Living on a narrowboat or barge might be a dream for many, but the practicalities can be daunting; filling up water tanks with a hose, having to take the boat off to pump out and running out of electricity.
But it’s now possible to buy a modern static houseboat, which is just like living in a flat on water with the advantage of a beautiful location and being cheaper than a home on dry land.
Caroline Clark, 55, bought a luxurious 45 ft by 16 ft floating home from Prestige for £230,000 and is waiting to move in next month.
Tranquil: Caroline Clark and her dog Aggie on their Prestige floating home at Priory Marina on the Great River Ouse, just outside Bedford
After she sold her bungalow in a village just outside Bedford, she put the deposit down and worked out with Prestige exactly what she wanted for her home: a study rather than a second bedroom, and a separate bathroom and walk-in wardrobe instead of an en suite.
Since April, she’s been living in the showhome at Priory Marina on the Great River Ouse, just outside Bedford, where there will eventually be 12 houseboats.
Caroline had frequently walked round the back of the marina and seen all the boats moored there and thought they seemed appealing.
So, when idly looking for properties for sale, she saw the floating homes advertised on Rightmove and couldn’t believe it.
‘I sent the link to my parents saying I’m tempted by this, then went to see it and immediately fell in love with the whole place.
I remembered going to Amsterdam in the past and seeing the houseboats on the canal and thinking what a fantastic way of life, but never imagining that I could live like this in Bedford,’ she says.
She hadn’t thought about living on a boat before as she didn’t want all the hassle involved and the potential cold in winter.
‘But these houseboats give you all the benefit of a boat, in fact with much better views out of the French doors, as well as the luxury of central heating, sewerage and running water from the mains.
‘As I live on my own, apart from with Aggie my rescue dog, those things are important.’
Caroline says she can walk into the centre of town in 20 minutes, swim in the river and she’s bought a big Canadian kayak.
‘You start doing different activities when you live on the water. It’s very sociable here, too. So far, there are four other boats on my pontoon and the owners are all in their 50s/60s.’
But it’s not that cheap to live on.
‘You can’t get a mortgage and insurance is quite expensive as if anything goes wrong, you have to pay for salvage.
‘I pay about £900 a year and £3,000 in annual mooring fees, which includes water and sewage,’ she says. ‘But it would take a lot to tempt me away from here.
‘There is a lovely tranquillity about this place and you feel connected to nature. It’s like a little haven in Bedford, tucked away, and it feels magical to be part of it.’
Nine similar floating homes are also available at Sawley Marina in Nottinghamshire, priced from £179,000, prestigehomeseeker.com.
Richard Homewood, of River Pod Houseboats, has been making bespoke floating homes for more than four years.
Based in Kent, he delivers them on a low loader lorry all over the UK and these environmentally friendly houseboats have been bought by people as young as 22 and as old as 80, who all want a slightly different way of life on the water.
‘All our boats are on mains water and plug into mains electric. Sewage can either be pumped out every six months, plumbed into mains drainage or if someone chooses to have a Klargester system installed, the dirty water is treated and sanitised before going back into a river or into a holding tank. Then it only needs to be pumped out every one to two years,’ says Richard.
A couple of these homes have been bought for use as an Airbnb.
Tara and Quentin Branson, who are commercial builders, live near Allington Lock on the River Medway, Kent.
They bought The Lady Florence, which is moored alongside their land for £100,000 and have been surprised how much interest they have had in it.
‘We’ve used it a bit, it’s so beautiful on the river and a step away from our hectic life, but it’s fully booked through August.’
And they are so pleased with their investment, they are thinking of buying another. One, two and three-bedroom River Pods start from £68,000, theriverpodcompany.co.uk.
One problem to be aware of when buying a houseboat is finding a suitable mooring, which can be difficult. So, if you can find a houseboat that already has a ‘home’, then that should really float your boat.