Woman living as a nomad in a homemade yurt is ‘happier than ever’

Briar made the move seven years ago (Picture: PA Real Life)

Mum-of-three Briar Miller decided to move out of her £400-a-month two-bed rented flat seven years ago – after struggling financially and dealing with sizeable credit card debts.

When her last child left home in 2015, she decided to swap tenant life for a nomadic lifestyle.

Now, she moves around the Welsh countryside every six months in a homemade pop-up yurt.

The 55-year-old works as a horse groomer and part-time gardener and assembles her yurt – using wooden poles and canvas – wherever her travels take her.

To survive, she lives off rainwater, burns wood and uses a compost toilet.

Briar says: ‘I am the happiest I have ever been. I feel at peace with who I am. I absolutely love it.

‘I want to carry on living like this for as long as I can.

‘The thought of having to live within walls is horrible. I feel really claustrophobic and stressed thinking of it.’

‘I am the happiest I have ever been’ (Picture: PA Real Life)
Inside her yurt (Picture: PA Real Life)
She now doesn’t pay rent or bills (Picture: PA Real Life)

Briar says her £10,000 credit card debt, which crept up when she had to stop working for personal reasons, prompted her to abandon ‘modern living.’

And the 55-year-old is relieved how much money she’s now saving on rent and household bills – especially with the current cost of living crisis.

Briar adds: ‘With the current energy crisis, I understand how families are feeling when they are stripped of choices.

‘I feel very lucky because I have been able to live this niche lifestyle and avoid this energy crisis, which is unbelievably difficult for so many.

‘When I first moved into a yurt, it was a really tough time for me. While I was excited to be back in nature, I was struggling mightily with everything else.’

Her aim is to become more self-sufficient (Picture: PA Real Life)
She moves around every six months or so (Picture: PA Real Life)
She uses rainwater and wood to burn to survive (Picture: PA Real Life)

Now, Briar moves every six months and her yurts are always fully equipped with a stove, a sofa (which converts into a bed) and colourful velvet curtains.

To assemble each one, Briar has to lay down the foundations – a platform made of wood – then uses 90 wooden poles tied together with string, three layers of canvas, 15 duvets and then a dozen rugs for flooring.

She explains: ‘My yurt has lots of insulation, many rugs, and furniture.

‘You need to pick a nice sunny day to move, and it takes two or three days.

‘I can take it down and carry everything over and just put the canvas on in a day, but to move everything else takes a bit longer.

‘I have to construct a platform each time to build it on, so I will pile on wooden pallets. I usually move a maximum of an hour away, just because I still have to work.’

She then uses a 240 watt solar panel and a leisure battery for power, which allows her to charge her phone.

In the process of being built (Picture: PA Real Life)
The compost toilet (Picture: PA Real Life)
‘This is the life’ (Picture: PA Real Life)

But this isn’t the first time Briar has lived off-grid. In fact, she raised her children in an abandoned cottage without heating or electricity in Oxfordshire.

 ‘We lived in a cottage in Oxfordshire in a field with no electricity in the middle of nowhere,’ she continues.

‘My children grew up there and I lived there for 20 years. We were pretty self-sufficient and I absolutely loved it.

‘At the time I think my children loved it. They loved being in the countryside. You get a deep appreciation of nature. And you just learn how to survive with what you have.’

Her current yurt (Picture: PA Real Life)
Briar with her cat (Picture: PA Real Life)

Briar’s grown-up children now only live around 15 minutes away – so come and visit her often.

And following the success of her current set-up, the mum-of-three plans to continue living as a nomad for the foreseeable future.

She adds: ‘I feel like in the last seven years I have really learned more and more and pushed the boundaries of my resilience.

‘I hope to retire by 60 and continue living in the yurt. I want to learn how to make baskets and become more and more self-sufficient.

‘I want to grow more of my own food, all kinds of lovely vegetables.

‘This is the life.’

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