Monday 13 January 2014

Living costs for 2013

What does it cost to live aboard a narrowboat?

I had started on the calculations for this blog post a couple of weeks ago.  Having noticed a similar post on James and Debbie's blog (nb Lois Jane) has galvanized me into action to finish the job.

The cost of coming on this adventure was something we really struggled to quantify before we arrived.  We really had no idea of what we'd spend on things.  We had a few emails from other boaters and we read some articles about the cost of living afloat but everyone's spending pattern is different and the way things are marketed here and the types of stores they're sold in is definitely different to home.

In the end I allowed for a budget of £350 a week.  We have exceeded that slightly but we have bought stuff for the boat that we wouldn't beyond the first year.  We don't go out all that often and we rarely go to a pub just to drink (Mick loves a beer but he'll drink at home).  I've kept record of our spending in a spreadsheet with columns for each category.

We're having to do a bit better than this budget now as our tenant has moved out of the house and we have less money, but it's been no big hardship to cut back.  We've paid up on insurance, licence, moorings until we leave so the large outlays will be less.  We were conscious of the cost of fuel while we had Lynne's car so didn't go out quite as much as we would otherwise have.

What's included :
Groceries : supermarket spending including food, drink, cleaning products, toiletries.  If we buy these type of items in a discount store we still call them groceries.  Sometimes printer cartridges or paper for my work are in here.
Pub/cafe : any time we eat or drink out (we've often paid for friends' meals as a thank you when they've done us a favour or had us stay with them or lent us their car so this is a bit inflated). The allocation between this category and groceries is a bit hit and miss when it comes to beer - sometimes it will be here instead of groceries.
Day out / transport : entry fees, hire cars, fuel, bus and train fares, cinema.
Household : postage, stationery, gifts, clothing, printer, kitchen gadgets, quilt fabric, dvd's.
Phone/internet : this includes my Three wireless internet, O2 mobile phone and Mick's Lebara phone account that we use to call Australia.
Gas : the only gas we use is for the cooker and, as you can see, we only bought two bottles the whole year.  We do go through a little more now than we did at the start.  We thought it was going to be a big expense but when we realized how little we used we no longer avoided cooking things that take a long time in the oven.
Diesel : I know a lot of boaters just declare 100% if it's at all possible but I do a little calculation each time we buy diesel and we declare what we think is a fair thing.  The only time we declare 100% is when we're in the marina over Winter. We've had a bit of ribbing about it but I just think it's the right thing to do.
Coal : we pretty much keep the stove going all the time from when the weather cools until it's warm enough again.  We have always said we won't be cold in our own home.  We run the central heating over Winter early morning and late afternoon both for hot water and to keep the bedroom from getting cold so that pushed the diesel up a bit.
Loo : 11 pumpouts plus loo blue.  In hindsight we now know we could probably have pumped out the loo less often.  To be honest we thought the gauge must have been dodgy but I don't think we've ever let the tank get half full.... it's enormous!  We do a double check using a torch against the side of the plastic loo tank and it confirms the gauge is telling the truth.
Marina : this includes both the actual mooring fees and electricity and laundry charges.  We wash everything in sight when we go into a marina so we can use their huge tumble dryers.
Boat maintenance & improvements : anything for the boat; buckets, locks, folding outdoor chairs, two tv aerials, storage containers, an entire new set of fenders and spares, shower re-panelling, shower pump, paint, polish, water tap filter, charcoal filters, servicing and repairs.  Mick isn't mechanically minded at all so we pay for all servicing.  We've not scrimped on anything when it comes to the boat.  If it's needed attention or replacing then we've done it.
Licences : annual licence and also the licences for the Thames and the Avon.
Insurance : Collidge and Partners

What's not included :
I have excluded from these figures any overseas travel, items we've bought to take home with us or things that are not relevent for the purpose of the calculation.

Year Weekly
Groceries £6,236 £120
Pub / café £1,833 £35
Day out / transport £947 £18
Household £2,184 £42
Phone / internet £448 £9
Gas £51 £1
Diesel £1,627 £31
Coal £354 £7
Loo £180 £3
Marina £765 £15
Boat maint / improvements £3,310 £64
Licences £1,186 £23
Insurance £249 £5

£19,370 £373


Barry and Sandra said...

Hi Elly
Interesting post! I've been keeping a weekly spreadsheet too, though have broken it down into a few more categories to keep an eye on things. Looking at our nine months to date, we're on around 345 pounds a week - though Barry was away in NZ for a couple of months of that - on the other hand we've hired cars a few times to get to my parents.

So yeah, even living fairly frugally as we do, I reckon with all the costs involved it's at least 350 pounds a week, unless you never go out and socialise at all ;-)

Elly and Mick said...

Hi Sandra,
We were just talking about you guys the other day!
It's a fine line between not spending too much and still enjoying our time here. I wonder if your figures will change much once you're out cruising? You don't have the marina cost but the diesel goes up. We find we spend more eating out then too, and it's harder to get groceries as cheap.
Hope you're both well.

Barry and Sandra said...

Hi Elly
Possibly, though we won't be paying electric when we're cruising. Think it's much f a muchness, don't think marina fees are much considering what you gain really.

Shopping atm we're doing online, and I don;t tend to do that when we're on the cut - depends on specials and what's around I guess.

You;re right though, no point doing this and not enjoying the time. We're here for the longer term than you though so can space it out a bit!

How much longer do you have?

We're both well and happy thank you.

Ade said...

Hi Elly,
Very informative post thanks for sharing it's bookmarked.