'The slow life is amazing': Meet the mum who quit the rat race for a narrowboat

·4 min read
(Caters)
Hannah Bodsworth decided to move on to a narrowboat and go off-grid with her son, George, for a cheaper way of life. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)

A mum is saving £870 each month after deciding to move onto a narrowboat and go off-grid with her son for a cheaper way of life. 

Fed up with the stress of juggling rent and other outgoings while being a single parent, Hannah Bodsworth, 38, from Leicester, made the bold decision to jump off the hamster wheel and move on to a narrowboat with her son, George, now 8.

In the search for a cheaper, slower and more simple way of life, Bodsworth bought the narrowboat in 2017 and is now attempting to embrace an off-grid lifestyle, which involves homeschooling her son from the boat and foraging for as much of their food as they can.

Since moving on to her narrowboat, Bodsworth's outgoings are £870 a month less than when she was renting a house.

Read more: Couple who live in a van save over £1,000 a month on bills

Hannah and the boat before renovation. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)
Hannah and the boat before renovation. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)

At that time, Bodsworth, who now works as a freelance photographer, says the stress of working in marketing with a photography studio business on the side while also trying to spend time with her son left her feeling burnt out. 

"I was renting a nice two-bedroom house, which I could afford when I was working full time, but this meant I would finish work and George would already be ready for bed," she explains. 

"My life was stressful and hectic. I was just living for the holidays and not living for each day."

Having seen her brother move onto a sailboat over 10 years previously, Bodsworth thought a boat home would give her and George a better quality of life.

Read more: Woman transforms old van into glam motorhome to travel Europe

The boat looks impressive after its renovation. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)
The boat looks impressive after its renovation. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)
The kitchen and fireplace. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)
The kitchen and fireplace. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)

She bought the narrowboat in 2017 for £18.5k with her savings and a small personal loan.

She has spent the last four years renovating the boat and finally completed the renovations in April this year.

"After buying the boat I quickly got George's bedroom ready so that he could be comfortable and excited about moving in," she explains. 

"It was important to me that he had his own room, whereas my bedroom is also the living room, dining room and office.

"Since moving on to the boat our life is so much better," she says. "I feel like I have to pinch myself each day as I didn't know it was possible to enjoy life this much."

Watch: British couple sell their house to live in a motorhome and now travel round Europe. 

After home schooling her son while schools were shut during the coronavirus pandemic, Bodsworth decided to continue to home school George. 

"I can make his learning relevant to his way of life which makes it easier and more interesting," she explains. 

"It also suits our new lifestyle better as we are constantly cruising, which means we have to move at least one mile every two weeks," she adds. 

"It also helps in our efforts to become totally off-grid. At the moment we are 80% of the way there as we still use gas, diesel and water.

"We have also recently started foraging for food and make simple one-pot meals as it's not always easy to access supermarkets.

"George loves helping and getting involved in this."

Read more: Mum uses bargain buys to create kids' dream bedrooms in 'bare shell' of a home

George on his bed in his room on the boat. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)
George on his bed in his room on the boat. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)
(@narrowboatmama/Caters)
(@narrowboatmama/Caters)

Bodsworth says the narrowboat is the perfect home for her son as he's interested in boats, nature and engines and loves getting involved in learning about the locks and helping his mum wherever he can.

"He had a moment, like most kids, where he wanted a big house with a swimming pool, but he loves our lifestyle now," she explains. 

"He gets to experience lots of different places and it opens his mind to different ways of life."

Overall, Bodsworth says moving to the narrowboat has been a "liberating experience".

"The slowness of our life now is amazing," she adds. "We are never in a rush for anything."

Hannah Bodsworth now lives off grid on the narrowboat with her son George. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)
Hannah Bodsworth now lives off grid on the narrowboat with her son George. (@narrowboatmama/Caters)

And living a more simple life has made the mother/son duo so much happier.

"We have a lot less money stress because if there is a period when I don't have much work I know I can scale back massively while living on the boat," she explains. 

"My outgoings are at least a quarter of what they were before."

While there were some concerns from friends and family when Bodsworth first raised the idea of moving onto a narrowboat, she says everyone now understands this is a good life for her and George. 

"I can't see us living any other way."

Additional reporting Caters.

Watch: Rod Stewart buys his wife a narrowboat for her birthday. 

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