From Burley to houseboat: Why this Leeds couple swapped bricks and mortar for life on the water

There are not many people that would swap the comforts of a brick and mortar home for life on a houseboat, but for this nomadic couple, it was the perfect step.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 2:35 pm
Former Leeds students Adam Lind, 28, and Lauren Coley, 28, moved into a houseboat in 2020.

Adam Lind 28, and Lauren Coley, 28, first met when they were second-year students at Leeds Metropolitan University.

During his studies, Adam and a friend had founded the Deep Fever house and techno night at Mint Club, and it was through that that Adam met Lauren, who was creating artwork for the club.

Coincidentally, it turned out that they both lived on the same street in Hyde Park, where they remained until graduation, before moving into a house together in Burley.

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Adam relaxing inside the cosy, colourful and light-filled boat.

They lived in Leeds for three more years before leaving to explore the world, setting themselves the awe-inspiring challenge of hitchhiking from Amsterdam to Asia.

Adam said: “I started a business while I was at uni and it was going well enough for us to stay on in Leeds after uni. It was a really good time.

“However, both of us wanted to travel, so we just packed a backpack and got on a bus to the Netherlands, and said ‘we'll be back one day'.

“We spent years travelling, not using any kind of buses or trains or planes, just hitchhiking and relying on strangers.

The couple's boat on the water. They are currently residing in Oxford.

“It was all really amazing and insightful but we just reached a point where we missed having a base.

“As a couple, we were often sleeping in our tent or being hosted by amazing people, but we just missed our space, and we wanted to put into practice a lot of the things we learn on the road.”

After years of travel, the couple began yearning to set up a home together and found themselves back in England just as the Covid pandemic hit.

Thankfully, they were able to move in with family and it was during this time the couple established their own businesses, Adam working with natural stones and Lauren as a jewellery maker.

Lauren has begun to create a vegetable garden on top of the boat.

It was through a family friend that the couple were introduced to the concept of houseboat living.

Adam said: “One day Lauren’s mum went for a walk with a friend who happened to live on a boat and when she came back she said ‘I could see you two on a boat’.

“It just went from there - I was researching and watching videos and it seemed like something that could work for us.

“From a property and a young person perspective, we couldn't afford a mortgage, and even if we could have, we'd only been self-employed for six months and despite how much money we had in the bank, we wouldn't have been given a mortgage for a couple of years.

The lounge and kitchen area in the boat, complete with cosy fireplace.

"We also didn't want to rent because we didn't know where in the country we wanted to live.

“When we’d decided to go for it, we took a bank loan for £25,000.

“The boat cost £38,000 and now we pay back the loan every month for £450 which, between the two of us, is so much cheaper than any rent we could find.

“In five years the boat is ours and then we'll have this asset that we can then sell.

“From a financial perspective, it just all started falling into place and just seemed to make so much sense because we're paying for something that is ours.”

It wasn’t just the financial aspect that encouraged the pair to take the leap, it also appealed to their love of travel.

The bright and airy bathroom on the houseboat.

“Because we travelled for so many years we have this like nomadic blood,” Adam explained.

“The boat seemed like the best of both worlds.

“We could still move around and see all these places but we have our base and everywhere we go all of our belongings come with us.

“Not only that, but we knew the canal network runs through Leeds and also where our families live in London and the Midlands.

“It was like everything we could have wanted when we were finishing travelling but just something we never considered.”

Life on a boat comes with its challenges, which the pair have had to adjust to while taking on the additional challenge of adopting their beloved Cocker Spaniel puppy, Shanti

But despite the changes, the pair say they love their new lifestyle - and can’t wait to chart the boat up to visit loved ones in Leeds.

“Our friends keep asking us ‘when are you coming up to Leeds?’ but they’ve all put down roots in the city and aren’t going anywhere, so we can keep travelling and there’s no rush", Adam laughed.

“One of the reasons I love Leeds is when you're from Leeds, you are passionate about where you're from.

“There’s such a sense of community so we’re definitely going to head up the Leeds Liverpool Canal."

Adam added: “We just love the life.

“It has its challenges, though we don’t see them as challenges anymore.

“For example, you have to be a lot less wasteful, you can't run the tap continuously because your water will run out, you have to go fill up your water tank, you have to deal with your toilet waste - there are luxuries you have in a house that you don't have on a boat.

“It's a very active lifestyle and we have to be conscious in terms of our consumption but that is nice because it allows us to think outside the box on how to be more self-sufficient.

“Since having the boat, we've seen all these beautiful parts of the UK, and the community aspect is fantastic, all the people on the other boats will speak to you.

“If you've ever got a problem, someone will be in your engine helping you out, and it's every day you're learning something new.

“I’ve even started a podcast talking about boat life and mental health.

“It's been a world of opportunity and we feel very grateful.”

You can follow Adam and Lauren’s journey on their Instagram page @adam.floatinghome and on Adam’s Floating Home Podcast:

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