Sunday, 6 June 2010

Live aboard -v- recreational

Is it me, or is there a seed change in the numbers of boaters, moving away from a recreational use of their boat to a live aboard lifestyle? 

It would appear that the idea of a canal lifestyle for singles and those with a younger families is taking a hold. The numbers are not big, but the numbers are growing in significance.

However, a live-aboard retirement is certainly becoming a popular and viable alternative to people thinking about downsizing or to living in caravans. It is hard to give a reason for this change,  other than the general perception that it is less costly to live aboard than it is to live ashore in a property. Many people have this idea that living on a boat is an idyllic way to get cheap accommodation. However, it isn't cheap and it is certainly not always idyllic. However, at the same time, I am not sure that there are any fewer recreational boats around.

My own perception is that there certainly seems to be that there are more live aboard boats around than there were ten years ago. There does however seem to be a significant increase in the number of prematurely retired couples with boats. (We are also included in that number) However, we intend to spend quite a lot of the year cruising, whilst spending the cold winter months at home, so we are more part-time live-aboard.

This observation begs the the burning question : Is the canal a more attractive prospect or a more respectable alternative to the "trashy trailer park" perception that people have about caravan parks for retirement?

There seems to be no shortage of holiday boats available. As the current economic climate belt-tightens us all, I anticipate that there will be more family holidays spent at home rather than abroad. The canal holiday hire businesses are in my opinion,  in a uniquely good position to have significant numbers of new hirers. What will be interesting is the comparative numbers of families who holiday on the canals each year for the foreseeable future. 
There are a few dark clouds on the horizon for the holiday hire businesses. Our waterways are predominately "British orientated" at the moment. Only a small number of foreign visitors tend to be holiday hire boaters. So will the latest recession that is starting to bite, create falling numbers of foreign hirers. One can only make a coin-toss guess, that if we are less inclined to go abroad, so one could find that foreign visitors will be less inclined to come here. Also are the canals starting to become over crowded and what threats does the BW change to a charity status bring with it?

The next few years will be very interesting.


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