10 Things You Need To Know Before Buying a Narrowboat
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Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 11:00am

Don't Buy Till You Have Read This!

Read our top ten tips on things you should know before you buy a narrowboat.


1 It’s a great way of life, but it’s not for everyone!

Just like 'marmite', you will either love it or hate it!  Not everyone takes to boating whether it’s just the occasional weekend, long holidays or living aboard full time. So our best advice before we go any further is try before you buy.  Hiring a narrowboat will give you a very good idea of what life is like on the canal and if it is for you.

2 Know its purpose

Think about what you will use the narrowboat for and how many people will be on board at any time.  Knowing whether it will be used for living aboard or weekend use only will help when it comes to choosing the size of narrowboat that is going to be right for you and your family.

3 There is a boat for everyone’s budget

The great thing about boating is there is a boat to suit every budget.  So everyone who expresses an interest in owning a narrowboat can have the opportunity of owning a one.

4 Know your sterns and lengths

Knowing a little more about narrowboats in general is going to help you greatly when it comes to buying your own. A great way to start learning about narrowboats is to read our useful info section and our buyers guide. Generally narrowboats are all the same width, but come in variety of length and stern type.

5 Research the running costs

Money matters are also important when owning a floating home. Ask other boaters what the average costs of running a narrowboat is for weekend use or living aboard full time.  Many boaters are more than happy to share their experience and knowledge, so don’t be afraid to ask. Of course depending on each person’s circumstance the costs will can vary. Some expenses you will need to consider are – moorings, licence, insurance, maintenance, fuel costs, blacking and other day to day stuff.

6 Residential Moorings can be hard to find

Residential moorings can be hard to find, so it is always advisable to look into this before buying a narrowboat.

7 You will need certain paper work

Just like owning a car or house you need the relevant paper work, which for a narrowboat will include; insurance, boat safety certificate and ownership papers. Make sure you have all these in place when you buy.

8 Don’t buy till you have a survey

Would you buy a house without a survey? I’m guessing unless you are a builder or in the industry the answer is going to be No!  So buying a second hand narrowboat without a survey isn’t the smartest move unless you know what you are doing. The whole idea of the survey is to protect the buyer so you know exactly what you are buying. Top tip!

9 Use a Brokerage Company

Okay, so we are bound to include this one, but think about the advantages. Using a good brokerage company has so many benefits. So let’s just name a few – lots of experience, a variety of boats all in one location, a broker will negotiate on your behalf saving you any stress, and so much more.

10 Cruising is fun!

The final thing we can tell you before you buy a narrow boat is that it is so much fun! Cruising the beautiful UK canal networks will give you some fantastic holidays or a totally different way of life if you choose to liveaboard full time.

Experienced Boaters Did We Forget Anything?


