Yurt Living - Mothering Forums

Yurt Living

yurtmama's Avatar yurtmama (TS)
11:46 PM Liked: 11
#1 of 61
02-27-2010 | Posts: 4
Joined: Feb 2010
I am new to this forum and was hoping to connect with others living a similar lifestyle. My husband and I and our 4 kids (ages 8-15) live in two 30 foot, off-grid yurts in Eastern Ontario on 25 acres in the beautiful Canadian Shield. We are enjoying our adventure of life off the beaten path, and it has so far been a great life experience for all of us. We have a Facebook page called 'Gypsy House' which has photos of our yurt, for anyone who might be interested in checking it out. I was hoping to find other families living in yurts in Canada or abroad to share stories and experiences. Looking forward to chatting!
accountclosed3's Avatar accountclosed3
12:34 AM Liked: 120
#2 of 61
02-28-2010 | Posts: 11,594
Joined: Jun 2006
this is awesome. i don't live in a yurt, but i love the idea of it and have thought of it many times. i don't think it's for us, but i do think it is amazing. thanks for sharing your link to facebook, because i love to see pictures of yurt living!
flapjill's Avatar flapjill
12:58 AM Liked: 0
#3 of 61
02-28-2010 | Posts: 20
Joined: Feb 2010
I'm interested to learn more about yurts, because my dh is really into the thought of moving to one when our kids are out of the nest. Look forward to lurking! :0)
Goddess3_2005's Avatar Goddess3_2005
01:41 PM Liked: 33
#4 of 61
02-28-2010 | Posts: 2,328
Joined: Oct 2004
WE have been considering doing this for years. We have 6 kids and have wondered how to do it with that many kids. I would love to hear more.
kimmom's Avatar kimmom
02:12 PM Liked: 14
#5 of 61
02-28-2010 | Posts: 465
Joined: Sep 2006
I am going to look up you pictures now
We are in a small space with our 4 and sometimes 5 (step dd) children. We are building a cob home this spring and summer and are still not going too big! I love yurts, they are beautiful!!
ferndoula's Avatar ferndoula
04:22 PM Liked: 0
#6 of 61
02-28-2010 | Posts: 25
Joined: Feb 2010
Oh my, just looked at your facebook page! wow wow wow! that is just so great! My family is definately considering this option for us someday. so inspiring to see others who are doing it. thanks.
by-the-lake's Avatar by-the-lake
10:22 PM Liked: 18
#7 of 61
03-01-2010 | Posts: 1,134
Joined: Jul 2008
Our house is for sale because we are going to build a and live in a 30 ft Pacific Yurt! We have been planning this for years.
yurtmama's Avatar yurtmama (TS)
12:46 PM Liked: 11
#8 of 61
03-03-2010 | Posts: 4
Joined: Feb 2010
It's so nice to hear from so many other people interested in yurts, most people when I tell them where we live, look at me like I have 2 heads! We have two 30 foot Pacific Yurts connected by a 20 foot breezeway/hallway which serves as the entryway, laundry/utilitly area. The main yurt has the master bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, living room area and the second yurt is the kids' side. It has three bedrooms (my youngest 2 share a room) and a small storage room. We are hoping to put a loft over as well. There are lots of things we still need to finish, this year's main project being a deck, and landscaping, as well as focusing on the vegetable garden (my project) It's definately not for everyone, but we are enjoying the adventure, and I think it's a great life experience for the kids to have. Have to go for now, would love to talk more later.
limette's Avatar limette
03:50 PM Liked: 30
#9 of 61
03-03-2010 | Posts: 2,424
Joined: Feb 2008
How cold does it get where you are?
I Fly's Avatar I Fly
05:40 PM Liked: 11
#10 of 61
03-03-2010 | Posts: 363
Joined: Jul 2002
We thought about living in a yurt while we built a house on our land, but the plans derailed as we looked into the building codes. But, one year later, with our house barely started, we are miserable in the dumpy single-wide trailer we rented nearby. Now, we are thinking about spending May - Sept/Oct in a Colorado Yurt Co. tent. I don't know if it would save any money in the long run, but it sure seems adventurous to us -- and a way to be on the land (this time we wouldn't talk to the building inspector first!), get some work done in our fields/gardens, have all of us outside more, and to simplify - again! Plus, we'd really get to work on our summer kitchen, composting toilet, and outdoor shower that we already want to do anyway.

