I’m an Ex-CamperVan-OffGridder who moved to a boat eventually due to some reasons explained in my brief story here in ‘introductions’; I’m happy to help with advice gained by my own experience, or simply chat & meet like-minded people (quite rare down here in the posh south-UK / Solent-area)

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11 Responses to “Ex-MobileHome OffGridder moved to boat, happy to advise from own experience”

  1. Ant

    Hi great information in your previous posts.
    I’ve had a caravan sited in Sandford (seasonal) but it costs £4K a year grrr, i’ve always been interested in having a live aboard boat to use on weekends instead. I live in Berkshire and travel down most weekends. The cost is becoming more of an issue. My kids live in Weymouth so anywhere Portsmouth to Poole works.
    Please will you provide any information you have on the marina’s/moorings as mentioned previously, that would be ,much appreciated.
    Kind Regards Ant

    • mobile-estates

      Hi Ant, in case you’re still around, I sent you an email a few weeks ago so you can contact me with your questions. Or you post them here. (again, strange bugs on this page..your post shows as ‘September’ but off-grids’ notification email came 2nd of January)

  2. mobile-estates

    Weird site recently, impossible to access the past post & replies, my initial help offer is shortened tl a length that thje “solar stove ad” below is more prominent than my text – a bit sad.
    Also the forum is gone, lots of good advice was in there – now brings up an error “4-0-4 We can’t find the page you requested”

  3. Alrod53

    Yes living on a boat is cool at first, Been there done that. I moved from a beachfront house in NSB fl. lived on my boat a 50 foot Chriscraft for two years lots of room 3 double berths 2 bathrooms very nice till hurricane Andrew came along wasn’t all that bad anchored out, but the boats that stayed in the marina took a beating. when living on a boat you are off the grid unless your docked at a marina then you can get tv internet and phone but you pay…Not off the grid .
    like I said before it is fun at first, We went to the Bahamas and just sailed the inter coastal waterway from St.Augustine to West Palm stopping everywhere in between. To me the biggest worry of sorts was 1. weather and tides and 2. If my house were to sink with all of my stuff in it……..Just something to think about

    • mobile-estates

      You’re right Alrod, boats at shore while a hurricane get beaten; (drift)anchoring out is the only way.

      You replied just a week or two before the Hurricanes hit the Caribbean; the carnage in caribbean marinas, even among the blocked up boats, was terrible to see (Although that means lot’s of cheap insurance write-offs available if someone is after a bargain) I can imagine lot’s of these battered yachts (up to mega-class) were unmanned anyway; owners away as with most boats worldwide.

      Anyway, not much Hurricanes over here in the old world fortunately ;)

      TV, internet and phone are things I have off grid as well, no marina needed for that – as I wrote below, I think boats are the ultimate Off-Grid platform – they simply have to be. Everything which applies for technique & support systems on boats also can be of help for a smallholding in the wild, or remote house – rain water collecting, Solar Electricity & Battery Bank, independance from society etc

      And although I personally prefer a jetty shore access and can indeed plug into the grid (for a low fee), this is voluntarily, and my boat is totally off-grid and built for it – I have a battery bank, solar panels and for back-up in case the 120hp Diesel Engine is not running (most of the time of course) and no sun available, there’s a small diesel generator sitting in the engine room. Rainwater collector tank gravity-feeds my daily washing up water, but there is a big water tank built into as well, attached to pumps for shower etc.

      You mention teh worry of If the “house” sinks with all stuff in it – yes, that’s indeed a worry, but it’s the same with a house in case of fire; the correct insurance is important of course. But also the same danger for both, house and live-aboard boats applies to burglary, and storm damage – not sooo different after all – except the house / land property can’t move, and is mostly far more expensive :)

  4. JB


    Very interested in hearing about your story



  5. mobile-estates

    Well as Nick asked, here’s ome more details ‘why’ I skipped land based homes for now:

    I checked out some countries each for a couple of months to see if I would consider living there (a good way to see if you like it by the way, without jumping in to fast)

    In the end (after the experiences I describe here https://www.off-grid.net/forums/topic/my-introduction-some-countries-i-tried-my-mobile-off-grid-concepts) back in my home land in central Europe I discovered my dislike for being dependand on a rented accommodation to test such countries, and switched back to living in a mobile home; again a pretty standard VW T2 Campervan with a high roof (a MUST, due to storage and head space) well, it was the happiest time in my live by far – minimalistic, not too much stuff around me, changing place whenever I wanted to, whereever I wanted, daily or weekly. I was still working to make a living though.

