What I Own: Daisy, who took out a loan to buy her houseboat for £25,000

Welcome back to What I Own.

We have something a little different this week. We’re chatting to Daisy who lives on the houseboat she bought with her partner four years ago.

And not only does Daisy have a pretty incredible ‘floating home’, but she has a fascinating job, too.

The 33-year-old shares how she went about buying her houseboat – which is moored in Cambridgeshire – and how much it costs to live there now. Here’s everything to know about her unique buying experience…

Tell us about yourself, Daisy.

My name is Daisy and my partner is Billy. We are both 33. I have had various flexible jobs since owning the boat, but Billy and I run a mermaid business called Finsplash Mermaid School where we teach adults and children to swim like mermaids.

I have just started a new job working seasonally on the wind turbines in Canada as a rope access technician. We fix the wind turbine blades while hanging from ropes. Billy also owns a business consultancy company in Wisbech that is going well. 

Where is your home? What do you think of the area?

We are based in March, Cambridgeshire. It’s a pretty nice area and a lovely walk along the riverside into the town.

When did you move in?

We moved onto the boat about four years ago.

How much does your property cost?

We bought the boat for £25,000. It wasn’t finished inside so we had to do a lot of DIY before we could move in. Decorating the boat was my favourite part.

How much was your deposit?

We paid it all in one go. We got a loan to pay for the boat of £10,000 each and then used £5,000 of our savings.

What is the monthly cost of living here now; both mortgage and bills?

The loan is £181 per month each over five years. Our mooring costs approximately £1,500 for the year (which we pay in one go per year) and this includes water and bins etc. Electricity is approximately £20 every quarter. 

We use gas for cooking and gas bottles last around six months and cost about £30. We use diesel for our central heating and wood and coal for our woodburner. We fill up our engine with diesel maybe twice per year which costs about £200. Prices have started to increase a little more now with the fuel prices.

How did you save up for your deposit?

As it was only £2,500 each, we each had some savings and just kept putting away a little bit of money each month to save. It was a lot easier than trying to find the deposit amount needed for a house. We were lucky that we could both live at home while we saved.

What was the process of getting a mortgage like for you? Did you find any parts challenging?

It was pretty easy getting the loan, as it was only a small loan of £10,000 each – compared to the crazy amount needed if we were to buy a house. It was a really quick, simple, online process and there was no waiting around.

Where did you live before this – were you renting or living with family?

Before this, I would travel a lot, so I was usually out of the country for most of the year. When I returned home I would usually live at my parents house and work a flexible job for around 3-5 months while I saved enough to leave again for travel/volunteer work. Billy was also living with his parents and working in Wisbech. 

What made you want to buy rather than renting?

We always liked the idea of having somewhere to call our own, and somewhere for me to go when I return from trips so we don’t have to live with parents.

The boat made perfect sense as it’s so affordable. If we were renting, I wouldn’t have been able to pay the rent and still travel. This gave me flexibility to still travel and own a home. 

How did you find this property? What made you choose it?

We had been looking at all sorts of boats for around a year before we found our floating home. We went all over the country looking at boats and then the perfect one popped up in our local marina. We chose it because it was the right price, a good size (55-feet long, 6-feet wide) and had lots of potential. It needed a lot of work doing inside and out, and we were excited to get our hands on it.

We knew we wanted a reverse layout and this was one of the first boats we’d seen that had that feature (where the bedroom is at the front of the boat and kitchen at the back).

How have you made the property feel like home?

I loved putting my own touch on the place and Billy was very understanding and happy for me to decorate. I enjoyed putting up the various ornaments I’d collected while travelling. I bought material for the curtains while in Thailand, and I just wanted to make sure the boat had lots of personality and colour. Billy’s mum and I smashed up some tiles to make the mosaic above the oven.

We had so much help from family and friends too with regards to building and painting and installing things. We have a great support network around us.

How would you describe life on a houseboat?

I absolutely love it. I love being on the water (being a mermaid instructor and all). I love that the boat is more eco-friendly in that you have to be more aware of conserving water, use eco-friendly products, use solar panels etc. I love that in the summer we can take our whole home out on trips.

It feels like a lot of freedom. Billy enjoys the trips but as a 6ft 1 bloke, he’s ready for us to get a wide beam boat now.

What’s your favourite room and why?

I like the living room as it feels really open and spacious. I like that I can sprawl out on the sofa with the fairy lights on and chat to Billy while he’s working at his desk or cooking in the kitchen. I also really like the splashes of colour in the lounge. It’s just a relaxing, happy place to be.

Do you feel like you have enough space?

Yes and no. I don’t feel like I need much space but with two people living here it can get a little cramped – even just finding enough space to store both of our clothes. We have to store large things like the mermaid equipment and large music items at our parents’ houses or Billy’s office.

I would like to be able to store everything on the boat but there isn’t quite enough space for that. We also have to be very strategic with our storage solutions and be aware that if you overfill any areas or don’t allow airflow, it can go mouldy. It’s tricky to find a good balance.

Do you have plans to change the property?

Ideally, we will buy a piece of land so we don’t have to be surrounded by so many other boats and then we will have a peaceful garden with a beautiful view of the river where our boat will be moored. Then, we can build a shed or two which would solve our storage issues and make it feel like there was much more space on the boat – as we wouldn’t have to keep everything on there.

Are there any problems with the property that you have to deal with?

As with anything, yes of course. Sometimes the water will freeze so you can’t get fresh water for a little while, a lot of the heating etc relies on diesel and it’s slightly more complicated driving a narrowboat over to the petrol station. The toilet needs to be emptied every week or so, which is perhaps one of the less pleasant jobs.

Things leak and break sometimes and can be awkward to fix because the space is so small and most things are buried underneath the floor.

Also, you have to make sure the hull is painted with special paint every three years which requires the boat being lifted out of the water and this can be expensive. There is a lot to think about, but I find that it’s worth the hassle.

What do you want people to know about buying a home?

If it’s a boat home, go for it. It feels like less commitment and more flexibility – you’re not tied to a 30-year mortgage and it’s a much cheaper and eco-friendly way to live.

Also, you never have to worry about moving again… because if you want to relocate, you can just take your home with you.

What are your plans for the future, in terms of housing? Do you plan to stay here long term?

I think we plan to keep the boat forever. We like the idea of moving to a tropical country and maybe buying a little hut on a beach somewhere… but then we can return home to England for visits and still have the boat to live on for a few months of the year and take it out on adventures around England. The future is exciting.

Do you want to feature in What I Own?

What I Own is a Metro.co.uk series that takes you inside people’s properties, to take an honest look at what it’s like to buy a home in the UK. If you own your home and would be up for sharing your story, please email [email protected] 

You’ll also need to be okay with sharing how much you’ve paid to live there and how you afforded the deposit, as that’s pretty important. 

Shall we take a look around?

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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