It seems so crazy to go live in a tent, but I actually think we will love it - especially compared to how we are living now. Just thought I'd share - it seemed a little related.
yurtmama's Avatar yurtmama (TS)
09:42 PM Liked: 11
#11 of 61
03-14-2010 | Posts: 4
Joined: Feb 2010
Hi Limette, as far as temperature, it gets as cold as -25 or -30 (C) in January, February..brrr! The woodstove keeps it pretty cosy, although there were a few times it was working hard to keep up.

Ifly, I am sorry to hear of your predicament, I would say, if you are not happy living in the trailer, then go for the yurt, it's not crazy, it's just not convential like everyone is programmed to think..lol. We didn't have much trouble with building codes here, our township was excited of the prospect of a yurt in their district. I agree, don't mention it if you think it will be a problem, I always say it's better to ask for forgiveness, then beg for permission. We stayed in our travel trailer on our property (cramped with 4 kids!) for 2 months while we set up the yurts. It will be an adventure for you and your family, life is short my friend. Hope everything works out for you, keep me posted.
sparkygirl74's Avatar sparkygirl74
09:49 PM Liked: 5
#12 of 61
03-14-2010 | Posts: 386
Joined: May 2005
We have recently decided that yurt living might be in our future. We are currently living in a house on 20 acres in Western New York, but we have a pretty big mortgage on it and have decided that we want to do something different. We are going to try to move west and rent for awhile until we have enough saved to buy some land (or at least a good down payment) and put some yurts up to live in while we build an off grid house. We have done hut trips in CO to yurts and they were always nice and warm in the winter!

Yurt Mama, Your pictures are inspirational! Did you buy your yurt new or used?
yurtmama's Avatar yurtmama (TS)
10:27 PM Liked: 11
#13 of 61
03-21-2010 | Posts: 4
Joined: Feb 2010

We bought our yurts new from Pacific Yurts, they have a pretty good information package, with floor plans that they will send you if you contact them. I have occasionally seen used yurts for sale on their site as well. I was speaking to Becky Kemery ( author of 'Living in the Round') for an interview the other day, she actually featured a family in her book that did just that, they lived in a yurt while building a house. She told me that she cautions people when they decide to do this, as they just might fall in love with living in the yurt and skip the house idea altogether..lol. We decided to go with yurts because we too had a mortgage that we didn't want to spend the rest of our lives paying off. We wanted a unique life experience as well, life's too short so why not do something interesting! Yurts are an a good economical, earth friendly option for off grid living as well. I wish you good luck finding your piece of land and enjoy your adventure. Thanks for the compliments as well.
DirtRoadMama's Avatar DirtRoadMama
01:23 PM Liked: 12
#14 of 61
03-22-2010 | Posts: 206
Joined: Mar 2010
I'm really hoping you yurt dwellers keep this thread going! I considered a yurt compound when I was looking for land. I ended up going with an old farmhouse, but I loved the yurt idea! I had sketches of my ideal set-up... it was four yurts, set in a square with one yurt in each corner, and a breezeway attaching each corner, and finally, with a private porch coming off the exterior of each yurt. Then, the interior courtyard could be used for at least 3 seasons for the family relaxation space, and the bedrooms would have their own porches for hanging out, with two family porches for meals or visiting.

Oh, the things they can do with the yurts! They are so pretty, and it's amazing how much they can insulate them to make them practical for nearly any climate!

