A yurt? Who lives in a YURT?!
I remember the moment it transpired that we were going to live in a yurt for a few months. We were absolutely in love with the strangeness of yurt homes in non-Mongolian settings. My first blog post about it was entitled “We Live In a Mongolian Tent Now” – incredulous, glad, incredulous.
18 months later and we not only still live in one, but we own two! A little NZ made one, 6 metres, by Jaia Yurts and one a third larger, by Pacific Yurts, imported from the States.
And we think yurt-living is the business.
This is me in our yurt, writing a post about living in yurts. 2016 aye?
What are these yurt homes you speak of?
People all over the world are making themselves at home in a modern take on the traditional Mongolian structure used for their housing. Translated “yurt” means “home.”
People have called our yurt a spaceship, a giant mushroom, a giant’s diaphragm. Indeed, it looks like all of these.
But mostly these days it is just our home and we love it.
Why are people choosing yurt homes?
We enjoyed living in someone elses yurt for a few months. But when we bought our new land we had the opportunity to get the home we have always wanted.
We were looking at moving on a beautiful old wooden cottage, or building from scratch- something like a cob house or an earthship. But the more we did costings, looked at our situation and sat and thunked, we realized that we wanted to keep living in yurts.
Yurt Homes are Affordable
We found our big yurt online, already imported from the States, never erected or even unpacked, but quite discounted because, hello, who wants a tent this big?!
We got it for $35000 (£17000) but full price it would have been $45k NZD. This includes almost everything you need, including double glazed glass windows, French doors and a back door and extra wind support and insulation. The floor comes at extra cost – another 6k.
Still, for a home with almost the same footprint as our little South London Victorian terrace, this is a real steal. A whole $500,000 less!!
(That figure isn’t actually accurate because our London home came with the land it sat on, and a little teeny weeny garden too.)
But you can buy a bare patch of land and stick a yurt on it for probably about a quarter of what it might cost to buy a house and a garden.
Of course, it isn’t a bargain if it feels like you are just living in a big tent, is it? And this is where the second reason we decided on a yurt comes in.
Yurt Homes are Beautiful
Yurts are beautiful! They feel almost sacred with their circular ways. The sun pours in through the canvas and the dome in the roof. They feel so perfectly nestled amongst the natural environment and they are easy to keep bright and airy.
Our big yurt comes with a 15 year guarantee, but they’ve been in production for 25 years and no one has ever claimed on one. They really are built to be strong and beautiful for a good long time!
Yurt Homes are Mobile
Yeah, yeah, in NZ, most homes are counted as mobile. No jokes, at least a few times a year you will be driving down the motorway and you will see a WHOLE HOUSE on the back of a trailer. We’ve also seen a whole house in bits on the side of a road where it slipped off the trailer, which was a bummer for someone.
But anyway, in most parts of the world homes aren’t made for moving. Which is why yurts are so great because they can come and go with you.
So if you are not ready to buy land, you can put a yurt up on someone elses. You could even do it formally, by asking permission. I jest, you should pretty much always ask permission to put a yurt up on someone’s land to live there. Exceptions for if the land is owned by a conglomerate (I always want to call them clongoberates) and they are leaving it derelict until land prices rise. SQUAT THAT BUGGER! In seven years it is yours and you can share it with all the people that need a place to put their yurt!
(Yikes, how quickly I descend into anarchic housing strategies these days.)
Yeah, so yurts are a great option if you are looking at homesteading or self sufficient living but aren’t going to be owning the land you are doing it on.
We did it for 15 months – a sort of WOOFING arrangement, swapping garden labour etc for a patch of land with our yurt on it- while we were looking for the land we ended up buying.
Yurt Homes are low impact
Compared to traditional housing yurt homes are immensely low impact with the materials used. They are often built using 100% natural materials – tough cotton, wool for insulation and wooden lattice or beams. Our big yurt does used human made materials – a polyester cover instead of cotton canvas and a space agey tin foil instead of wool for insulation. But even with shipping it to NZ from the US, compared to the intense labour and complex production modern housing involves, yurts are super low impact.
Yurt Homes are Quick
And our last reason is to do with how quickly we can get up our yurt compared to building something ourselves. Our little yurt goes up in about an hour – once you have the floor down, and with a nice bunch of buddies. See my brand new video of us putting up our little yurt last weekend:
And even our big, far more house-like yurt, goes up in a day. If you missed that here is a slideshow of that one going up. Double glazed windows and all.
This is compared to about a minimum 6 months for a self build home, with a lot of help, and busting a gut each day.
We didn’t give up our jobs in order to slave away on a self build. These are the moments we want to free up time to spend with our girls, whilst they are so young, whilst we see their childhood running through our fingers like sand. It would be crazy to have sacked in our seriouspants careers in London and replace it with building a seriouspants house on the other side of the world.
What do you reckon? Could your family live in one of these yurt homes?