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electric_nan

Trying to gauge annual costs - complete with spreadsheet!

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https://1drv.ms/x/s!AtLDVATGqxT9hGL4UoonQ7K5xEyh

Me and my girlfriend are looking at the possibility of living aboard a narrowboat come next year (fed up with renting and fancy something different) and just trying to gauge the running costs annually so we can look at what size loan we can afford for buying the boat. Would appreciate anyone glancing over and to see if we're missing any items and/or if the costs looks innaccurate? The costs are based on a 60ft narrowboat with solar panels, diesel engine, combination of gas/stove heating, and cruising throughout the year with the occasional mooring (3-4 months of the year, not in london). I've gathered the prices from multiple websites.

 

Thanks in advance

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Hello electric_nan, and hats off for looking sensibly at your future costs.  We expect to become liveaboards later this year, after five years of long (3-5 month) spells on board, so the exercise is of direct interest.  You will probably receive many replies from more experienced boaters but here are a few thoughts:

a. Mooring fees for 3-6 months look a tad high.  We pay little more than that for a 57' boat in a marina near Braunston. 

b. Paintwork £2,000 every three years sounds very high.  

c. £100 for a year's worth of gas sounds very low!

I'm very much looking forward to what the experts weigh in with.  And good luck to you!

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Some quick observations. The BSS inspection is only carried out once every 4 years not annually, so unless you are including cost for remedial work you can reduce that a lot. You do not normally pay for water to fill your water tank, this is free, unless you are budgeting for some bottled water. What sort of toilet, cassette is cheap, usually free to empty, if it is pump out that is perhaps £15 to empty and if you have a smallish tank that can be every second week, so 26 times a year or with frugality and a larger tank once a month. That is boat specific. You will not get solar during the 3 winter months, so will need to pay for electric from shoreline or burn fuel in a generator or your boat engine, not sure how much to allow. If you are running your engine frequently then it will need at least an annual service, perhaps more frequently based on manufacturers recommended intervals. You could learn to do it yourself to save costs.

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Here are some thought from our experience based on your estimates
                                                                                       My estimate
Item (for 60ft 6ft10" boat) Cost (Annually)
Mooring (over 3-6 months) £2,000.00                            We pay £3000 for 12 months. You should do it for a lot less if 3 months
Licence (Annually 60ft) £1,100.00                             Our 63ft boat is £1000
Paintwork (£100/ft every 3 years) £2,000.00                            Far too much. Maybe £7-8K every 10 years - so maybe 0 for 5 years.
Insurance (including houseboat contents) £300.00                                We pay £220 for £63K worth of cover
Council Tax (Lowest band 90ish) £1,080.00                             Dont need it if you are cruising and staying in a marine for 3-6 months
BSS / MOT £180.00
Blacking (£300 - 600 every 2-3years) £500.00                                We pay £700 ish every 2 years, so only £350 per year
Fuel £500.00                                Depends on how far you go or how much you use on your eberspacky thingy. £500 high for us.
Engine Service (Every 1-2 years) £200.00                                 £150 per year from RCR
Coal  £300.00                                We use 2 bags per week, so at £12 per bag for 30 weeks = a bit more.
Gas £100.00                                5 cylinders per year = a bit more
Electricity (assuming of having solar) £100.00                               Yes if in a marina for 6 months
Other Maintenance  £2,000.00                            Depends on what is wrong with the boat but should be ok, may be a bit high.
Loan £5,000.00
Internet £480.00                               After you have bought a router and antenna then £480 is cheapest high data amount.

Water                                                                                                                

 

You should add in RCR fees = £150-£220

I'll chip in if I see any more.

I reckon with the re-paint and council tax you are £3K too much

....but then 'other maintenance'?????

£200.00                               Its free.

 

 

Edited by Dr Bob

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2 minutes ago, ditchcrawler said:

If you are using £500 of fuel in the engine per year that will probably 2 services per year

.....or one service and 3 oil & filter changes. Yep, forgot about that.

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2 hours ago, electric_nan said:

https://1drv.ms/x/s!AtLDVATGqxT9hGL4UoonQ7K5xEyh

Me and my girlfriend are looking at the possibility of living aboard a narrowboat come next year (fed up with renting and fancy something different) and just trying to gauge the running costs annually so we can look at what size loan we can afford for buying the boat. Would appreciate anyone glancing over and to see if we're missing any items and/or if the costs looks innaccurate? The costs are based on a 60ft narrowboat with solar panels, diesel engine, combination of gas/stove heating, and cruising throughout the year with the occasional mooring (3-4 months of the year, not in london). I've gathered the prices from multiple websites.

