THE coronavirus pandemic has fuelled a surge in people opting to live on water.

Waterlodge, a supplier which has a number of floating homes in Sussex, including at Brighton Marina, said its sales were up by 50 per cent in October compared with last year, despite the business being closed for two months at the height of lockdown.

Sales inquiries increased by just over 100 per cent in 2020, while the number of would-be buyers browsing its website was up by 102 per cent.

Sara Shepherd decided to buy a floating home which would be permanently moored in Littlehampton Marina.

The 54-year-old charity worker said she “fell in love” with the three-bedroom water home, which is 50 sqm.

She said: “I saw the show home boat and something about it just captured my imagination. I made the decision and chose all the specifications and fittings in an hour and a half. I felt very decisive.”

The rise in “staycations” in 2020 amid international travel restrictions has also fuelled the trend for floating second homes.

Simon Jenkins bought a floating lodge in Brighton Marina as a holiday home, where prices start at £61,900.

The 60-year-old insurance worker from Bedfordshire said: “We always dreamed of getting a place in Brighton, but the property prices were ridiculous and kept going up. We would have had to stretch ourselves to financial breaking point to afford a tiny flat. Then we came across floating lodges, a hybrid of a modern house and a boat, and found we could get a two-bedroom home for under £100,000, instead of a single bedroom flat for more than double that.”

Simon and his wife Elizabeth have spent as much time as possible at their lodge since buying it in September, when restrictions allowed. The couple are considering making it their full-time retirement home.

Simon said: “We’re looking at setting up so we can work from the lodge too – we’re already planning a trial week in spring where we can both be working from home there. We love it.”

Andrew Hyland, of Waterlodge UK, said: “When the first lockdown was announced in March we had to furlough our staff, as prospective clients got cold feet and pulled out of purchases. But as soon as restrictions began to ease in the glorious spring weather, the phones didn’t stop ringing. People realised they were unlikely to be able to enjoy their normal foreign summer holiday so wanted to make the most of their staycation – and what better way than on the water?”