Couple who swapped house for £47k narrowboat say they couldn’t be happier after ‘quitting the rat race’
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A couple quit the rat race to live off-grid and travel full-time in their boat - and say they have “taken control” of their lives as a result. Amy Cross, 28, and her partner, Wes Arthur, 30, a designer, were sick of their 40 hour hour working weeks in their hometown of Sheffield.
Set on choosing their own hours and avoiding overtime, they decided to overhaul their lifestyle - ditching their rented £675-a-month three-bedroom home and changing their jobs to have less responsibility and stress. The couple say they “weren’t passionate” about getting a mortgage so instead spent £48,000 on a 50ft narrowboat - named Gregory’s Girl - in June 2021.
The pair now work remotely from their boat and sail around the UK - having travelled through Wales, the Midlands, and down the entire length of the River Thames. Since moving onto the water, Amy and Wes say they feel “free” - having sailed the length of the UK alongside their Labrador cross, Rufus, and rabbit, Rupert.
Amy Cross, a content creator, from Nottingham, said: “We were working full time and renting our house. We were looking for what was next.
“We did start looking down the mortgage route, but we weren’t passionate about it. We weren’t excited about the prospect of getting a mortgage and a house.”
Wes, from Lincoln, added: “We have always been interested in travelling. Our favourite holidays have been city breaks - where we can do a lot of travelling - and we were toying with the idea of getting a van and travelling around Europe.”
Amy and Wes stumbled across narrowboats and rented one out for the winter of 2020 to see if it was something they could do full-time. After spending a few months on a rented boat, the couple took out a personal bank loan for their boat.
Amy said: “She was the third boat we viewed, and we have been on her ever since - we absolutely love her. We had certain things we definitely knew we wanted.
“We wanted a cruiser stern - a larger boat with outside space - as we knew we wanted the dog out with us and wanted to be comfortable. We also wanted a reverse layout - a lot of narrowboats have you enter through the bedroom, but we didn’t want that and wanted to walk through to the kitchen.
“We also wanted one that was pretty good to go as it is. A lot of people buy a narrowboat and spend years doing it up, but we’re not very savvy when it comes to DIY.”
Amy and Wes say moving onto the boat made them re-evaluate their lives. Amy quit her full-time job in admin to focus on content creation, and Wes resigned from a role as a lead gaming designer and now works as a designer.
Wes said: “A lot of it comes down to feeling like we are in control of what we want to do. Not having to have a large sum going out other than our bank loan is easier to manage our own way.
“One of the main things for me was that a few months into living on the boat, Amy quit her job. I was in a high-ranking job, but after a while, I stepped down and moved to a different company where I could have less responsibility and stress. It has allowed me to focus on my mental health and adventure rather than constantly trying to grind money.”
Amy said that her family was really supportive of the move but were upset they would see the couple less due to them having to move the boat around. She added: “On the most part, they were all really happy - there were definitely some questions about how
things would work.
“There was some scepticism, but overall, they were really excited and supportive. We are moving about all the time - we’re unable to see our family.”
Amy and Wes move the boat once a week, and their adventures have taken them through Wales, the Midlands, and down the entire length of the River Thames. Wes said: “We bought the boat near Chester.
“We have done the whole of north Wales, headed east and went near Nottingham, and then since we have come south through Leicester. We have done the whole Thames - going under Tower Bridge was a special moment.”
Wes said going off-grid has made the couple resilient in a way that they wouldn’t be if they stayed in the “rat race”. Wes said: “I am surprised with how much it has built out characters.
“It has made us very resilient, being forced to tackle random problems head-on and being forced to improvise. It really does prove to yourself that you can handle more than you think.
“It is a massive confidence booster too - we have figured out how to make it work, and that is very rewarding. It is validating that we have broken away from the rat race, we are doing our own thing and what we like.”