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I moved out of my home & save thousands living in a boat instead… it cost just £17k & I never want to live on land again

A DAD who moved out of his home to live on a narrowboat has saved a fortune and says he never wants to live on land again.

Initially, partner Angela Hughes wasn’t happy about the idea of moving to live on a canal and began to cry, especially after seeing the state the boat, which was for sale on Facebook Marketplace for just £17,000, was in.

Mark Lewis/ Media Wales
Wayne Aspland and Angela Hughes paid just £17,000 for their narrowboat but have done it up[/caption]
Angela Hughes/Media Wales
The couple share the 54ft long boat with their two dogs Phoebe and Bernie[/caption]
Angela Hughes/Media Wales
Wayne has transformed the barge and it is now fitted out with all mod cons[/caption]

Her partner Wayne Aspland, who converts vans into campers and motorhomes for work, was set on the idea though and now the couple are currently moored up at the southern end of the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal in Cwmbran, Wales.

Sharing the 54ft boat called Vaila with the couple, who are in their fifties, are their two dogs, border collies Phoebe and Bernie.

The boat has been completely transformed and is fitted out with all mod cons.

There’s a central heating system which runs on diesel and a fully functioning kitchen with a gas cooker and oven, a fridge and a freezer.

A decent sized lounge area is equipped with a flat screen TV.

There is also a double bed and a compost toilet.

The sofa, which doubles as a bed, is useful when Wayne’s daughter visits.

It’s also got high-speed wi-fi and a security system.

The barge also has energy and money saving features such as solar panels and they also have a log burner which help keep running costs down.

The couple used to live in a house in Oakdale, Caerphilly, but now Wayne jokes he wouldn’t be able to find his way there back to the property.

Wayne told Wales Online: “It has taken Ang a while to get into the idea of the boat but we haven’t looked back.

“I wish I could afford to retire now to be honest and just spend my life on here. Not that I want to wish my life away, but I can’t wait.

“I’ve not been back to the house for more than 10 minutes a week for the last 10 months. I have to dig out the postcode to find it.”

Having been moored up since December they’ll soon be setting off on their travels.

Not that they go very far as the landlocked canal is only 35 miles of navigable water and stretches as far as Brecon.

The speed limit on the canal is just a leisurely four miles an hour, with dog walkers often passing them on foot.

They intend on going to the Open Hearth pub first, then on to Pontypool and then Goytre Wharf to get some diesel.

‘REALLY EFFICIENT’

Wayne says the diesel system is “really efficient” and they haven’t topped up since November and have probably only used a quarter of a tank since then.

Ang says she loves the life and doesn’t find it boring at all as everywhere you stop is different and the scenery is “stunning”.

She said that over the past year, she has changed her mind about the boat, saying at first it was a stressful time as neither of them knew anything about what to do or where to begin.

Then she was left all alone on the boat as Wayne had to go to Spain for two weeks and she was sat on the boat on her own.

The boat was in a right state but she decided to paint it all white and it was then that it all grew on her and she loved being there.

‘GOOD FINANCIAL DECISION’

She said: “Suddenly it really grew on me. I loved being on it alone for that time. It was how peaceful it was. I think it’s a good financial decision and could be something I could see us selling the house and retiring on. I’m already here 15 days a month. It’s like being on holiday.”

Wayne had been getting tips on the best models to buy and how to do them up by watching clips on YouTube.

Before buying the barge, they had gone to a local boat show and looked at posh boats but deep down they knew they would never be able to afford one.

Ang knew they would only be able to buy a shell of a boat and she cried when she first saw it because she knew Wayne was going to buy it but she didn’t want it.

But she added: “Now I absolutely love it. It’s one of the best things we’ve ever done.”

RESTORED BOAT

Wayne then set about doing the boat up which has cost a small fortune.

The electrics went in first as there was no power, then the solar panels which charge the lithium batteries.

The batteries cost £2,500, the inverter cost a grand while the compost toilet was £1,200.

According to Ang, the boat stands for “bring out another thousand”.

The pair have a continuous cruising licence which means they can moor up anywhere along the canal system all year round but have to move on in waters run by the Canal and River Trust every two weeks.

The stretch they have been on for four months at Five Locks is run by Torfaen County Borough Council which don’t mind them staying for longer.

The Pros and Cons of Living on a narrowboat

It might seem an idyllic lifestyle living on a narrowboat and taking this at a slower pace but it’s not always plain sailing.

The Pros

Freedom – you get to choose where you stay and can move from the countryside to a city in possibly a few hours. If you don’t like your neighbours you can simply move.

Work anywhere – remote working has shot up with the Covid-19 pandemic and what could be better than working from a barge.

Declutter your lifestyle – There’s not a lot of space on a narrowboat but this can be an advantage as it forces your to get rid of things you don’t actually really need. Decluttering your life can do wonders for your wellbeing.

Life at a slower pace – anyone fed up of the 9-5 rat race and the pressure to earn money to pay for high-cost living can benefit from the easy-going life on a barge.

More environmentally friendly – while not entirely carbon neutral, living on a narrowboat can help the environment as you use less electricity, gas and fuel.

Improve fitness – living on a narrowboat doesn’t suit a sedentary lifestyle. There are endless tasks that will keep you active, such as operating locks, carrying coal and gas canisters, toilets to empty, wood to chop and weed hatches to clear.

Sense of community – many boaters feel a strong sense of community as they are with like-minded people to share tips and advice.

Saving money – one big advantage is the amount of money you can save. Big savings can be made on monthly living costs not only from using less gas and electricity but you don’t have any costly mortgage or rent payments to cover.

The Cons

Having to plan ahead – if you have a cruising licence you will need to move every 14 days, so you have to think about the future, where to next, do you have enough supplies to get there?

Limited space – narrowboats are restricted in space and you may find you feel claustrophobic living in a confined space. Plus, you may have to chuck out some prized possessions to fit everything you need in.

Lack of security – criminals may see a narrowboat as an easy target and you may need to invest in some quality security to keep your things safe.

Maintenance – Beware that you will need to learn about engine maintenance, such as how to repair a bilge pump or water pump. You will also need to ensure it is properly insulated and ventilated or you could be battling dampness and condensation.

The cost – while living on a boat is certainly cheaper than living in a property, it is not cost free. You have to pay for things like: a Canal and River Trust licence, insurance, engine and pump maintenance, blacking the hull, as well as running costs such as fuel and a TV licence.

Both Wayne and Ang volunteer for a canal community group which looks after the stretch of water holding weekly litter picks and encouraging wildlife as well as holding community events such as a camera club and an art club.

There is also a thriving group on Facebook, The Bridge 46 to Five Locks Canal, which has more than 6,000 members.

Wayne said: “We’re always trying to promote Five Locks to bridge 46 as a place we love being at and where others can enjoy too.

“We look after the section along with lots of other volunteers. It’s a lovely way to spend your time.

“I’m actually going to be sad to leave soon because you get to know the walkers.

“It’s great to see the stretch being so well-used now and that’s down to the group and their efforts.”

Angela Hughes/Media Wales
Ang says she wasn’t happy about buying the barge at first but now loves it[/caption]
Angela Hughes/Media Wales
The sofa doubles up as a spare bed[/caption]
Mark Lewis/ Media Wales
The Vaila is currently moored at up at the southern end of the Monmouthshire and Brecon canal in Cwmbran[/caption]
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