High rents and sky rocketing house prices have sparked a 50% rise in the number of people living on London's canals in the past five years, with many seeing life on a house boat as a viable cheaper alternative to renting rooms elsewhere in the capital.

In Hackney, an area in east London which is becoming increasingly popular with artists and young professionals, there was an 85 percent increase in the amount of boats last year. Student midwife, Tara O'Sullivan has temporarily moored her boat next to Victoria Park in east London. She only just bought her canal boat and says it was a sensible purchase instead of renting in the city.

"It just seems a bit silly to be paying so much rent in London. It's just wasting it the whole time. So I thought why not buy a houseboat? Then I can live in London, move every two weeks and be paying off an investment."

Sorwar Ahmed, London boat liaison manager for the Canal and River Trust said that the canal boat lifestyle might not be for everyone and shouldn't be seen as an alternative for cheap housing.

"We are seeing more people live aboard and I suspect that people do consider it to be a fairly cheap option, however there are lots of challenges involved with that and a lot of hidden costs that people need to be aware of before they take the plunge," he said.

Canal life in London isn't without its problems; with the number of boats multiplying, demand for moorings is outstripping supply and as a result costs are increasing too. Those without a permanent mooring are granted a license on the condition that they 'continuously cruise'.

The Canal and River trust specify that during 'cruising', the boat should not be "In any one place more than 14 days," although critics say that the wording is too vague. If boaters violate this condition, they risk the restriction or revoking of their boating license.

Electricity is scarce living on a boat and basic sanitary tasks such as emptying waste from the toilet require specialist facilities on the river bank. Many people living on the water say that the facilities for the increasing number of boats are not adequate and blame the Canal and River Trust for failing to adapt to demand.

"We know that boating numbers have risen, but they haven't given us facilities to match that. There's five water points in central London for thousands of boaters, that's ridiculous. We haven't just appeared on to the scene. They've had years to sort this out," said boat-owner Blanka Hay.

With the average property in London on the market for more than £490,000 ($766,000), that's a rise of 45 percent in five years according to Lloyds Bank. Slow economic growth combined with wage stagnation means the flood of people looking to live on the capitals waterways doesn't look like it will recede anytime soon.