Terry | Fri Aug 15, 2014 at 11:48am
I would like to have a better idea of what size is practical for one person live aboard. I will have a small dog, but every now and again up to 4 visitors probably for a weekend. I am planning to see the whole network so it would need to be below the magic 58 feet. But would also like to keep running costs to a minimum. Your thoughts please.
Whilotn Marina | Tue Aug 26, 2014 at 12:07pm
Hi Terry, that really depends on the person, however if you want to keep costs such as moorings and heating to a miniumum a 45-50ft narrowboat would probably be fine for one person and a dog.
Rich Moore | Tue Nov 8, 2016 at 11:18am
Hi after my divorce & CSA I am now stuck paying sky high rents !! Thus I now realise it would be better for me to live on a boat which I can own. One problem, I do have not a clue regarding who to contact to seek advice regarding how to and what type of boat to live on by myself along with the costs etc involved ? Thus any tips etc would be greatly appreciated. My salary is £23 K a year. I live and work in Derbyshire.RegardsRich MooreMob: 07738890021
Whilton Marina | Wed Nov 9, 2016 at 3:18pm
Hello Rich,Our website is a good place to start looking for a narrowboat to live aboard. Read our blog section and watch our youtube videos for good guides on using a narrowboat. Also download our buyers guide. If working you need to consider where to moor the boat and costs involved too. Basically visit marinas in your area that sell narrowboats and ask lots of questions.
Steve Grimwood | Mon May 8, 2017 at 1:23pm
Hello all,I am seriously considering living on a narrowboat as an option for the future. I suppose i should really pop to a club or something to ask all the questions i have.Nearly 40 and single with no dependants, despite having a relatively good job, the housing market and buying is not really feasible unless i move north or to undesirable areas. just seems like a good option with nice potential.i really like the look of a wide beam! dutch barges too but let's see what the wallet or bank manager says hahaSteve
Whilton Marina | Mon May 15, 2017 at 1:37pm
Hello Steve, we look forward to being able to help you buy a narrowboat. If you have any questions do pop and see us at our marina, or email us. we would be more than happy to answer any of your questions about living on a narrowboat.
Neil | Sun Aug 13, 2017 at 7:06pm
Hi, seriously thinking about getting a narrowboat but would like to know costs. Rough figures would be helpful and where do we find moorings for living in them?
Whilton Marina | Mon Aug 21, 2017 at 3:18pm
Hello NeilBest place to start researching about the costs of owning any buying a narrowboat is our buyers info page. Also download our guide to getting afloat from the side widget on the buyers info page. Read the Inland Waterways Association website, and the Canal and River Trust website who have details of residential moorings online. We are always happy to answer any queries you may have about buying a narrowboat in person, feel free to come and visit us.
David Thornber | Sat Dec 9, 2017 at 3:28am
Hi, I am thinking about the possibility of owning a narrowboat for holidays and renting it out at other times. I live overseas. Are there agencies that will look after the rental side? Is there any issue with my living abroad? I have a Brit/EU passport.
Whilton Marina | Wed Dec 13, 2017 at 4:30pm
Hi David, Thank you for your comment, we are unaware of any agencies that offer that service.
Hayley | Mon Feb 26, 2018 at 10:14am
Hi I am looking to buy a boat as a permanay base not intending to travel just moor up somewhere any ideas on where to start please
Whilton Marina | Mon Feb 26, 2018 at 10:54am
Hello Hayley, you have come to the right place to buy a narrowboat. Read our website and watch our YouTube videos to help you learn about narrowboating. As regards moorings, do your research in the area you want to moor as sometimes moorings can be difficult to find.
hanley | Sat Jul 28, 2018 at 12:24pm
looking to buy second hand n/b 50'
Steve | Sun Aug 5, 2018 at 11:30am
Hi there. I was declared bankrupt just over a year ago. What are my chances of ever buying my own boat? I don't want this to hold me back or prevent me from having a fresh start. Kind regards. Steve.
Whilton Marina | Mon Aug 6, 2018 at 4:20pm
Hello Hanley, you have come to the right place, we can help you find a second hand 50ft narrowboat. We will register you for email updates of 50ft narrowboats
Karen gilmore | Sat Sep 1, 2018 at 7:42am
Please would you register me for narrow boat listings. This would be my first narrow boat.
Whilton Marina | Mon Sep 10, 2018 at 4:19pm
Hello Steve, (one point above) Unfortunately that is a question we are unable to answer as we don't know your individual circumstances. However we hope that you can one day achieve your dream of buying your own boat.
Kate bell | Tue Oct 2, 2018 at 12:27pm
Hi... myself and my partner want to buy a narrow boat and live aboard with our dog. We would live to know if you have any sizable boats for sale and how much please x
Whilton Marina | Tue Oct 9, 2018 at 5:12pm
Hello Kate, the best thing for you to do is to register for boat updates on our website. All the boats we have for sale are also on our website.
Spencer Davies | Thu Dec 27, 2018 at 1:09pm
Hi , could you add me to boat sales updates please , I am considering purchasing a boat and would like to be updated with offers Many thanks Spencer
Matt | Mon Dec 31, 2018 at 11:25am
Not many marinas provide you with the services as whilton marina does.Always made to feel welcome .Can't wait to purchase a Narrow boat from them in the new year
Marcus Woods | Thu Jan 3, 2019 at 12:55pm
Me and my wife are looking to buy a narrow boat this year. I need help on how to go about buying one.
Whilton Marina | Mon Jan 7, 2019 at 11:04am
Hello Spencer, We have added you to our email database and you will get email alerts when new boats arrive for sale at our marina. You can login to change your preferences by using the password that will be emailed to you.
Whilton Marina | Mon Jan 7, 2019 at 11:31am
Hello Matt (3 comments above this) Many thanks for your kind words about us making you feel so welcome at our marina. We are looking forward to helping you achieve your dream and buy a narrowboat from us!
