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Student Accommodation

Student lives on £800 yacht to save on rent

We love hearing money-saving stories from students who get creative with their budget and accommodation. But Joe's story has to take the biscuit!

joe pearce yacht

Do you struggle to find the money for a deposit or simply hate the idea of throwing money at landlords? Perhaps it's the 8am inspections and viewings that ruffle your feathers.

Well, consider taking a leaf out of Joe Pearce's book. To avoid spending most of his Maintenance Loan on rent, he bought a yacht to live on while studying at Aberystwyth University.

Note: This news story is from 2013, but the information about average accommodation costs has been updated since.

Joe lived on his boat for 14 months while he completed his master's in Physical Geography. He found 'The Golden Cloud' – still seaworthy at 42 years old – online for just £800. That's the equivalent of around a month and a half's rent (and, as the owner, he can always sell the yacht on).

The only rent he paid was £1 a day to keep his yacht in the harbour. That's £365 a year (£366 during a leap year), which is less than just one month's rent (around £550) for the average student.

student joe pearce on yacht

He was sharing a flat with his girlfriend, but after they split up, he couldn't afford the rent on his own. Joe decided to live on a boat instead, saving a huge £5,600. He said:

When I was studying for my master's, I realised I couldn't afford to keep living in a flat. I was sharing a flat with my girlfriend and we would split the £100-a-week rent between us.

But when we broke up I would have had to pay around £400 a month by myself. So I then came up with a crazy idea to buy a boat to live on.

He describes living in the boat as "luxury camping" and like being in a "wooden tent". The parties he's hosted have already gone down in Aber legend!

It was so much fun living on the boat – I saved a lot of money and I've still got it and use it to go fishing around the island.

The boat has got so much character and it's officially my boat.

student joe pearce fishing from his yacht

Joe, not being afraid of diverging from the norm to find a way to save money on accommodation, is an inspiration to us all. Granted, the Manchester canals might not be as welcoming to a 23-foot yacht as a Welsh seaside town, but it does go to show that thinking outside the box can quite literally pay off.

If you're really not attached to creature comforts (and central heating), you might want to follow in Ken Ilgunas' footsteps and live in a van while studying. Or go full Bear Grylls and build a cabin in the woods!

Tip: before putting down a deposit on any type of accommodation – boat or otherwise – review all your living options. Make sure you factor in bills, food shopping and social expenses.

Is Joe's boat a bit too small for your liking? Check out these students living on a houseboat in London.

Owen Burek


Owen is the founder of Save the Student, the leading student money website he started in 2007. He's passionate about educating young people about personal finance and ways to make extra money. Owen has appeared on BBC News and writes for major publications including The Guardian, Entrepreneur and HuffPost.
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