Narrowboat life: Woman saves over £20,000 on bills after swapping her flat for a boat

·Contributor, Yahoo Life UK
·6 min read

Watch: Woman saves £20K on bills after swapping her flat for a narrowboat

A woman has revealed how she has managed to save over £20,000 on bills and rent since moving into a narrowboat.

Elizabeth Earle, 33, from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, first bought her narrowboat, the Leviathan, for £3800 in 2019 and over the past two years, has spent an extra £12,000 on renovations and decor.

The author and illustrator originally swapped her one-bed attic flat for her 32ft canal boat to enjoy a life of travel and adventure that she’d only ever seen in books.

But her new frugal way of living comes with an additional benefit: saving money, with Earle managing to save over £10,344 each year on bills.

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

One of Earle's favourite features is her log burner. (Caters)
One of Earle's favourite features is her log burner. (Caters)

“I grew up in a village, reading Lord of the Rings, and the Chronicles of Narnia, so I always had a fascination for that fantastical life. I’d always loved the idea of living on a boat since I was a child, travelling to different places, meeting new people and taking your home with you."

Earle says she was attracted to the freedom that lifestyle could offer and "not being tied to paying rent or working for an ungrateful boss.”

In terms of bills, Earle's are now minimal.

"I've gone from paying £1200 a month for rent, gas and electric to just £254 a month on the boat," she explains.

Earle's boat was an unfurnished shell when she bought it in 2019. (Caters)
Earle's boat was an unfurnished shell when she bought it in 2019. (Caters)

“The rent for my marina spot at Mancetter is £120 a month, but it allows me to use the facilities, so that’s been quite nice during the winter as I’ve been able to get hot showers – I’ve not managed to get the gas and hot water sorted yet.

“I pay £96 a month for my boating licence, boat insurance is £10 a month and the Canal and River Trust tax is £100."

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

Elizabeth Earle painting her narrowboat, Leviathan. (Caters)
Elizabeth Earle painting her narrowboat, Leviathan. (Caters)

When it comes to cooking, Earle uses a camp stove and relies on her log burner to keep her warm.

“You definitely have to make big compromises like emptying a porta-potty and battling with condensation, but it’s all worth it when you wake up in the morning to the beautiful countryside," she adds.

“It’s incredible just how much money you can save when you’re not paying rent or a mortgage. That money goes back into my own life, my own property and future.”

Watch: Couple transforms van into cosy tiny home on wheels

After hiring workmen to install the boat's interior, Earle has since added her own personal touches to make the boat more in keeping with her style, which she describes as kooky Edwardian.

“My favourite part of the boat is probably my 1920s bookcase which I reclaimed and is now piled from top to bottom in books – so much so that Leviathan is a little heavy on one side.

“Leviathan is only 32ft, but I couldn’t bear to leave my books behind," she adds. "I’m surrounded by the novels that inspired me to go for this way to life and it’s a great comfort to see them every day as I sit back with a cup of tea in front of the fire."

Earle says she loves the lifestyle living on a boat enables her to lead. (Caters)
Earle says she loves the lifestyle living on a boat enables her to lead. (Caters)

Another of Earle's favourite features is the wood burner.

"It makes the boat so cosy on cold nights. It’s the heart of the home,” she explains.

“After my Granddad passed, we found some antique fireplace backings he had collected. My dad added it to the fireplace, so now it’s even more special.

“It’s nice to know that a little part of my boat was created by my family," she adds.

As to how her friends and family reacted to her unusual life change, Earle says they've been supportive.

“Although I do think they wish I’d do something a bit more ‘normal’ and settle down," she adds. "I think they dread to think what project I’ll do after this!”

Earle and her rescue dog Leela live together on the narrowboat. (Caters)
Earle and her rescue dog Leela live together on the narrowboat. (Caters)

Earlie has always had a spontaneous streak and claims her passion for travel and adventure is what led her to buy a narrowboat to set sail around the country.

“In 2017, I moved to Australia, but didn’t want to be stuck in one place and ended up becoming really interested in sailing and ended up buying a one-way ticket to South Africa to join a sailboat crew," she says. "I spent six months travelling around the South Atlantic, swimming with sharks, visiting shipwrecks, and scuba diving.

“We even visited an island where a man had lived alone for 20 years with just penguins.

“I eventually bought my own sailboat and did it up, as well as adopting a dog, Leela, a four-month-old German Shepherd mix.

“I really wanted to travel across the Pacific after renovating my boat but realised Leela hated sailing. Leela took priority, so I compromised, sold up my sailboat and bought my narrowboat in 2019."

Read more: Woman transforms bland kitchen into super-chic space for under £200

Earle says she has managed to save over £20,000 on bills and rent since moving into a narrowboat. (Caters)
Earle says she has managed to save over £20,000 on bills and rent since moving into a narrowboat. (Caters)

Alongside her illustrating business, renovating the narrowboat became a lockdown project during the pandemic.

“She’s not finished yet, and there are still a few things I’m paying off, but she’s homely," Earle explains.

“I’m hoping to have Leviathan completed by the Spring, and Stratford Upon Avon will be the first place I go - I’m an absolute sucker for Shakespeare and history."

And Earle, who has been documenting her minimalist lifestyle and adventures on her Instagram @earlewrites is looking forward to the future on the water.

“There are so many adventures waiting for me and Leela to follow," she says. "I don’t want to take our time for granted, which is why I’m doing it all while I can.

"Life is like a book. It’s up to you to decide what is written inside."

Additional reporting Caters.

Watch: Want to Go on Vacation More Often? Be a Frugal Traveler

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