I'm excited to read what everyone is doing!
Aubergine68's Avatar Aubergine68
05:48 PM Liked: 17
#15 of 61
03-23-2010 | Posts: 2,882
Joined: Jan 2008
That four-yurt idea sounds really lovely, actually!

I've been bitten by the yurt bug, too.... I have this theory that sooner or later everyone on MDC is.

We are likely moving to a rural area where dh is working now, sometime in 2011, probably. The final decision depends on many factors and we'll be pinning it down this summer.

We're in Canada also, looking to move to a location about 53 degrees north latitude, so can get pretty chilly in winter. -30 C is not uncommon, -40 happens at least once, most winters.

What got me thinking about yurts is looking at rural and very-small-town properties with tiny old farmhouses, like 600 square feet, which I would consider too small for a family of 2 adults and 3 soon-to-be-teens. However, these properties are much better priced than the ones with bigger homes. I have been thinking of looking at properties where the farmhouse could be used mostly as a cookhouse/bathhouse/laundry house and a yurt or two with connections could be put up as an extension, to provide bedroom, living room, and office space.

I, too, am attracted to the idea of living in a really interesting home. The standard cheap and easy housing options out here are mobile homes and RV trailers, which can actually be really comfortable, but which sure do not have the beauty, fun factor and even the mysticism that a yurt seems to have.
The Amber Lily's Avatar The Amber Lily
08:24 PM Liked: 6
#16 of 61
03-23-2010 | Posts: 74
Joined: Mar 2010
Thanks for sharing; my husband and I are in BC, and it has crossed our minds repeatedly to live in a yurt.
Yurtlady's Avatar Yurtlady
03:30 AM Liked: 15
#17 of 61
03-24-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Mar 2010
Here are a few comments from the sidelines:

IFly, I would encourage your cabin tent idea. Colorado Yurt Co. has great designs, loved the tent I looked at, and they can be very liveable. My brother and his family (3 kids, homeschooled) lived in cabin tents 6 mos. of the year while he was working in the woods. I spent two weeks working with him once and the tent was cozy and liveable.

Aubergine 68, I think your small farmhouse and yurts idea is brilliant. The farmhouse supplies a lot of amenities, so your time isn't taken building all of those into yurts, and the yurts provide privacy in the form of seperate bedroom areas, esp. important with teens. You can hear everything going on inside a yurt, so it's really not fair to expect teens to share a single yurt with their parents (parents have told me it just doesn't work). Here are a couple of other advantages:
  • because the yurts are considered temporary or portable, they won't add to your land value (read taxes) when the assessor comes around
  • with your farmhouse listed as your "primary residence" most insurance companies should be able to insure your yurts as add-ons where they normally wouldn't insure a yurt as a primary residence.

You're all invited to visit www.yurtinfo.org and use the resources available there, including a Classifieds for used yurts (do check out Craig's List as well). I'd also encourage all of you to spend some time on Yurtmama's Gypsy House facebook page--it contains a wealth of practical information along with the great photos.

Wishing each of you the very best on your yurt/cob/tent journeys. May you each find the ideal shelter combination for your family!

becky kemery
author of "YURTS: Living in the Round"
Yurtlady on Facebook
DirtRoadMama's Avatar DirtRoadMama
12:28 PM Liked: 12
#18 of 61
03-24-2010 | Posts: 206
Joined: Mar 2010
Hey, cool, we attracted an expert! How awesome is that?
Aubergine68's Avatar Aubergine68
07:20 PM Liked: 17
#19 of 61
03-25-2010 | Posts: 2,882
Joined: Jan 2008
Well, welcome to MDC, yurtlady/Ms. Kemery!

Thanks so much for your encouraging comments!

We have made plans to visit the nearest YURTCO dealer on our vacation this summer to figure out more about what we want.

What I'd really love to know: What is the truth about mice in yurts? And what is life like living with a compostable toilet?
phoebemommy's Avatar phoebemommy
07:42 PM Liked: 12
#20 of 61
03-26-2010 | Posts: 973
Joined: Mar 2006
Hi yurtlady!