 

Thanks in advance

Hi EN and welcome to the forum.

 

From what I've seen, your spreadsheet isn't that far off the ball park. Some of the things you mention can be done cheaper, whilst some will cost a bit more. As an example from my own experience as a continuous cruiser, a 13kg gas bottle at current price of £30.90 will last us for 8 weeks so the annual cost = 52/8 =6.5 x £30. 90 = £200.85p is possibly double what you have allowed. On the other hand we have blacked our boat every 3 years (including the bottom plate) and the latest cost was £900 but it can be done a whole lot cheaper as our next blacking due for next year (not including bottom plate) is expected to cost about £260 (we are blacking it ourselves). We budget for a figure of £70 a month for diesel and are currently well in credit. Our internet only costs us £240 per year for 20Gb per month at £20 per month but that obviously depends upon the expected usage, 20Gb is plenty for us but if you are streaming TV you will eat that in days. We've been on for 6 years so far and haven't had a repaint, so cannot comment on your repainting costs but I'd expect to pay between £8000 and £10,000 for a decent repaint (it it isn't decent why bother?;)). The licence is marginally less than your estimate (currently £969.99 for a 60footer) but the difference with your estimate is minimal. The only estimate I'd question is the council tax since if you are only mooring for between 3 and six months I'm not sure you'd get caught for this. We periodically put into a marina for a month or so (although we now have a full time mooring that we can use if we are in the area) and haven't paid Council Tax on any of our moorings. I haven't sat down and fully calculated our annual costs but I would think that if your figure of £16,000 is affordable for you you have little to worry about (disregarding any disasters, like a sinking:unsure:)

Edited by Wanderer Vagabond

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We only pay £18 a month for 40GB of mobile data, plus unlimited Netflix because of Three's 'Go Binge' feature, which works for us. 

 

For what it's worth: in our own budgeting, we allow for 'monthly' costs (diesel, gas, broadband etc.) and 'annual' costs (licence, insurance, RCR etc.), but most maintenance costs that might crop up, we hope to cover out of a savings pot ringfenced for that purpose. Given that these things tend to come in unpredictable lumps, that makes more sense to us than budgeting for an average, annualised figure.

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3 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

£100 on gas and £2000 per yer repainting costs are about right, but the wrong way around!

Last year I spent about £1500 on diesel

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6 minutes ago, Mike the Boilerman said:

£100 on gas and £2000 per yer repainting costs are about right, but the wrong way around!

Jeepers, £2000 on gas? Only if you've got gas central heating and at least one pet lizard, surely!

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13 minutes ago, magictime said:

Jeepers, £2000 on gas? Only if you've got gas central heating and at least one pet lizard, surely!

 

Which is the case here, is it not? (Except the lizard.)

 

Oh I now see £300 for coal. Way too little unless they have a polar bear as a pet.

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Wow thanks for the responses, all very helpful.

 

10 hours ago, sueb said:

Have you looked into getting a loan? Make sure you can get one first.

I've checked comparison websites online, that's about it. I don't see why we shouldn't, I should have a fine credit rating from paying off my car finance, other than that no debts.

 

 

9 hours ago, PeterF said:

Some quick observations. The BSS inspection is only carried out once every 4 years not annually, so unless you are including cost for remedial work you can reduce that a lot. You do not normally pay for water to fill your water tank, this is free, unless you are budgeting for some bottled water. What sort of toilet, cassette is cheap, usually free to empty, if it is pump out that is perhaps £15 to empty and if you have a smallish tank that can be every second week, so 26 times a year or with frugality and a larger tank once a month. That is boat specific. You will not get solar during the 3 winter months, so will need to pay for electric from shoreline or burn fuel in a generator or your boat engine, not sure how much to allow. If you are running your engine frequently then it will need at least an annual service, perhaps more frequently based on manufacturers recommended intervals. You could learn to do it yourself to save costs.

 

Not sure where I got the BSS cost from but I've seen one site mention it as being £160 every 4 years.

