How you can buy a home in London for just £90k

For just £30 per month, you could own a home in London.

In Barking, houseboats along the River Roding collect just behind Barking Abbey and although from the outside they might look a little rusty, once inside you can see why those living there might be on to something.

Boasting affordable housing and a friendly community, the river collective stick together, says Wendy Judd, one 52-year-old houseboat owner, My London reports.

She said: "It really is a community. We have parties with each other, outdoor barbecues, they do festivals, we have a lot of fun."

Wendy and her husband only paid £90,000 for their houseboat, but have carried out major renovations since they moved in.

She explained: "We bought this about two or three years ago. The man selling had a stroke while we were negotiating so we got a very good deal.

"One of the other boat owners helped us do the water tank and stuff."

With only £30 a month running costs, plus a charge for the London Port Authority (LPA) licence and mooring, houseboats present a temptingly cheap alternative.

Wendy and her husband run their laptop repair business from the comfort of their floating home rather than splashing out on their office in London Bridge.

"I lived in London for 20 years and I didn't even know my neighbours, we only spoke when we were dropping off Amazon parcels," she said.

The houseboat community in Barking has a WhatsApp group chat to get around the issue of the lack of doorbells, and they even have a shared bird garden.

Wendy said: "We all have a part for the moorhens and the swans. The swans laid some eggs up the river but they were swept away, it was a shame."

The community is hugely diverse, with some who have been on the river for decades.

But getting the chance to buy a boat is extremely rare.

"There are a lot of people in the art business, creative types – sculpters, painters," Wendy added.

The boats themselves are as equally diverse, from classic longboats with engines to boats the size of a yacht.

Wendy said: "Compared to others, our boat, called Billy Buoy, isn't even that big. There's a huge one with six bedrooms and a sauna!

"Some people move up and down the river but we don't – we don't have an engine."

Wendy added: "I love everything here, they are all so friendly and nice."

Another houseboat owner, Cat Hart, explained why getting on to her boat at the moment is more tricky than usual.

She said, due to building work in the area the riverboats have been displaced and lost some of their mooring land, so currently there are two or three boats moored alongside each other.

The jewellery designer moved from Chiswick to the neighbourhood five years ago.

The 33-year-old said: "I always wanted to live on a boat and I got lucky.

"Everyone is so great, it's a lovely community.

"That's what's kept me here, it's the people who have made me stay here so long.

"I get to live on my own but without the loneliness."

Her houseboat is very different from Wendy's – more traditional, with the addition of Cat's jeweller's workshop in the back corner.

Cat said: "I have done quite a lot of work on the boat, built a lot of things for it. When things go wrong I have to fix them."

Buying a riverboat costs a fraction of the price of a house in London, with Wendy able to buy a spacious boat for only £90,000.

The running costs are also tiny compared to the costs of owning a house – on land in Barking and Dagenham the norm is to pay over £1,000 a month for a mortgage and bills.

Compared to a riverboat:

  • Only some people who live on riverboats pay council tax, and if they do it's Band A (the lowest cost)
  • The London Port Authority charges £440 per linear metre per year for mooring
  • Moorings licences are paid to the landowner and vary according to boat length and the popularity of the area
  • A small boat between 6.5 and 7.5 metres currently costs around £582.32 a year to moor*
  • A larger boat between 14.5 and 15.5 metres currently costs around £864.69 a year to moor*
  • Access to water is included in the mooring fee
  • Electricity and gas costs the same as in any house, but many houseboat owners do not use electricity so these are minimal
  • Many also heat their home by burning wood or coal rather than using a gas fire
  • You'll also need a Boat Safety Scheme certificate, starting at £100 for four years
  • Other occasional costs are similar to running a house, but also include repainting, hull scraping and varnishing

(Figures from the Canal and River Trust)

Even a large boat is much cheaper to run than a small flat.

But the redevelopment going on is a cause of concern for the community – even if they're not totally displaced by the new buildings, they feel things are definitely going to change.

Mooring costs are also set to increase in December and that could pose a problem for the houseboat owners; who are unsure how much authorities are going to charge them to remain there.

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