Take a fresh look at your lifestyle.

I live on a canal boat and save £600 per month. Fancy a life on the water? Here are the do’s and don’ts, from how to stop the boat from capsizing to why you should make friends with spiders (and the smelly chore you can’t avoid)

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A woman who ditched her London room for a 30ft narrowboat claims she is ‘so much happier living on a boat’ and manages to save around £600 per month.

Shannon Lane, 29, was paying £900 a month to house share in Clapton, but when she found out her landlord was raising the price to £1,000, she decided she was done with renting and took out a loan to buy a £24,000 narrowboat.

The freelance artist and video producer now spends £300 a month paying it off and cruises around London’s canals with her pug, Gilbert, for company. Before she made the move, she said she ‘suffered with bad anxiety and depression‘, but now she ‘wakes up every day happy’.

Making the transition from bricks and mortar to a floating home takes some adjusting. 

For anyone who fancies giving it a try, Shannon shared with MailOnline Travel five do’s and five don’ts of living on a narrowboat, from how to stop the boat from tipping over to the very smelly chore that must be completed and why it’s best to make friends with spiders.

Shannon Lane (above) ditched her pricey London room for a 30ft canal boat and said she is 'so much happier'. She revealed to MailOnline Travel the do's and don'ts of living on a narrowboat

Shannon Lane (above) ditched her pricey London room for a 30ft canal boat and said she is ‘so much happier’. She revealed to MailOnline Travel the do’s and don’ts of living on a narrowboat

Shannon took out a loan to buy the £24,000 narrowboat and lives on it with her pug, Gilbert

She spends £300 a month paying back the loan

Shannon took out a loan to buy the £24,000 narrowboat and lives on it with her pug, Gilbert. She spends £300 a month paying back the loan

Do’s

Say hello to your neighbours 

Shannon urges other narrowboat owners to embrace the ‘tight-knit’ community and get to know their neighbours. She says: ‘Whenever I moor up I knock on my neighbour’s door and say hello. Sometimes I’ve even met them before.’

For those who might not feel as confident, Shannon guarantees that ‘everyone is so welcoming’. She’s even had barbecues with neighbours that she only just met.

Be considerate of nature 

As well as respecting their neighbours, Shannon insists that narrowboat owners should be mindful of nature. After all, ‘you’re in their space’, she says, adding: ‘It’s important to make sure all your litter is contained and can’t blow away. Also, don’t pour any liquids into the canal. There are a lot of ducks, coots, moorhens and fish.’

Keep cruising the canals

For those who don't pay a mooring fee, Shannon says it's important to move every two weeks so other boat owners can 'enjoy different parts of the canal'

For those who don’t pay a mooring fee, Shannon says it’s important to move every two weeks so other boat owners can ‘enjoy different parts of the canal’

Shannon encourages boat owners to embrace the tight-knit community and get to know their neighbours

She said it's important for barge owners to respect the nature around them

Shannon encourages boat owners to embrace the tight-knit community, get to know their neighbours and respect the nature around them  

For those who don’t pay a mooring fee and have a continuous cruiser licence, Shannon notes that the Canal and River Trust insists you move a mile every two weeks.   

She explains: ‘It’s important to keep the canal system moving because it makes space for other boaters to enjoy different parts of the canal.’

While constantly moving locations might deter some when considering a life on the water, Shannon explains there are perks. It offers her the chance to explore affluent areas of London that would have previously been unaffordable, such as Little Venice and Regent’s Park.

Stock up on firewood and coal 

Keeping a good stock of firewood and coal is essential when living on a narrowboat. Shannon says: ‘The winters are very difficult, especially when everything is getting icy.’ But, she adds: ‘It’s nothing my log burner can’t solve.’

Stock up on warm kit 

While a roaring fire will keep you warm, Shannon suggests you have a good stock of blankets and jumpers to keep yourself warm whilst the boat is heating up.

Don’ts

Don’t obsess about chores

Shannon claims owning a narrowboat is lots of hard work but warns others not to 'overwork'

Shannon claims owning a narrowboat is lots of hard work but warns others not to ‘overwork’ 

Above is Shannon's living room/kitchen area

Pictured here is her bedroom, which is at the back of the boat

Pictured left is Shannon’s kitchen/living room area. On the right is her bedroom, which sits at the back of the boat

While Shannon describes living on a boat as ‘lots of hard work and getting your hands dirty’, she warns others not to take too much on. 

She says: ‘It’s important not to overwork yourself as then you’re just working the whole time and not enjoying the experience. You’ll burn out and not appreciate living on a boat.

‘The best way to enjoy yourself is to make a cup of tea or coffee and sit outside and watch the world go by.’ 

Don’t kill spiders 

Narrowboats attract spiders and Shannon says she finds at least three of them a week. While arachnophobes might be tempted to kill them, Shannon says: ‘They’re our friends and get rid of all the bitey insects.

‘Just leave them be unless they’re obstructing something you use. If this is the case, just place them outside or another place in your boat if you like.’

Don’t tie your ropes too tightly – or risk sinking

There are plenty of things to learn as a first-time barge owner. Shannon found out the hard way when she tied her middle rope to the towpath and other ropes too tight. She was tipped out of bed in the middle of the night.

She explains: ‘I went outside and the water level had gone down (this happens due to locks) and my boat was listing to one side. If this happens too much water can get into places you don’t want it to and it could sink. Luckily I noticed and loosened my ropes, and safely got back into bed.’

Don’t leave it too late to empty your toilet

From her personal experience, Shannon warns other boat owners not to leave it too late to empty their toilet

From her personal experience, Shannon warns other boat owners not to leave it too late to empty their toilet 

Above is Shannon's log burner, which she says helps heat up the winters

Pictured is Shannon's shower, which fits into a small bathroom

Pictured left is Shannon’s log burner, which she says helps heat up the winters. Pictured right is Shannon’s shower, which fits into a small bathroom

One unglamorous aspect of narrowboat living is having to deal with the toilet. Shannon says she has a cassette toilet on her boat and has to wheel the sliding cartridge to an Elsan point – a communal disposal area. 

It’s not a wise idea to leave it too long, as Shannon learned from experience: ‘You can imagine the smell.’

Don’t leave food outside

Shannon insists it’s important to properly discard your food waste and not leave anything outside the boat. She says: ‘Food outside attracts animals, and we have a lot of scavenging animals by our boats, such as rats, foxes and birds.’

For more from Shannon, visit her on TikTok at www.tiktok.com/@thatweirdboatgirl or Instagram – www.instagram.com/shannonroselane/.

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