Man ditches pricey London flat for off-grid life after watching Netflix hit

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A man has ditched his expensive flat for a mortgage-free life on a narrow boat

One man has gotten rid of his one-bedroom flat in London to live completely mortgage-free – on a boat.

Calum Henderson, 31, had been paying an eyewatering £1.4k per month to live in Elephant and Castle before watching Sarah Beeny’s Netflix show, How To Live Mortgage Free. But after splashing thousands to live in the property, he’d decided he’d had enough and forked out £44,000 for a narrowboat.

The former hairdresser even went as far as to quit his job after watching the Netflix programme after purchasing his boat in March 2019. He spent one year and £50,000 renovating the vessel after not shelling out £1.4k every month, while also taking out an £8,000 loan.

He transformed the boat – installing lithium batteries, underfloor heating, and adding more installation. But after eight months living on it, he sold it for £125k and bought a bigger boat – a 62-foot wide beam shell – in 2021 for £64k. He went on to spend eight months renovating the boat and £66,000 turning it into his dream home, including a large kitchen, spare room, living room and astroturf roof.

Calum Henderson has waved goodbye to expensive London living costs He even quit his job and turned his hand to boat renovations

Calum, who lives on the narrowboat and now works as a boat fitter said: “It is a passion I never knew I had. When you have a boat there is always something to do, something to fix – it is like having a part-time job.” Calum, who lives with his cockapoo Bilston added: “I love the building process, we enjoy building the boats on the water.

“You can be in the thick of a building site and step outside and you’re on the water in the middle of nature. Whatever I am investing is in my own thing rather than spending rent away, it is giving me the freedom to design and build my place to how I want it to be. I don’t have to worry about big mortgage payments, it has made me more self-efficient, I am more aware of how much your spending a month.”

Reflecting on his life-changing decision after watching the Netflix show, Calum continued: “I have always been interested in property development and there was a boat on the show which got us thinking. I was a trainee plumber at the time too and did some work on someone’s narrowboat bathroom.”

Calum now lives on his stunning narrowboat with his cockapoo The narrowboat features stunning interiors

He and his ex-girlfriend had already looked at narrowboats but said they couldn’t find one with enough storage for them both. “We found a brokerage that sells you just the shell of the boat, I had £25k saved and my partner at the time took out a £20k loan from her parents,” he said before adding: “We put a £1,000 deposit down and four months later it turned up on the back of a lorry.”

The former couple moved in just two weeks later with nothing more than a mattress, flashlight and water. “We would use the £1,400 a month we saved up on rent and spent £50k in total,” he explained.

Calum did all the renovation himself and lived on the boat for a year with his ex-partner before selling it. However, he wanted a bigger project and bought a 62-foot wide-beam boat shell in 2021. He then spent six to eight months renovating the boat, adding solar panels, underfloor heating, a large kitchen diner, and a bathroom complete with a bath and shower.

His new moveable home boasts space that some living in London could only dream of

He paid for the new boat by using funds from his old narrowboat and using his monthly salary. Calum said: “This boat is like my old boat but on steroids. We upgraded all the old systems, we added more storage and probably did a better job learning from past mistakes. This project took around six to eight months, usually it would take me three months to build but I had some client projects on at the same time.”

On the back of his two successful narrowboats, Calum launched Boat Fit Co, and he builds and renovates homes for people living off-grid on the water. Since launching five years ago, he has built 10 narrowboats, consulted on six and part built a further 10. He said: “With narrowboats, it is slightly more unregulated than houses. You have more control – you get to design and build it your own way.

“You really need to consider the client lifestyle too – how much water are they going to need on board or how are they going to be using that space. You need to design a boat that they can live off-grid to suit their lifestyle.”

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