itli the average age of the

first time buyer in

Scotland novv 37 and the average house price more than £l()().()()(). the lure of sitting on the dock of the bay is becoming less a dream and more a reality for a grovving number of people. There are now roughly l5.()()() people living on a barge or houseboat full time across the l'K. so from beautiful vievvs and a serene lifestyle to vvater rats and graffiti.

vvhat exactly can you expect if

you're thinking of taking the plunge yourself.’

()ne couple that have made the move from land to vvater are Kirsty and Billy llamilton. They have lived on a barge moored at Auchinstariy. just outside Kilsyth in north l.anarkshire. for the last ten months. Kirsty admits that the decision to live in a barge vvas definitely motivated by financial reasons. ‘We vvere living in a flat that we tried to buy and couldn't afford to. so we decided to go for this instead. You don‘t have to bid for a barge. You can move around and you can live somevvhere with a beautiful vievv which you‘d have to pay ten times more for if you vvanted a house in the same area.‘

The main benefits. she says. are being that much closer to nature. ‘I can vvalk miles in every direction. I’m only 20 minutes from the train station and vve are really near the motorvvay but it feels like you are in the middle of novvhere. There is also a great party vibe at the vveekends in summer when people \vho keep their boats moored here come dovvn.‘

As for day to day barge life. she says: ‘There are a few things that

O t watern

Living on a houseboat may be a romantic ideal for some, but it is becoming a necessity for others as more and more people in Scotland find it’s the only way to buy an affordable home, as Emma Newlands discovers.

yott have to learn hovv to do. like dealing vvith the water tank. and a barge needs a lot of vvork. but it‘s pretty comfortable.

"There‘s not that much space compared to. say. a flat. but I think people are pretty adaptable. My husband Billy is over six feet tall and he can vvalk around vvithout having to bend dovvn. apart from vvhen he goes through doors. I can still do my yoga too. apart from the moves vvhere l have to stretch upvvards.‘

According to Simon l‘aii'clough of the liSl’C. opting for this kind of

alternative form of housing is to be expected. bearing in mind the


current state of the market. 'We have had the odd mooring for sale over the years.” he says. ‘And. as property prices have continued to escalate. it‘s perhaps no surprise that people have turned their attention to other types of accommodation anything to secure a footing on the property ladder. I very nearly closed a deal myself in l‘)84 on a Thames sailing barge vvith a serviced mooring in the Albert l)ock. I would have done vvell.‘

Barge life does inevitably have some dravvbacks. hovvevei‘. Kirsty says: ‘You don‘t get a lot of privacy. l’eople vvalking past like to try and have a look in. and in the evening


Kirsty and Billy Hamilton (left) have

North Lanarkshire for the last ten

months. Highlights include a ‘boat lift’ at Falkirk (bottom)

you can sometimes get cars shining their headlights in. which isn‘t very romantic.‘

ller advice for people thinking about living on the open canal is to talk to people vvho have been through the process of buying a

barge already. ‘Ask them lots of

questions: run things by them before you do them.‘ she says. "You'll need at least £3000 more than you think you‘re going to need and the deposit is quite large about 20‘} but you can probably expect to pay it all off in about IS years.~

l-‘inally. Andy Sopei'. vice chairman of DBA. the Barge Association. says he is in no need of convincing vvhen it comes to living on vvater: ‘You‘re so much closer to nature. I can just pick tip my house and take it with me. and there's no danger of me leaving my passport behind. We are taking our house to the patty.’

lived on their boat in


I A barge is a vessel originally designed for freight carrying primarily in inland waters. lhey are not generally suitable for seagoing although yOu could probably cross the|.sh Channel in goon weather,

I If you're geing to make such a trip. you'd better not be in a hurry. The niaXimuin speed of a barge is seldom much more than 17km per hour. The average cruising sbeed. however. is nonnain closer to (Skin.

I Most countries; require the skipper to hold official qualifications but in the UK. no such laws most.

I Barge prices vary greatly for a bottom of the range hull. exoect to pay from about .920000. A barge measuring about 90m x .im. reasonably well converted and in good condition is likely to sell for 5233000. With really nice ones costing S‘80.000 or more.

I As well as the cost of the barge. you could also have to pay any or all of the tollomng: mooring charges. insurance. navigation charges and :iiaintenance. I Would be water babies can illl(l out more in the Barge [Saver '5; Handbook. which covers everything from what it costs to live in a baige to what to do if you have to move youi newly purchased (30 tonne vessel 1000 kilometres home having never steered a barge before. ()i there's aivvay s t bay.

m 8‘! by 08:1 (“y M

ti I‘il ()t‘l .‘tltlfi THE LIST 95