Meet Theo + Bee. Theo is a professional filmmaker/photographer and Bee is an animal conservationist. Back in 2014, they were traveling Europe in their converted VW T4 LWB van. They lived this way for two years before moving onto a floating cabin.
Having more space on a boat compared to a van has made room for more luxuries like showering, craft making and a bigger library. They can't imagine living in a "normal" home again.
Square Feet: 180
But it's actually a little less than that. The boat is 30-feet long but our interior space is probably around 20-feet long.
Currently Living: United Kingdom
We’re currently living in the canal network of the United Kingdom, and at the moment in the Midlands. It’s been wonderful to witness all the seasons from the view of the water: ducklings in the spring and frost in the winter.
Make, Model, Year: 1991 Springer Cruiser
Our home is called Bertha! With boats, it’s deemed bad luck to rename them unless they’re out the water, so Bertha has stuck.
Months Living Mobile: 14
What was life like before the boat?
Before we moved into the boat, we were lived for a year and a half in our VWT4 LWB van.
We can’t imagine living in a "normal" home ever again. Previous to vanlife, we lived in a small apartment in the heart of Birmingham.
Why live mobile?
We were getting bogged down with the standard 9-to-5 lifestyle and were not really enjoying it. The possibility to escape whilst we literally had nothing holding us back was enticing. So, we sold pretty much all our belongings and hit the road.
What's it been like going from a van to a boat?
It was pretty straight forward, and it felt a lot easier than buying our van. With narrowboats, there’s no real registered owner—which is a bit crazy—so we just had to change the yearly license to our name once we’d paid for her. We bought Bertha from a guy who practiced Buddhism full-time and lived on the boat for five years. He was moving to a small homestead in Romania to create a Buddhist retreat and had to let go of Bertha.
Do you work in the boat?
It’s the perfect space for us to work from and, even though it’s small, we both have our own spaces to sit and work. With laptops, we have the freedom to move around the boat and chill on our bed or comfy chairs, or even the roof if the weather is decent.
How do you get Internet?
We have unlimited Internet data on our mobile phones which works pretty much most of the time, and we also have a MiFi device which gives us 30GB of data each month. So all in all, we have more than enough to stay connected, which was one of our biggest concerns when moving into the boat. It’s not like in our van, where we could park outside a McDonald's and pick up their Wi-Fi; here we are completely remote.
Where do you receive mail?
Mail is delivered to our parents house (which is what we did when we were in the van), who live about an hour away from us. We’re pretty much paperless and rarely get mail. It’s mainly packages that we need delivered there. There’s always the option to have mail delivered to local post offices via Poste restante, a service where the post office holds mail until the recipient calls for it. We’ve used it many times in the UK and in Europe. It’s great!
What are your top go-to items?
Solar Panels: They allow us to be completely off the grid.
Woodburner: Another off-grid amenity we could not live without. It is our only source of heating and adds a special element to our tiny home.
Candles: Our main source of lighting (even though we do have 12V lights) because they produce such a cozy glow.
Why live this way?
The ability to focus on what you really need in your personal space. For me, it's books and for Theo, I would say it’s his camera gear. We don’t have much else. In our small space, they take up a lot of room.
Are there challenges?
Not having an endless supply of running water or a flushing toilet that takes care of itself. These are honestly not even that challenging. Certain times of year, the taps where we fill up for the boat can freeze. This can be a bit of a challenge for us as we then miss out on having water in our boat until the taps are working again.
Emptying a toilet is never fun, but it’s really not a big deal.
Has traveling as a couple affected you for better or worse?
We've been together since we were 16. Traveling doesn't make our relationship worse as some people might think. We get asked regularly how we get on in such a small space.
What would you tell someone who wants to try tiny living?
Just do it! If you really want to try it, then there’s always the option to try it out first. Rent a van, rent a small home for a night or spend a day on the canals. This will give you a taste and really help you decide. I think the small space can really put people off because it’s hard to imagine yourself living in a drastically small environment.
Will you always live this way?
At the moment, we can’t imagine going back to our previous way of living. There’s so many options for off-the-grid, alternative living that we can’t see ourselves living how we did previously anytime soon.
We’ve got some super exciting projects in the pipeline and we can’t wait to share them with everyone, but for now we are still in the planning stages. Our boat is still a work in progress and we have more stuff we would like to do, but we're excited to share it all with you.