Richard Aitman | Mon Sep 9, 2019 at 7:30am
Please add me to your circulation list. My son and uis partner are looking to purchase a narrow boat. He is competent and a very adapt pilot with good technical skills and knowledge. Their only problem is price.
Whilton Marina | Mon Sep 9, 2019 at 3:09pm
Hello Richard, We have added your email address to our database and you will receive email updates of narrowboats for sale as requested.
Matthew | Sun Sep 22, 2019 at 5:22pm
This is brilliant could you add me to emails for updates on any boats you have come in budget of 10-22k thanks alot
Whilton Marina | Tue Oct 1, 2019 at 2:56pm
Hello Matthew, I have added your email address to our email database so that you will get automatic emails once a boat comes in for sale within the 10-22k budget. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of our emails.
Tina Noble | Sat May 16, 2020 at 3:47pm
i would like to start looking to buy a narrowboat and would appreciate any help.I have done narrow boat holidays with my children. this will just be myself and my husband but with the option of having guests visiting. we are wanting this to be permanent but would not like to have a fixed moring. if there is information that you could send me that would be great. many thanks
Whilton Marina | Mon May 18, 2020 at 11:18am
Hello Tina, The best place to look for information about buying a narrowboat is our 'guide to getting afloat' which can be downloaded from our website if you copy the following link into your web browser: There is also a wealth on information on our YouTube channel. We hope you Realise your dream to buy a narrowboat very soon!The Whilton Team
Philip | Wed Jun 3, 2020 at 6:28pm
Hi there! I'm a first-time buyer looking for a narrowboat but I'm a little bit concerned that I may not find one that I (6ft2) will be able to stand up in. I just wondered if there is a great range of head rooms available between different boats? Many thanks for any guidance
Whilton Marina | Mon Jun 8, 2020 at 10:23am
Hello Phillip, The good news is that we measure the headroom inside all of our boats for sale and the height is listed in each boat brochure. The headroom does vary from boat to boat, with some around 6ft2" and others having at least 6ft 6inches.
Peter Matthews | Mon Jun 15, 2020 at 3:40pm
I have seen advertised a 23 ' narrowboat for sale... I know this is small but for a single 40 yr old to live on I just wanted to ask is it worth buying for £13950? once it has been surveyed of course!
Whilton Marina | Mon Jul 6, 2020 at 3:02pm
Hello Peter,The value of a narrowboat depends upon many things; such as the length, age and quality of fit out. We would always advise you to have a survey before purchasing a used narrowboat. That way the surveyor would advise on the value, and point out any issues relating to safety and condition of the boat.
christina bhakta | Sun Sep 27, 2020 at 5:43pm
Hello, my name is Christina. Could anyone let me know the price of a good second-hand 50f narrow boat please
Bobby Maunsell | Fri Oct 9, 2020 at 3:47pm
HiI am a pensioner in my 70s and wondered if i am too old to manage a narrow boat which is something i've always wanted to do.I am quite fit and healthy but would there be things that i might find difficult or at least need to know about.I am not interested in moving around but have friends who could manage this..Would you be kind enough to advise me appropriately.Kind regardsBobby.
Whilton Marina | Fri Oct 16, 2020 at 3:56pm
Hi Christina,All I can suggest is looking at our boats for sale page on our website. You will then be able to find a second hand 50ft narrowboat find out the price and see some internal and external images. Thanks
Whilton Marina | Fri Oct 16, 2020 at 4:00pm
Hi Bobby, No of course your not to old to handle a narrowboat. We see lots of pensioners living on a narrowboat. The heavy lifting you hay find difficult but a handy sack barrow is your best friend.
Andy Harrison | Fri Mar 12, 2021 at 3:56am
Seem to be very helpful
Grace Bell | Tue Jul 6, 2021 at 9:17pm
We are thinking of selling up and being mortgage free. What are the ball park costs for living in a narrowboat e.g.mooring costs heating etc is there a form of council tax?
Mags Day | Wed Jul 28, 2021 at 5:47am
Hi, I’m getting on a bit (71) and I’m starting to have difficulty negotiating the steep stairs in my terraced house. Do you think a narrowboat would be a reasonable option as opposed to a bungalow . Is there a lot of physical work involved in owning and operating one and are there courses available that would enable me to live on a narrowboat and operate it safely and legally
Jan | Fri Aug 6, 2021 at 2:18pm
Hi Could you please add my email address to your email database so that I can get automatic emails regarding newly listed boats, which are for sale, please. Thanks
Whilton Marina | Fri Sep 3, 2021 at 12:12pm
Hi Jan,This is all done for you. Many Thanks
Whilton Marina | Fri Sep 3, 2021 at 12:18pm
Hi Meg, Unfortunately by the sounds of things a narrowboat wouldn't be best suited to you, a bungalow would be better. There are normally a set of steep steps entering the boat either end. As you say there is a lot of manual work that comes with owning a narrowboat.Many Thanks
Joseph wedlock | Tue Jul 12, 2022 at 7:35pm
Im interested in a boat but no bigger tha 40ft around £25.000 for all yr living off the process of selling house. Never been on a narrow boat .so would need some lessons. And showed how to use different types locks and moorings.
Susan Carrington-Perrin | Thu Jan 19, 2023 at 1:20pm
I am interested in buying a narrow boat, but I don’t have the money, so I don’t know where to start. I want to live in Leamington, but have no connections apart from my husband
Whilton Marina | Thu Mar 9, 2023 at 11:20am
Hi Susan,We can certainly help you with any information regarding buying your first boat. Please call or email us if you have any questions. We would also suggest doing as much research as possible, we have a youtube channel we have a series of 'how to videos' which will help you understand the daily maintenance on the boat.
Ian Peach | Sun Mar 19, 2023 at 8:12am
Hi me and my partner are think of selling up and living on a narrow boat could you give us any advice

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