 

I prefer the idea of compost toilets, not sure I like the idea of carrying around your own raw sewage for many months (heard too many stories of leaks etc).

 

The electric costs were meant to factor in the months where solar wouldn't be viable, this may need to be higher.

10 hours ago, Dr Bob said:
Here are some thought from our experience based on your estimates
                                                                                       My estimate
Item (for 60ft 6ft10" boat) Cost (Annually)
Mooring (over 3-6 months) £2,000.00                            We pay £3000 for 12 months. You should do it for a lot less if 3 months
Licence (Annually 60ft) £1,100.00                             Our 63ft boat is £1000
Paintwork (£100/ft every 3 years) £2,000.00                            Far too much. Maybe £7-8K every 10 years - so maybe 0 for 5 years.
Insurance (including houseboat contents) £300.00                                We pay £220 for £63K worth of cover
Council Tax (Lowest band 90ish) £1,080.00                             Dont need it if you are cruising and staying in a marine for 3-6 months
BSS / MOT £180.00
Blacking (£300 - 600 every 2-3years)  £500.00                                We pay £700 ish every 2 years, so only £350 per year
Fuel £500.00                                Depends on how far you go or how much you use on your eberspacky thingy. £500 high for us.
Engine Service (Every 1-2 years) £200.00                                 £150 per year from RCR
Coal  £300.00                                We use 2 bags per week, so at £12 per bag for 30 weeks = a bit more.
Gas £100.00                                5 cylinders per year = a bit more
Electricity (assuming of having solar) £100.00                               Yes if in a marina for 6 months
Other Maintenance  £2,000.00                            Depends on what is wrong with the boat but should be ok, may be a bit high.
Loan £5,000.00
Internet £480.00                               After you have bought a router and antenna then £480 is cheapest high data amount.

Water                                                                                                                

 

You should add in RCR fees = £150-£220

I'll chip in if I see any more.

I reckon with the re-paint and council tax you are £3K too much

....but then 'other maintenance'?????

£200.00                               Its free.

 

 

 

I've adjusted some prices to be more inline your estimates. The paint job was based off multiple online sources, £100/ft every 3 years is what I've constantly seen, but maybe I'll increase this to every 5 years and just touch up the odd place here and there - we'd like to keep it looking pretty fresh. Where did you get your insurance from? I just got a random quote (can't remember where from) but that was including household items. Other maintenance is just a buffer zone for unexpected costs, don't wanna get caught out by the odd leak here etc.

9 hours ago, ditchcrawler said:

Last year I spent about £1500 on diesel

Were you a continuous cruiser? I've increased to £1000 to err on the side of caution.

 

In terms of internet usage we'll using quite heavily as my job relies on it (software developer) and this is what we've seen from EE for 100gb a month I believe.

 

I've factored in all your suggestions guys, very much appreciate the help.

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33 minutes ago, electric_nan said:

I prefer the idea of compost toilets, not sure I like the idea of carrying around your own raw sewage for many months (heard too many stories of leaks etc).

How do you envisage the composting toilet working ?

 

You will need to carry open buckets of your 'output' around for several months to allow it to compost properly - where do you keep them (under the bed) ?- far worse than carrying a couple of months in a sealed steel tank which you can pump-out when ever you want.

 

Even better - go for a cassette system that you can empty (free of charge) every 3 or 4 days as you pass a 'service station'.

 

Composting toilets, are in theory, a good idea and a solution to a problem that doesn't exist - however, they are getting a very bad name as folks are finding that they cannot accept the 'stuff' lying about in their boat for months on end and are depositing it - partly decomposed/composted into normal waste bins.

Some marinas are now refusing to allow boats with composting toilets into the marina.

 

You may find that you are persona non grata :

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

How do you envisage the composting toilet working ?

 

 

Admittedly haven't thought about it in great detail yet, as I've seen pump out costs aren't that dear so haven't bother to factor in the costs overall.

 

I'm going by that most people seem to be recommending them nowadays, that and I've been on one boat with a compost and he actaully swapped the pump out for it.

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1 minute ago, electric_nan said:

Admittedly haven't thought about it in great detail yet, as I've seen pump out costs aren't that dear so haven't bother to factor in the costs overall.

Pump-out is very different to composting.

 

Are we talking at cross purposes ?

 

Pump-out costs will depend on the size of the tank, and how often you use the toilet.