    The way to live mobile in central europe is relatively easy to accomplish, as there are free facilities for camper vans everywhere, in almost every town – and if the van looks “normal”, no-one takes offense, given the location is switched every couple of days. In THAT respect some central european countries are paradise (…see a good blog of a british guy travelling since 3 years – his blog is called vandogtraveller)

    That all changed when I decided to pack up and come to England, simply because everyone speaks a language I can easily converse in, and because it’s an island with loads of nice coast and (sort of) civilized people – what I learned quite quickly after living a while in my camper van, that it’s a gypso-phobic country which makes finding even over-night parking very hard; one fact which kinda spoils it for van living.

    It probably didn’t help that I “upgraded” my VW to a classic, big MB MotorHome, lower tax and insurance, but definetily not a lower profile.
    Because “normal” residents / “proper” UK citizens are always on the watch for anything looking like a scout vehicle of a gypsy family invading the neighborhood a day later with a 10+ van fleet – so sometimes I was inspected by 3-man-strong police cars, more often than in any given time in other countries I travelled. They were actually called in by residents simply lying, saying I was parking there since 2 weeks – what joy.

    The next step was an attempt to go “Stealth” – if you are on off-grid.net and familiar with off-grid campervans chances are you know the term Stealth-Campervan, a vehicle looking commercial or un-inhabited, but a mobile home inside, which can -in theory- park anywhere for a short time without suspicion. So I purchased a bigger version of my previous MobileHome, fitted it out, but learned it was a shard to find parking as before; as commecial vehicles are not seen kindly either. By then I looked for long term rental / van parking / weekend property to put the van on, enjoy weekends with BBQ and friends, hassle free – but nothing available on my budget here in teh south / Solent (buying always was out of question due to lack of funds)

    So I needed a change of strategy – and eventually moved my mobile residence onto water, and now live (more or less) off-grid on boats at the seaside of britain (on a jetty whith easy access to land) , this is now a few years ago, and everything is fine :) (..note that I’m keeping to the sea shore, not on “inland waterways” which is a different thing to do and is heavily regulated – it was just recently in the news that in/around London the rate of people living on canal boats increased so much waterways can’t cope any more – all due to unaffordable land rental prices)

    My plan to move away and abroad is not cancelled; the opposite – because I now have the means of practically take my off-grid-“house” with me, like a campervan but able to cross water cheap rather than ferries, entering other countries easier than by vehicle, to check them out and possibly life there. Right now I’m simply stocking up on funds to be more independant.

    I just wanted to share my story, maybe I can help somehow…any questions simply ask :)

    • Sara

      Hi, I know the boat thing is more of a side-story here, but I would really like to learn more about the practicalities of this, especially in your local area/ Southampton way (I’m in Bournemouth at the moment) – where to find cheap and comfortable mooring. And even though I don’t intend to go anywhere much, do I need a licence for my (future) boat? As you can tell, I’m rather new to all these ideas. Thanks for any help!!

      • mobile-estates

        Hi Sara, nice to read from someone in the area – my reply might be more useful to you as to someone for example in US waters, where very different rules & regulations apply.

        I can only speak for UKs’ shore waters / coastline, as I never moored on inland waterways (lots of regulations to obey as I read & hear – but there are good books out there)

        Yes you’re right, boats are not so much discussed here, although I think boats are the ultimate Off-Grid platform – they simply have to be :) and everything which applies for technique & support systems on boats can be of help for a new built smallholding in the wild, rain water collecting, Solar Electricity, independence from society etc

        To answer your questions in short up-front:

        – Finding cheap and comfortable mooring: these are two things which might, but don’t have to oppose each other; possible, yes! ‘Comfortable’ would be Jetty access, shore bathroom with hot shower, maybe washing machine in the yard, cafe bar etc …’cheapest’ would be either swinging / deepwater mooring with dinghy access. A friend of mine (who probably is a bit of an extreme example) rows 200 yards every morning ashore to his car to commute to work, and back in the evenings to his 27ft boat on a pontoon mooring in the deep water channel, where it’s quite, recluse and where he enjoys the view in beautiful nature – he moved there from a being land based years ago and wouldn’t change it for anything in the world – and it keeps him fit ;)

        – You don’t intend to go anywhere much, and do you need a license for your (future) boat? No, on UK shores no license required for private boats under 24m, and no registration nor “MOT” either (as opposed to inland-waterways)

        – You’re rather new to all these ideas? …don’t you worry, all of us have at some point – the quest & steep learning curve is well worth it, as your experience-horizon will be waaay ahead & above the sheeply crowd who lives & works for paying fortunes for their pathetic rented flats & mortgaged properties (…nothing wrong with a mansion, but I simply enjoy having the view of a seaside mansion for the price of a camp site :)

