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Simple living on a narrowboat home in West End London

Emma Freemantle lives in pricey West End London (near Regent’s Park), but she could afford to buy her home because she lives aboard what she calls a “floating caravan log cabin”. Her home is a narrowboat: boats so narrow they were built in the past few centuries to fit Britain’s narrow canals (some are less than 7 feet wide).

Onboard her floating home she witnesses the seasons up close: “the colours of autumn; the crisp blue skies of winter when everything freezes over and the woodburners puff out their heady smoke; spring when bird life and bats come out and summer when it feels like you are on holiday every day.”

Her vessel is part of a community of narrowboats on London’s Regents Canal where she has lived for the past 6 years (her sister Victoria helped her buy her boat). All the boats here come with a mooring which is permitted, though as Emma points out there are plenty of boat owners on London’s (and Britain’s) canals who continuously cruise without a fixed mooring address.

Emma has also made her boat into a floating office where she crafts handmade creations from secondhand and vintage finds for her Worn With Love label (she’s also a freelance fashion stylist).

Her liveaboard life may be cheaper than flats in her area, but the lifestyle requires constant maintenance: disposing of toilet waste, filling the water tank, replacing cannisters of butane gas and even buying pre-paid cards for electricity.

Her daily life may take more work, but Emma sees this as part of what makes it so magical. “I think we’re too used to our luxuries now aren’t we. Nothing’s meant to be hard anymore. I think it’s really good to have a little bit of hardship to really appreciate how you live and where it’s all coming from. And that’s a luxury in itself.”