Due to popular demand!? I have decided to write a rough guide to things you should know about living on a boat.
First, and most important is - Is it for you? If you've already lived in a van or something similar then you'll have a good idea. But if not then you have to realise that it is VERY different to living in a house. Sure, most boats, narrowboats at least, have electrics (maybe only 12v) and plumbing, but in general, you won't have any 'on grid' type services.
Water is stored in a tank - usually about 70 gallons or so. That doesn't last long and you have to fill up every few days from a stand pipe by the side of the canal, or from water point in the marina if you are in one. You have to be conservative with water, some boats do have baths n washing machines and such like in, but the more water you use, the more often you'll be having to fill up. My boat has 3 tanks in it, so can last a lot longer between refills, but then it was built to be lived on, most boats aren't.
Electric, as mentioned, may only be 12v, especially on older boats. That might mean that you have to get rid of any 240v stuff that you have - computers, hifis, tvs etc. An alternative would be to wire it up for 240v or run it all of a generator on the boat. Generators can be noisy and are not very well loved by most boaters who like peace n quiet, especially in the evenings. A lot of more modern boats will now have 240v electric, but that is converted from 12v using an inverter. However much electric you are using tho' it will all be sourced from the leisure batteries on the boat. These are charged up usually by running the boats engine - again try not to do this in the evening if you are around other boaters. An alternative of course is solar and/or wind power to recharge batteries. It can be viable if you live a fairly simple life with few energy draining appliances. Apparently hairdryers, microwaves and washing machines are the things that drain the batteries the quickest. These are things that are becoming increasing more common on narrowboats as more and more people with money buy their own boat to use at weekends and holidays, but I don't have any on my boat and don't intend to cos of the load they need. Running the boats engine to charge the batteries of course uses diesel and puts hours on the engine, thus wear and tear (usage of marine engines is reckoned in hours used, not distance travelled)
And of course a narrowboat is a small space. No more than 6 ft wide, with a maximum living space length of around 40 ft if you want a boat you can take anywhere on the canal system. It isn't a lifestyle if you are a hoarder of 'things'. In the summer, being on a boat is amazing, but in the depths of winter when it's cold and dark and has been raining for days, cabin fever can set in cos you're stuck in a small enclosed space.
There are communities of alternative people, such as us lot 'ere living on boats dotted around the canals, but a huge number of teh people you'll see with their own boats are of the Daily Mail/Telegraph/Times variety - some of them will be so stuck up they won't speak to you. Many of them will be flying the red ensign or some other 'nationalistic' flag from their boat (just wait until I've got a red n black anarchist flag on mine . Most people tho' are actually fairly friendly - or at least they will acknowledge you and say hello, which can be better than living in a street where no talks to each other.
If you have never been on a boat, then do try it out for a few days. Narrowboat holidays are very expensive, especially in high season, but it's worth trying it for a week at least. I went on a narrowboat holiday with a group of friends nearly 20 years ago and loved it. I've only recently bought my own boat but don't regret it in the slightest, even tho' there is a lot of work to do on it...
More to follow shortly - otherwise this will be a massive post...