if you lived here.
The houseboat was kitted out as recently as 2019, and has been clad in low-maintenance weathering steel to give it a striking, industrial-chic look. That sense of style permeates inside, with whitewashed wooden floors, smart tiling, handsome wooden fittings, and artfully chosen houseplants creating a homely feel.
It’s bigger than it looks, too; as a ‘widebeam’ narrowboat, you’ve got dimensions of 60′ x 12′ to play with – making it a good four feet wider than this stylishly skinny house (and a good £750,000 cheaper, I might add). There’s certainly enough space to rival a snug two-bedroom flat here, and a two-bedroom flat doesn’t have the advantage of upping sticks and floating away if you don’t like the neighbours – thanks to a ‘Continuous Cruising’ license that’ll let you bob all over town.
The master bedroom contains a double bed, plenty of wardrobe space, and direct access to the prow of the boat, which can be used as an outdoor seating area for sunset sipping. Meanwhile, the spare bedroom can be used for any number of purposes, from a home office, to housing your little ‘uns, or even turning it into a kickass games room/home cinema (you can see where my priorities lie). You can even do what one London couple has already done, and start churning out freshly-baked bread and pastries!
Solar power is used to power the boat, so your carbon footprint is kept to a happy minimum – the only compromise being that you’ll have to be OK with the boat’s compost toilet. You may also need to regularly update family and friends about your whereabouts, too; that Continuous Cruising license stipulates that you’ve got to move every two weeks and cover around 20-30 miles of water each year. On the plus side, it means you don’t really need to choose between living in Maida Vale or Haggerston – if you’re tired of one, simply motor on over to the other. It’s the best way to tour London’s charming canalside spots, after all.
I’m not the first Secret London writer to fall for the charms of a houseboat, and I certainly won’t be the last. Still, the allure of being able to simply float away from one’s problems is a tough one to ignore…
Check out the Rightmove listing here.
Also published on Medium.