This Former Journalist is Living on a Narrowboat on the UK's Canals

by Simplify

Living on a narrowboat may not be a conventional choice, but it certainly is working out for David Johns, a former TV journalist who quit his job in order to live on the UK’s network of canals.

David had been reporting for 9 years but found himself bored with his day job. He wanted to travel but also be close to his aging parents, who live in the Midlands in England.

Canal boating offered the perfect solution, because he can travel across the different canals and see different places, and most of the canals are in and connect to the Midlands region.

David’s first experience of canal boat living in the UK was during one of the tougher seasons. He was thrown into the deep end (so to speak) with the experience of living on a canal boat in winter.

In order to make the adjustment easier, he spent the first few months docked at a marina, which provides electricity, water⁠—and most importantly⁠—people on-hand to ask for help and advice if you’re new to boat living.

David feels like since he moved onto the boat he’s really found a community and that almost everyone he’s met has been “lovely”.

Narrowboats on the canal

David does not see a big difference between living in a house and living on a barge, noting that all his basic necessities, from a shower to a place to relax and read a book, are fully available on the boat.

He believes the main difference is that you need to be aware of water preservation and how much is left in your tank, and to be able to look at a map and know where you’ll be able to fill up next. Also, you need to know some very basic maintenance stuff, like how to change the boat oil.

Living on a narrowboat

Now that winter is over, David is traveling along the canals and enjoying seeing the sights and the wildlife. He is very much enjoying the experience of living on a narrowboat and plans to continue doing it for a while longer.

For more stories of tiny homes on the water, discover this handmade houseboat that was a 10-year labor of love or this pontoon tiny houseboat that allows for 4-season river living in Québec.

To see more videos, check out the Exploring Alternatives YouTube channel.

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2 of 4 comments
  • DMC18189213 DMC18189213 on Jul 30, 2022

    I absolutely 💯 love this! Instead of looking for a Tiny House...maybe I need to think 🤔 about a Narrow Boat. Enjoy!

  • Rkl6607215 Rkl6607215 on Aug 25, 2023

    I am envious! I have visited areas along the canal system—beautiful. A dream of mine is to travel the canals there. BTW I live in a Victorian village along the Erie Canal in NYS.