A pump-out costs (generally) around £20 a time and if you need to do it monthly would equate to £240 - which is higher than several of the costs you have included in the spreadsheet.

 

Composting would appear to be free to dispose of when you have somewhere to put it - there are several 'composters' on the forum but I think they tend to have land / garden where they can use it.

Whilst it is in the buckets composting, you could plant some lettuce, carrots, etc and put the tubs on the boat roof.

You probably could grow some tomatoes as well, but they are self propagating as the human digestive system does not break them down an they 'pass straight thru'. If they do start to grow, suggest you keep the tub 'low down' in the cratch, or on the stern as they may get knocked off the roof when going under bridges - sort of ultimate re-cycling.

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4 minutes ago, Alan de Enfield said:

Pump-out costs will depend on the size of the tank, and how often you use the toilet.

A pump-out costs (generally) around £20 a time and if you need to do it monthly would equate to £240 - which is higher than several of the costs you have included in the spreadsheet.

 

Yeah fair enough, I think really it'll just come down to whatever the boat we buy has already installed. Though what do you do for winter if/when the tank freezes? I think casette toilets are really the only type I'm not too keen on. I've heard it can sometimes be quite far from the canal to the nearest elsen.

 

It's a sensitive subject that I think my gf really doesn't want to have to think about (which admittedly might mean a pump out).

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12 hours ago, David Lorimer said:

Paintwork £2,000 every three years sounds very high.  

 

More like £6000 every nine years if you want a proper job -- so it's a good estimate.

More important, though is that your budget seems to have no contingency: I'd want to add at least 25% to cover the unforeseen.

 

 

 

Edited by Machpoint005
.

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48 minutes ago, electric_nan said:

Admittedly haven't thought about it in great detail yet,

 

Sellers of composting toilets rely heavily on their prospects not thinking about it in great detail prior to shelling out the four figure purchase price of one.

 

 

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57 minutes ago, electric_nan said:

 

I'm going by that most people seem to be recommending them nowadays, that and I've been on one boat with a compost and he actaully swapped the pump out for it.

 

36 minutes ago, electric_nan said:

 

Yeah fair enough, I think really it'll just come down to whatever the boat we buy has already installed. Though what do you do for winter if/when the tank freezes?

What are most people recommending? It looks like you are saying 'composting'. Noooooooooo!

I reckon if you did a survey of the 'best type of toilet' you would get 47.5% saying pump out, 47.5% saying cassette and 5% saying composting. People seem equally split over the two main types and are heavily biased one way or the other. We, for instance, wouldnt dream of having a boat with a cassette as the thought of lugging 25Kg of Poo solution to an Elsan point, 100 yards away when in a marina is not why I am boating.

Water tanks on boats dont freeze up if you are living on the boat. We've not had a cold winter though.

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45 minutes ago, electric_nan said:

 

Yeah fair enough, I think really it'll just come down to whatever the boat we buy has already installed. Though what do you do for winter if/when the tank freezes? I think casette toilets are really the only type I'm not too keen on. I've heard it can sometimes be quite far from the canal to the nearest elsen.

 

It's a sensitive subject that I think my gf really doesn't want to have to think about (which admittedly might mean a pump out).

My advice then is if you have a sensitive girlfriend and/or one that ever mentions the need of a thing called a " Hairdryer " for instance, is to trade her in for another model before you move aboard. The sensitive type will cost you a fortune over the years and more robust models are readily available on the open market :D

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This is my opportunity to say again that you carry a certain amount of poo with you wherever you go and it is no problem because your body packages and manages it nicely (at least for most of us). Pumpout is no problem so long as you have a decent installation which in my book means a a proper china macerator toilet and not too much plastic connecting hoses.  I say this after changing the joker valve and cleaning the tank level sensor (after 5 or so years), not too difficult and not very smelly jobs. Oh and I don't add anything to the tank, no "blue". I tried the cassette method and it was too heavy, too messy (yours and other peoples) when emptying, and too incessant. 

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42 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

My advice then is if you have a sensitive girlfriend and/or one that ever mentions the need of a thing called a " Hairdryer " for instance, is to trade her in for another model before you move aboard. The sensitive type will cost you a fortune over the years and more robust models are readily available on the open market :D

 

Hmm, maybe I shouldn’t be taking toilet advice from someone called Mrsmelly ;)

 

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