Coming Out As A Hermit: A prelude to some posts about “Yurt Living”

As some of you may know, I live in a Yurt. Actually, it’s a 12 ft Ger, but no-one knows what a “Ger” is, so I tell people it’s a Yurt (they are both quite similar, wood framed, canvas dwellings).

It’s got two sheepskin rugs, and a woodburner. I’m still using the candles I got from the car boot sale as my only source of lighting. It’s so damp that my stuff goes moldy and I have to keep anything electrical and most of my instruments in the main house to stop them from perishing. I’ve got a 5litre water bottle and a camping stove. The temperature drops to between 6-8 degrees C at night, but that’s ok because, as I mentioned before, I have two sheepskin rugs. Fortunately I’m also addicted to knitting so ROLL ON WINTER!

A few weeks before I moved in (in August) I had posted an advert on Facebook looking for somewhere to pitch my yurt. It was called “Ever Wanted Your Own Hermit?”. Some very wonderful people answered the ad, and so here I am under canvas.  Straight after I found my pitch, you may have noticed that I deleted the advert, and all references to the Yurt. Why? Well… at first I didn’t want there to be any evidence of my Yurt dwelling online.

“Why not?!?!” you ask. “After all, everyone seems very interested and is always asking about your alternative way of life, wanting to visit the new yurt, see pictures etc. Why don’t you post in your weblog about it?”

Well, there were a few reasons I’ve held fire:

Firstly, although my yurt-dwelling is legal, the way I’m doing it (I’ve checked extensively), I do worry that I might get grief about it anyway, or that the laws might change, so I haven’t wanted to publish my lifestyle on the internet.

Secondly, I’d worry about security, so for that reason I’m not going to give my specific location. Let’s just say I’m somewhere in the Exeter area.

I have thought long and hard about whether or not to write about my Yurt dwelling on this weblog and finally, I’ve decided: YES.

I have changed my mind for one very important reason: I never would have been able to realise my dream of living in a yurt if it weren’t for OTHER PEOPLE’S WEBLOGS.

Reading the writings of those who are living alternative lifestyles has been invaluable research for me on my quest, and I’d like to give something back by writing about my way of life.

In the past year, on my path to a more basic form of transport and a more basic form of living, I’ve read, re-read and learned so much from the following people’s words:

Another reason I was apprehensive about Yurt-posting is that this was meant to be a Cycleblog, not a Yurtblog. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that this doesn’t really matter. For me, the simplicity of Fixed Gear Cycling fits perfectly with the ethos of simple off-grid yurt living. My cycling journey has certainly led me to this place, so actually it IS relevant after all.

Perhaps I should change the name of it to “Zen and the Art of Fixed Gear” or something, to convey my lifestyle commitment to using no more than you need.

Do you need more gears on your bike?

Do you need a house and a mortgage?

These are important questions for me, because in my experience, having anything I don’t need just gets in the way of living, loving and happiness. I firmly believe that too many people worry about lack, when they should be worrying about excess. I think the Dali Lama says some sort of relevant thing in a book I’ve got, but I can’t find it right now.

Anyway, more coming on the Yurt soon, including pictures and inside tips.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Coming Out As A Hermit: A prelude to some posts about “Yurt Living”

  1. Tracey Scott

    Hi i’m glad to see its not just me and my partner that are turning to easy living? at present we live in a caravan but spend most of our time in the awning as its warmer, we got extra poles and then down to B&Q for loft insulation so now its all spaced out in silver but wow it stays toasty warm,
    soon we’ll be buying a piece of land and then setting up 3 Yurts 1 as the bathroom 1 as main kitchen and lounge and the 3rd as a bedroom, Could you tell me how your getting on with keeping it warm? i’ll be putting a log burner into each Yurt, but the lounge will have a log stove to cook on, i’m also looking into ways of doing a caravan shower as we will be living off grid totally, so collecting all the rain water we can and looking how to recycle gray water for showers, as the toilet will be a dry composting toilet, we’ve found an amazing site in Wisbech for the solar power that puts big companies to shame, Is there any advise you can give us before we start our new life?

    • Hi there,

      Really glad to hear from you. Your plan sounds really exciting. In terms of advice, in many ways I’m not the person to ask, since my attempts to live in a yurt lasted roughly 5 months, with access to a kitchen and bathroom, and since I mainly failed to keep it warm. Currently my yurt is pitched in the garden of a house I rent a room in, and is more an extension of the house itself than it is a full time dwelling.

      None the less, just a few months in a yurt showed me that if you’d like to live there all year round, a liner of some sort is very important. I lined my yurt with rugs, and only did the walls but not the roof. The result was, that even with the woodburner full of burning hardwood, it was only possible to get the inside temperature up to about 6 or 7 degrees C in the dead of winter – not warm enough for me! I don’t think the woodburner was too small though, because in the autumn it could easily raise the temperature to over 30 degrees C if desired. So, it must have been the lack of insulation that was causing the problems, in winter.