We were thinking about a yurt as an option, but moved toward cob when we read accounts of people finding a lot of mold growing in the yurt walls (not sure exactly where, what kind of insulation, etc.). We'll be in Oregon, which is wet and mold-prone. But a yurt would be much more straightfoward than cob! Have you run into any problems like this?

In general, I'd love to hear any down sides to yurt living, if you've got any! I'm trying to ask real people living in real yurts/cob/etc. about their real experience as we're exploring this. Don't worry, you won't scare me off... we're planning to live in a fifth wheel while we build cob, if we do that, so it's not like we're squeamish about small, unorthodox living conditions. Just trying to get a realistic sense of how it is. Dh is pretty attached to cob, but codes may make it too difficult, so I'm still looking at alternatives.
hram's Avatar hram
12:22 PM Liked: 14
#21 of 61
03-27-2010 | Posts: 261
Joined: Mar 2008
I came here to look for other yurt families and I found them. We just bought or 24' colorado yurt (used) and will be picking it up when my dad and brother have time to help. We even managed to buy the guys deck from him, so we wont have to worry about building one. My dh wont be back until this summer so Im goign to try and do what I can with it while he is gone and once he gets out of the service hopfully we will be all set up to live in it full time. Until them we may be spending the summer in a small camper (no bathroom, only toilet) on the beach. So I will have lost of questions soon!!
DirtRoadMama's Avatar DirtRoadMama
12:06 PM Liked: 12
#22 of 61
03-29-2010 | Posts: 206
Joined: Mar 2010
Hey, congrats on your new home, hram!

It sounds like you are going to be busy, but I'm sure a lot of us here would love it if you took lots of pictures... maybe a blog?

And living on the beach for a summer? I'm jealous!
Yurtlady's Avatar Yurtlady
01:43 PM Liked: 15
#23 of 61
03-30-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Mar 2010
Hi Aubergine,
Real story on mice--there's much less of a mouse issue in yurts than most houses, because it's not easy for them to get in. I've never experienced a mouse problem in any of the yurts I lived in, except for those times my cat brought a mouse into the yurt and released it, I guess because he thought it was fun to watch it run around the perimeter without any corners to hide in--or he enjoyed watching ME chasing the mouse to get it out of there...

I have to tell you that I was so relieved after my yurt finally went back up again last summer and I was able to move out of a mouse infested cabin (once caught 7 mice in traps in one night--Aargh!) and back into a mouse-free yurt.

I use a sawdust version of composting toilet, as in the "Humanure Handbook" style, and it's great. I prefer to keep toilets outside of my dwelling spaces when possible, personal preference, but do use a pee bucket at night--add water and it goes on my garden in the morning, amazing nutrients for the garden (have your library get the book "Liquid Gold" if you're interested in learning more).

Good luck, A...
Yurtlady's Avatar Yurtlady
01:52 PM Liked: 15
#24 of 61
03-30-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Mar 2010
Hi Phoebemommy,
RE: mold on yurt walls, shouldn't be an issue at all with the architectural fabrics used in modern fabric yurts. Mold and mildew are issues with cotton canvas, especially untreated, but most modern yurts aren't made with canvas. See the FAQ section on www.yurtinfo.org for info on maintenance.

I would strongly recommend in your situation that your family consider a yurt to live in while you're building your cob home. Cob is wonderful, hope it works for you to make it happen, but almost all building projects take longer than expected. If you're comfortably settled into a lovely yurt while building, then you're not under the same time pressure to get the building complete and the process will be much more enjoyable and less stressful for all concerned. Plus when your cob home is complete you can turn the yurt into a studio, guest quarters, B&B or whatever.

