5 Tips to help you find the perfect Marina for your Liveaboard Narrowboat in the UK

Finding the right place to moor up your Narrowboat or Liveaboard on a permanent residential or semi-permanent mooring can be tricky. There's a lot to consider! Here's 5 tips to help make your decision that little bit easier. 



I've noticed over the last couple of weeks of our #PROJECTLIVEABOARD journey that our focus has been very much on the location of our mooring and Marina. 

Mr B, a village boy, has been leaning increasingly towards a more rural setting Marina for our liveaboard Narrowboat, Dutch barge or Widebeam and whilst I love the idea and miss being in the Countryside, as newbies I'm a little more inclined towards being closer to amenities. Mainly incase I turn out to be totally rubbish at growing food, living off the grid and self-sufficiency and freeze and/or starve us all.

With this in mind I thought I'd share a few tips that might help you choose your Marina.

1. Make a 'Perfect Marina' wishlist! 

list making write ipad coffee life


This part is fun! What would be in your dream Marina? Amenities,  Free WiFi,  an on site Chandlery, a 5* Restaurant, open-all-hours bar?!?

Make a big long list of everything you would like with no holes barred and then set about prioritsing them. This will help you assess the order in which to view all potential Marinas in your area. Also be sure to check your dream liveaboard will actually fit in them... check the canal systems they are connected to as Widebeams can struggle on narrow systems like ours with tunnels. 

So far on our list, Mr B would like a cafe or garden centre that specifically sells tropical fish (can you tell we visit +Whilton Marina Ltd at Whilton Locks a lot? !) 

And I would like onsite parking like at the new White Mills marina in Earls Barton, and a park or Country Park close by for muddy walks and fun playgrounds for families. Oh, and maybe a shed!

2. Prioritise your boring +  mundane needs for living on a boat

canal boat france beautiful river

OK, so whilst an on site trendy bar and free 24 hr tennis court would be amazing just outside your home... how often do you actually play tennis or go and get levered on a day to day basis?

Focus on things like distance to work, access to main roads, the types of shops you frequent the most for everyday items. Daily life is sadly always far more mundane than our dream but us humans are hardwired to enjoy routine however vague, so consider yours when picking your place of mooring. If you are happy to travel about then no problem, but you need to consider whether it will drive you crazy at a later date. 

Mr B isn't so fussed about location other than "away from the world" because he doesn't generally get groceries, pick up kids, etc. because I've already done it in the day. It doesn't bother me driving to the shops or stocking up but with limited space on board I would like to make sure a supermarket can deliver or it's not hours away.

In addition, for me, working from home I need to make sure I do see civilization a little every day or otherwise I really only speak with the kitties... that's awesome, but not always healthy. Plus...well... I also I kinda like the idea that with all the money we will be saving, we could maybe just have the odd dinner date and bottle glass of wine without me having to drive.

cute black and white cat crochet blanket
1 Gratuitous cute cat picture... you're welcome 

3. Calculate your budget for a mooring

Money Jar

Yep money is the root of all evil but alas a cross we all have to bear until we can pay for everything in hugs or crocheted goods... so budget how much you want to spend on your Marina mooring every year. Don't forget if your narrowboat or liveaboard is a permanent residence you will also have Council Tax at band A on top. 

The pricing varies from Marina to Marina so shop around as you would for your insurance or groceries. Almost everywhere, the fees are calculated by footage and often with a premium for Widebeams. This can vary from 10% to 30% in the locations we have looked into so far. 

Also consider payment options, do you want to pay Monthly, Quarterly or Yearly in advance? Find out which financial payment options are offered at the Marina.

4. Try before you buy

canal boat narrrowboat marina flags festival


If you are lucky enough to already be living aboard which of course I am not one shred of envious of... ha! ;) Why not take a trip and try out a new Marina for the weekend? Or if you are still on dry land like us, hire out a narrowboat for the week and travel around your local canal system.

See if it's a bustling or serene marina location, if you like the surroundings, if you connect with fellow boaters. Prices are around £10 a day at most places.

A quick search on Google will show you more Marinas in your area than you already knew about too! Private moorings on private land are another option to consider.

Just look at all those little red dots! 



5. Visit a few times and ask questions 



As with buying a house, you should always visit at different times of the day to check there isn't a 1am freight train or 7pm party animal about.

When we first moved into our town house no one thought to mention the Network Rail tamping machine that came through the railway at the bottom of the garden for 3 nights around once a month. 

Ask current residents what it's like living there... what's their favourite thing about the Marina? Are there any downsides?

Consider how the location will be at different times of the year... Too busy for you in the Summer? Too isolated in snow at Winter? 


This is just the tip of the iceberg but the great thing about boating is you can just pick up and go!





Do you have any more top tips for choosing your Liveaboard Narrowboat Marina location? Leave a comment below!