GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM: London’s Houseboaters

The uninterrupted increase of London’s renting costs has led many to find alternative solutions to continue sustaining life in the English capital. In the last 7 years the number of houseboats in London has doubled and authorities have estimated “a new boat every day in the last year”. Such a tendency, named ‘boat bubble’, has led to an increase in the price of houseboats.

Yet, money does not seem to be the only reason why people decide to live on boats. In fact, many are pushed by the search of a certain type of lifestyle: “the freedom that comes with it makes up for all the waivers”, comment houseboaters.

Through a selection of boaters, the present reportage at once confirms the above economic change and explores the specific type of lifestyle embraced by those living on water, as well as their very personalised – thus reflective – houses.

London’s houseboaters seem to make up a considerably varied group, ranging from traveling artists and circus acrobats, to students, workers, families and finally to retired couples. Equally as varied are their thoughts and reflections. While many relate the houseboat to an economic decision, many others prefer to comment the benefits of living in a movable house on London’s waters. These comprise: the possibility to ‘live in many different places without ever uprooting one’s home”, a proximity to nature that often city life does not provide and ‘the houseboaters communities’ which get formed along every canal and are incredibly tied and supportive.

Finally, while some have recently moved onto boats, some have been navigating London’s waters for as long as 60 years and yet others have been houseboaters since birth.

Houseboaters communities have long been part of the British capital, but with the increasing costs of renting, canals are now busier than theyhave ever been. Will the ‘boat burst’ and houseboaters be forced to seek other waters?

About the autors:

f27 was founded in London in November 2015. It consists of a group of freelance photo reporters concerned with everyday realities of city life, individual histories and community issues. Its name was inspired by the Kabbalah ‘27’, which indicates both achievement and chance; thus both consistency and attentiveness to the unexpected. The members of the group are Marco Sconocchia, Turin born photographer practicing in London since 2012, Andrea Pinna, born in Sardinia and graduated in geology between Italy and Spain and Beatrice Tura, long-term London resident, with a background in social anthropology and urban sociology.

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