      Regarding the 3 yurts, it sounds great, but I was wondering if they would be linked or totally seperate? Putting a woodburner in each one sounds good, but keeping 2-3 woodburners going sounds tough. I guess another option would be to get a big yurt with dividers in it… although that’s less private. However, I’d think of having 1 big yurt as more practical. I can only imagine spending a nice winter evening in the lounge yurt in December with the woodburner toasting nicely, only to have to move to the bedroom yurt and light another fire and wait for the space to warm up before going to sleep.

      The other thing I noticed was that it gets very damp in yurts. When it rained frequently the humidity sensor I had often read 100% (Sometimes it even read: Are you kidding me? It’s raining in here!). Although I was lucky and had hardly any leaks, stopping things from going moldy was tricky when it was that damp, and the only thing that lifted the damp was keeping the wood burner going often, and at least every day. Things are better now I’ve got the yurt on a platform, but a few days of rain will still make it damp inside. If you’re using your bedroom yurt only to sleep in it may not have the fire going in it often enough to keep it dry. I always found that the clothes in my wardrobe were damp or even wet in the mornings when I got dressed, even though the fire had been on during the night. I can only imagine your clothes and bedding getting damp if the fire was dead during the day.

      Hope this helps, and don’t hesitate to ask more questions. This forum is pretty good, although a lot of the information is about the U.S http://www.off-grid.net/

      FullTimeFixie

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for posting about this. I’m also in the UK and interested in doing something similar. When you say that what you were doing is legal – do you mean that it was legal because you had the yurt pitched in the garden of a house? Or did you find a way to legally live in the yurt full time on a plot of land without a house?

    Many thanks

    • Thanks for your interest. Being pitched in someone’s garden made it legal. I can’t remember the inns and outs of it, but it may have been that it’s illegal to live in your garden, but since my yurt didn’t have it’s own facilities – toilet, plumbing, electric etc, it wasn’t legally considered to be a dwelling. What are your plans (PM if needed)?

      • Thanks for getting back to me. Yes, maybe finding some place with separate facilities is the best way to go. Not sure on the area yet as it is dependent on where I get a job – hopefully somewhere semi-rural.

        I’m planning on asking local farmers whether they’d let me rent a space to live in a bell tent on their land longterm. Not strictly legal but there’s more space to hide on a farm and can be taken down and moved relatively easily if necessary. A yurt would be awesome one day.

        Not too bothered about access to power (although it would be nice) – but will obviously need some access to water/toilets. Maybe I can negotiate a lowish rate at a secluded campsite. I know there’s limits on how long you can stay but a bell tent wouldn’t be too hard to move around.

        Did you just post of facebook? Or did you try other ways to find a place too?

        Many thanks

      • Hi there. Interesting. What is it that motivates you to look for this lifestyle? Is it sky high rent, or wanting to live closer to nature, or some other motivation?

        I believe lots of people have good luck with pitching on farm land. I know someone who’s lived in the same farmer’s field for 20 years in a caravan. Campsites, in some ways may not be worth it, since I always feels like the facilities you get for the money aren’t much. Security maybe.. That’s a big thing.

        I am trying to find a way to post my original advert so you can see it. I posted on facebook, gumtree and all around town. The responses I got were through word of mouth and online.

      • Sorry for the slow reply.

        What motivates me is a combination of having had to live in London for the past 5 years, when I’d rather be way outside the m25, and not wanting to waste time/money renting/getting a mortgage. I might, at some point, build a tiny house (like http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Small_house_movement) but that’s obviously going to involve the same problems as living in a mobile home in the uk (i.e. not legal unless in a mobile home park).

        Thank you – that would be good to see how you phrased your ad.

      • Yes, I have to confess that my initial dream too was to get a tiny house. I would love to build one. I’ve been researching it for years and I’m just waiting for someone to say “ok, build me one”.

        Living in London with rent’s sky high is a good motivation for wanting to live differently. I think few people would tolerate the current housing market if they could find an alternative that they were comfortable with. Good luck, and keep in touch to let me know how you’re progressing. I’ve recently found some old posts about yurt living on my phone backup. Back then I would end up writing posts and never posting them because I had such limited internet access, but I could always post these and notify you, if my experience helped in any way inform what you’re about to do.

        If I could settle on a location that I wanted to live, I’d probably be building a tiny house myself. What I loved about the yurt was that although it took 3 people and 2 days each time I wanted to move it… it was possible to move it with just an estate car or van. It was also possible to store it in an ordinary house loft, even though I never had to do that myself.

        Namaste to you.

  3. Haha – I’ve just notice that you mentioned Jay Shafer’s Tumbleweed tiny house above.

  4. Thank you for sending your ad. It is beautiful. It kind of makes me want my own hermit.

    I will report back on how it goes! Longer term I’m thinking about moving to Portugal as they are much more receptive to yurts and (i would imagine) tiny houses.

    Take care

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