Whether you chose to live on board all year round or use your boat as a weekend and holiday home, there are pros and cons to living on a boat.  Here are some of the things to consider.


Living close to nature, enjoying the flora and fauna around you, it’s an outdoors lifestyle in all kinds of weather.  You have the opportunity to reduce your eco-footprint considerably, by living in a small home that is cosy and requires order within a small space, therefore only having possessions that are essential to your chosen lifestyle.        

There is fantastic camaraderie among the boating community whether you are living in or visiting a city, town, village or in a rural setting.  At the same time, your boating neighbours will  honour your need for privacy when you require it.

With a good internet connection, you can work from your boat and cycle or walk along traffic free paths to other destinations nearby.

When you take off on holiday, you can bring your home with you, a staycation where you can travel the waters from Belleek to Waterford and Dublin to Limerick, diverting to many places along the way. A popular trip along the canals is the Green & Silver route cruising the Grand, Royal and Shannon. 

Things to bear in mind:

To ensure the safety of all who come aboard, the exterior areas need to be kept clear.  Decks and gangplanks are slippery when there is frost, ice and snow in winter, when leaves and debris have been allowed to stay on board, or when there is an algae and mold build-up, after wet weather.  Loose or tight ropes will need attention when the water levels rise or drop.

Possessions need to be kept to a minimum and the external and internal space kept shipshape.  Not being able to instantly put your hand on a piece of equipment while underway, can lead to danger to you and your crew.      

A trip is required to the nearest services to fill up with water and to pump out sewage.  The frequency depends on the size of the tanks on board and the number of people on board.    

Depending on how you view these things, maintenance can be either a pro or a con. 

Costs of a barge: 

This is the proverbial piece of string – a quick look at barges previously owned available for sale in September 2021, that would fit on the Grand Canal shows a price range of €45k to €200k and more.  All sorts of things come into this equation – condition, type of barge, fit-out complete or not, engine, equipment and of course, the time and work you are willing to expend to create your dream boat. 

There are annual, monthly and weekly maintenance needs:

If you, like Water Rat believe that ‘there is nothing – absolutely nothing – half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats’, you will be in your element.  There is a need to clean the exterior regularly, repair any nicks in the paintwork and paint the superstructure from time to time.  Most important, there are trips to the dry dock every two to three years to check and paint the hull and add new anodes.  All equipment on board needs regular maintenance – engines, batteries, safety equipment, heating sources and as in all homes, repairs to the wear and tear of the interior. 

If carrying out this kind of maintenance and repairs is not something you enjoy, then you will need to outsource these tasks.  Make sure you cost what is required and include it in your annual budget.  As well as the usual living expenses, your annual budget needs to also include the cost of boat insurance and a permit from Waterways Ireland.    


Boating in all its forms can be part of a great lifestyle.  If you are ready to adopt it in any form, talk to those who are already doing it, join the  IWAI Kildare branch – we will enjoy talking to you about your boat when we meet up at one of our branch meetings or organised events. 

Note: bringing a barge to Ireland

Proposed IWAI Liveaboard Policy – Jan 2022

‘The Inland Waterways Association of Ireland supports the development of properly managed liveaboard communities in appropriate locations. IWAI believes such development is important for the long term conservation, management and development of our waterways. Properly managed liveaboard developments encourage the use of the navigations, bring life to the waterways and help sustain the areas in which they are located.’