        Well, to go into more detail: UKs coastline (where we mostly find moorings with shore access) is more or less the area between high- and low-watermark, is regulated / owned by the crown, not the councils, and rented out by the crowns estate agents – unfortunately here in the south all moorings have been long taken by many established mooring companies – they rent it from the crowns’ agents for a hilariously low, yearly fee and rent them out quite high, therefore making loads of money – fair enough, first comes first served – that’s life in general. Up north (very, very far north) for example people still can find appropriate mooring locations, drop their own concrete filled oil barrel or railway wheel and then negotiate directly with / claim the mooring from the crowns’ estate agent. These days have long passed down here in the south – but don’t despair ;)

        One thing to keep in mind when thinking of moving onto shore line waters: there are 10.000s’ of boats already moored up, LOADS of them abandoned at their boatyard mooring, unpaid, ready to be sold on or to be scrapped (boatyards sometimes find it too much hassle to sell/auction boats) so that’s the point: the owners have left, the boats are still sitting there taking space, the boatyards are happy to find new owners proceeding to pay rent.

        So to start, there is one easy approach you can do – rather than looking for your advertised dream boat to purchase first (tempting of course), and then afterwards looking for an empty, available mooring (which is rare) it’s often easier to sort through advertised boats and find these which can stay at their mooring. Or, keep an eye peeled for sort-of-neglected-looking boats in yards nearby or in an area near where you work, which you like etc or maybe new locations you would enjoy living (although Bournemouth/Poole is really beautiful and hard to beat of course – I’d prefer that actually)

        You would be surprise what you can find, and how approachable boatyards are when they realize they talk to a new (reliable) paying client who wants to stay. Such deals can even mean your ‘free boat’ for a new rental contract (even including a bill-of-sale, mostly 1 quid which makes you the new owner, not just a ‘boat rental’ – of course never the less you are free to move anywhere later on and are not bound to that boatyard; it’s just that the yard hopes that you stay)

        Above mentioned boatyards and possibilities include almost all smaller marinas, not the big money grabbing chains like premier etc which are so common down here around the south and the solent – these are mostly less approachable, but of course you might be lucky, it still depends on the local manager – asking can’t hurt :)

        Anyway, to specifically answer your question for cheap and comfortable mooring, may I ask how far from Bournemouth you are looking at?

        …in Bournemouth/Poole/Christchurch I personally have no connections, but over here, Southampton, Portsmouth I can name you boatyards which are happy to welcome you as a liveaboard, even though these are non-residential moorings (I’m happy to recommend some via email or private message as I don’t want to post them online, as information can change over time and the interweb is timeless and never forgets)

        That’s the next thing to bear in mind with shore/coastal moorings – the difference between residential & non-residential moorings: the latter ones are more expensive, more rare, and harder to get – and mostly not necessary at all: I have / and always had normal, non-residential jetty-moorings, and though of course not paying council tax, I always had full access to social & council services, health insurance and registration with a local GP (doctors practice) Friends of mine even got housing benefit (for readers abroad, that’s UK financial help for paying your rent, while someone is unemployed) which payed for their non-residential mooring (if you ask why would the state do that: it’s much cheaper for the council than paying rent for a flat etc)

        Live-aboards are citizens as everybody else by law, and have to have access to services – the one thing you will need without a residential mooring is to rent a land based address. (Because on residential moorings live-aboards are comfortable receiving all their post; with non-residential moorings this might be possible, but some boatyards simply don’t want boat customers using their yard as postbox, because they don’t want to deal with the hassle & costs the council might throw at them.) Renting a land based address is easy and cheap; I pay around 15pound per month, there are many services out there (I can recommend some via email or private message)

        This address can and will be used for all your legal paperwork, as for bank, credits, doctor, work contract, drivers license , ID/passports, taxes, benefits, school etc pp …sounds funny, but it works and many do it that way :)

        Note that if you have children it might involve services I have no experience with, as I don’t have kids – but as far as I know the address defines which school the kids are allowed top go to.

        Hope that wasn’t too much info; I tend write too much when I reflect on things – sorry for that.
        Any questions simply ask!

        • Off grid hopefull

          Hi, I’m about to go buy a boat tomorrow and would greatly appreciate your advice on this matter particularly with the £15 a month land based addresses as well as tips for mooring as I want to escape London rents and live aboard a boat.
          My e-mail is tuveruscra@gmail.com e-mail me and ill gladly message you back with my phone number. All the very best

  6. Nick Rosen

    Please contact nick@off-grid.net – wondered if you cold tell readers more about your transition from mobile home to boat.