First-time buyers, unable to compete with the spiralling cost of houses in the region, are taking to the water and investing in narrowboats.
Faced with a 160 per cent increase in house prices nationally over the last nine years, boat builders are reporting a huge boom in business across the region.
And demand for long-term moorings in Birmingham city centre is so strong that people are having to put their name on long waiting lists.
British Waterways has warned anyone thinking of buying a boat to get in touch first to check availability of space.
"There has been a large increase in demand for residential moorings in Birmingham city centre over the last couple of years," said Laura Mackin, of British Waterways' Birmingham office.
"The West Midlands is very popular at the moment. People are recognising it is a great place to live, but prices are high for homes, particularly around the city centre. So buying a narrowboat is an attractive option."
Birmingham's city-living boom has been well documented, with new flats and apartments springing up around the opened up canal network near Gas Street Basin.
But the move into the water has been a more recent event and the savings to be made are substantial.
A two-bedroom flat based at the Royal Arch in the Mailbox, for example, would set you back £250,000.
Meanwhile, a fully-fitted narrowboat which could be moored to the canalside below, can be built to order for less than £60,000.
With the average price of a house in the region now more than £284,000 for a detached property and £141,500 for a terraced, the appeal to firsttime buyers in particular is obvious.
Brierley Hill-based Grosvenor Marsh Narrowboats, has noted a significant increase in demand since it started building boathouses three years ago.
Clive Grosvenor, the firm's co-director, said: "People are buying them but they can't get moorings because they are so jam-packed in the Midlands.
"It has definitely increased in popularity in recent years. We have first-time buyers coming to us because there is more room on a boat than in a flat."
The company currently has two boats for sale, priced at £59,850 each, which it expects to be snapped up.
While house prices have risen by 12.3 per cent this year, the cost of narrowboats has remained fairly static, keeping them in range of those seeking a first step on the property ladder.
Anyone considering buying a narrowboat will have to go to a specialist, such as Barclays Marine Finance, rather than a High Street bank.
Rates on offer, however, generally compare well.
Paul Harvey, owner of Tamworth-based Harveys Joinery which sells boats complete with showers and central heating, claimed they generally hold their value.
"Second-hand boats are fetching as much as new ones, there is a very good market in them at the moment," he said.
The 44-year-old, who lives on a narrowboat with his 14-year-old son, said life on the water held many attractions.
"I got divorced and so bought the boat to live on for a while before selling it and buying a house, but I have been there three years now and love it.
"When people get on the towpath they change, they are more relaxed."
If that wasn't attraction enough, Mr Harvey believes there are health benefits to living on the water, too.
"My son had asthma, but since he has been living with me on the boat he hasn't had to use his inhaler once," he said.