yurt life

Yurt Homes – five reasons to live in one

21 July, 2016

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.The Ultimate Guide to Living in Yurt Homes
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.5 reasons we have chosen to live in yurt homes

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- why we love it

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.
5 reasons to live in yurt homes
What do you reckon? Could your family live in one of these yurt homes?

Pssst – have you downloaded my most recent bestselling book? It’s designed to help you and your family fall in love with nature. Find it on Amazon or my own estore.

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More from me on yurts:
Living in a Yurt – in the winter
Building a yurt
Inside our yurt house
Yurt living – winning and losing

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  • Jacki May 21 July, 2016 at 6:34 pm

    Oh my goodness. We have been in the process of saving for our yurt! We still have a few years of a contract left which gives us plenty of time to save everything. LOVE them. Before we moved to Belgium we lived in a yurt, a 20 footer with 6 of us…and knew it was meant to be.

    • Lucy 21 July, 2016 at 6:53 pm

      Oh so awesome to hear from you! We tend to love other yurt lovers hehehehe. I do think that once you’ve lived in one you begin to really get it and not be able to shake it 😀

  • Madeleine 21 July, 2016 at 7:40 pm

    I am looking for a cottage but with the prices nowadays when germans buy every single swedish cottage I actually started to think in yurt terms. Will see if I can find one soon.

    • Lucy 21 July, 2016 at 7:40 pm

      How exciting – keep in touch about it 🙂

  • Laurenne 21 July, 2016 at 7:55 pm

    Ahhhhhhh I love yurts so much. Love seeing photos of yours, so dreamy!

    When we get the new place we are going to save up and get one for people to come and stay with us!

    We thought the same with building, we have ended up buying land with an old fashioned (it’s like preserved in time from the 30s I love it!) little semi on it because as much as I love the idea of self building a cob house, with 3 little ones I think it would have been too much and taken too much of our time from them.

    I’d love to hear more of your plans for your land too if you ever want to blog about it, what are you going for? Do you plan on living drom the land / selling any produce or just trying to be as self sufficient as possible? Have spent the best part of the last month spending my evenings planning veg beds, kids playgrounds and permaculture food forests so always touting for inspo! L x

    • Lucy 22 July, 2016 at 10:01 am

      Hey Laurenne – yeah building is SO EXPENSIVE! Love your little place though – so awesome!
      Re our land – we are taking it pretty slow but intend to be as self sufficient as possible, and find a means of making money from land in a sustainable way – perfecting a really good crop, perhaps, or focusing on accommodation… still thinking about all the options really 😀 Keen to do some No Dig beds, so might have to pcik your brain about that soon 😀

  • Esther 22 July, 2016 at 6:46 am

    We are doing exactly that! We’ll move back to NZ from the UK in the next few years, to buy land & live in a yurt or two! I can’t wait.

    Is there a vast difference in the quality of the Jaia & Pacific? Both of these are on our radar.

    • Lucy 22 July, 2016 at 10:06 am

      Hi Esther…. the biggest difference is in the sizing – Jaia only go up to 7m.
      While Pacific comes with double glazing and Jaia only fabric, plastic windows, I actually think Jaia is better quality in some ways – the insulation works far, far better. For an inbetweeen, I would consider getting a Jaia yurt without windows and then cutting out windows and added my own, proper glass windows into it. Sounds crazy but that is all the Pacific windows are. (Although it would still be on the smallish size)

  • Edith 22 July, 2016 at 7:47 am

    This is great! We’ve been thinking about purchasing a yurt along with land…I’m curious about power though.. do you use a generator or liberate from someone else? Do you have a washing machine inside? My kids are mostly naked, but, they’re still kids and alas, laundry is constant.

    • Lucy 22 July, 2016 at 8:57 am

      Hi Edith! We are on solar power and our washing machine is outside. Some days we don’t have enough power to run it but we are used to that 🙂 exciting for you! Hope everything falls into place 🙂

  • Maria 22 July, 2016 at 8:09 am

    How warm are they when the weather is cold?

  • Thomas Schickedanz 25 July, 2016 at 10:47 am

    Awesome! We should get one.

    • Lucy 8 September, 2016 at 10:20 am

      Totally 😀

  • Esther Nagle 21 August, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    Oh, I would love to live in a Yurt! My son did for a while, it was the coolest thing!

    • Lucy 8 September, 2016 at 10:20 am


  • Helly 14 September, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    Well crap on a cracker…. I am officially yearning for a yurt. My whole life I’ve dreamed of a self build of some kind (probably due to my parents designing and building both our awesome houses while growing up) but I’ve married a man who has zero confidence that he could pull off any kind of build even with help! Surely even he would see that this is the kind of building we could attain together! Ohhh……… To have our own space, cozy and sweet and simple (but maybe with an inside dunny, he he)

    • Lucy 17 September, 2016 at 10:58 am

      Ah yeah, yurts could be right up your alley! Building skills needed to put down foundations and the floor but after that, the little one requires no skills! The big one involves sawing holes in the trellis for the windows so can be a little freaky!!

  • Making the break | Site Title 15 September, 2016 at 8:40 am

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  • Kate Long 1 December, 2016 at 9:43 pm

    Hi Lucy,
    Can I ask the mold question?! Have either yurts got outside mold from all the rain and not drying properly?

    • Lucy 2 December, 2016 at 9:21 am

      Hi Kate! Our little NZ made yurt is made of natural canvas and it has mold spores on the outside after one year. The company say it is normal for NZ as there is mould in the air at all times? but I think it looks gross and WISH it didn’t have it.
      Our big american yurt has a plasticy poly canvas and has no mould and I would, if choosing again, go for a non natural fibre in order to avoid mould.

  • Kate Long 2 December, 2016 at 9:47 am

    Hi Lucy, thanks for your response. We also have the same nz made yurt and after 10 months it has mold spores too and I agree does not look the best! I am baffled as I would have thought it wouldn’t have happened so quickly! Interesting to note about the Pacific yurt canvas- I am jealous as I wanted one of those! Love reading your musings on life- thank you for making it happen 🙂

    • Lucy 3 December, 2016 at 9:18 am

      Yeah. Those spores really get me down! They look so bad even though Jaia says to not worry about it 🙁 🙁 🙁