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A couple say their mortgage-free, low-cost tiny home has allowed them to take risks. part-time

Tiny homes: No mortgage, low bills and big dreams

"We didn't want to spend the rest of our lives beholden to a mortgage."

That was the motivation for Tom Morgan and his partner Amie Simons when they recently moved to Wales to start a business while living off-grid in a "tiny home".

The couple say one perk of their 6.5m x 2.5m (21ft x 8ft) home near Cardiff is that their outgoings are tiny too.

"It's given us kind of a bit of breathing space financially," added Tom.

While most households face a difficult time managing energy bills and rising mortgage payments, the couple say they will be able to take a financial risk and start a forest school.

Together they built the house for about £18,000, spending another £8,000 on setting up their solar energy system and a final £4,000 on yard space, moving the home across country and siting it here.

"We've basically built this for the price that most people would put down on a deposit for a house," said Tom.

The couple, who document their journey on Instagram, don't have typical monthly energy bills, instead spending about £200-£300 per year on gas to run their cooker and heat water, and about £100 a month to rent the space.

They plan to heat the house in the winter using a log burner, but said cooking in the evening seems to be enough to keep the well-insulated, small space warm.

Only a few hundred people are estimated to be living in so-called tiny homes across the UK.

The movement is significantly larger abroad, with 10,000 people believed to have been living this way in the US in the last few years.

Tom and Amie, who've left jobs in the charity sector, said the decision to build their own small home and start a new life was a necessity, both financially and environmentally.

Amie, a freelance writer, admitted she had to let go of more stuff than Tom.

"A lot of people ask, in a tiny house, where do you put all your clothes? We had to get rid of a lot of things," she said.

"There's no wasted space in here - every bit of space is used," Tom added.

The couple said it was important that they didn't have to crawl into bed at night, so upstairs there's room to stand and hidden storage for clothes in each step.

"Someone described it as feeling like a Mary Poppins bag, where you walk in and you just keep finding a little bit more of something," Amie said.

In the UK, a towable tiny home must be no larger than 2.55m (8ft 3in) wide to be road legal, and 7m (22ft 9in) in length on a standard car licence.

The pair bought the trailer last August and have spent their time off designing, building and furnishing it.

"We've had to save money wherever we could, so a lot of foraging in skips and scouring freecycle for hours on end looking for free wood," said Amie.

"The windows, for example, were pulled from a skip."

The couple only arrived in south Wales recently, and while their initial welcome was warm, the Welsh weather soon kicked in.

"We arrived, it was sunny and the next day it rained for a week, we were sort of stuck in," said Amie.

"That's another great thing, we can use the rainwater sometimes, to wash and do the washing-up. There's a plus to every minus," Tom added.

The home is off-grid and has enough gas to run their fridge, solar panels, a wood burner and a plant-based water filtration system.

"We can pick this up and we've only benefitted the land with our use of water system and a compost toilet," Tom said.

The only thing they believe they are missing is a washing machine and, while the nearby launderette works for now, they are looking at options.

"I do have plans to build a bicycle-powered washing machine, I found plans on the internet," Tom said.

Living sustainably and being kind to nature is important to the pair, who work as wellbeing coaches, but now have plans to open a forest school.

"This basically came off the back of us deciding what was important in our life and those values consisted of giving time to nature, prioritising the environment and giving time to the things we love," added the 34-year-old.

The couple admitted it's best to have a "pretty robust relationship" if you're living together in a small space.

Sitting on the steps to their tiny home, Amie said she doesn't want to idealise this way of life, admitting it can be challenging, they just want to write their own narrative.

"This is what will be considered alternative, when actually it makes more sense than the current one," she added.

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