I'm traveling today so must go but will get back to the rest of your qn re: downsides...

papa de angel's Avatar papa de angel
07:57 PM Liked: 0
#25 of 61
03-30-2010 | Posts: 81
Joined: Sep 2006
Originally Posted by Yurtlady View Post
...... almost all building projects take longer than expected. If you're comfortably settled into a lovely yurt while building, then you're not under the same time pressure to get the building complete and the process will be much more enjoyable and less stressful for all concerned. Plus when your cob home is complete you can turn the yurt into a studio, guest quarters, B&B or whatever.
That is so true, and we're so ready to go!

We have the land, the info (hours of reading and research over 2+ years), all we need now is for the *¡$$¡** economy to pick up just enough so that we can actually buy a yurt We're even prepared to sell our little house to finance things.

I swear I often dream of yurts, it was sort of love at first sight.
I think it's the roundness of them.
hram's Avatar hram
10:45 AM Liked: 14
#26 of 61
04-02-2010 | Posts: 261
Joined: Mar 2008
Originally Posted by Yurtlady View Post
Hi Aubergine,
Real story on mice--there's much less of a mouse issue in yurts than most houses, because it's not easy for them to get in. I've never experienced a mouse problem in any of the yurts I lived in, except for those times my cat brought a mouse into the yurt and released it, I guess because he thought it was fun to watch it run around the perimeter without any corners to hide in--or he enjoyed watching ME chasing the mouse to get it out of there...
THis sounds like our new puppy. I thought she was choking on a stick, when I pulled it out it was a dead mouse. I dropped it and did the typical girl scream and then she immediately scarfed it down!

We had thought about doing a cob or strawbale home. We were getting pretty excited about it, but were worried about the permits and cost. So we dicided a "temporary" home would work better for our situation right now, even though we plan on living ther long term. And we could pay for it completely and not have to worry about payments. We are going to get a small one with our next tax return for our girls. We are going to build a strawbale shed insead with a living roof!! But our next purchase will be a composting toilet. Since we are going to be there for years we want a small amount of convenience. Next big thing is to build a basement under it and a deck around it. We need a root cellar and a storm shelter and the basement will serve as both. I have most of it all planned out in my head.

So a question: Im assuming most have wood stoves for heat. What do you do for cooking? DH wants to put a gas stove and fridge in, but we are worried about the cost of installing all that. Im hoping to get an outdoor oven/smoker/grill, like the one in the recent issue of mother earth news. Its cheap and quick to make!! Our land has no hookups at all.

So does anyone get negative comments? Im assuming if one could see the yurt set up they wouldnt be skeptical, but Im having a hard time with everyone saying "oh you cant live in that!" "How will you do 'this' or 'that" They cant see why we wouldnt want to live in a 4 bedroom house. Its a little discouraging, so I think we need to get in it as soon as possible to prove them wrong Since I cant get my dad to come with me to pick it up Im going to rent a uhaul adn drive out there myself and get my bro to get a friend to help take it down. ITs not that he wont come, he has made plans for two weekends that I asked to get it. He is also on call every other week and cant leave town so its jsut hard for him. I wish my dh was home, we coudl do everythign ourselves if he was. But two more months and he will be back.
Yurtlady's Avatar Yurtlady
05:02 PM Liked: 15
#27 of 61
04-06-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Mar 2010
Congrats, hram, on getting your yurt!

"Im assuming most have wood stoves for heat. What do you do for cooking? DH wants to put a gas stove and fridge in, but we are worried about the cost of installing all that.

So does anyone get negative comments?"

Wood stoves make a great heat source, though propane is also common. I think wood stoves are the warmest and coziest, plus it's a renewable resource.

Off-grid stoves and fridges are often propane, esp. the stove. If cost is a factor, look for used propane stoves at e.g., RV dealers or in your local 2nd hand paper, or see if you can take one out of a camper in a junkyard somewhere. There are some beautiful little stove/ovens hiding in junky old trailers.

For a fridge you can always start with coolers and water bottles filled with ice until you can track down a good propane fridge. Be aware that the propane fridges can sometimes be noisy. Again, a good source for used is RV's and trailers.

Does anyone think we're crazy for living in yurts, or wanting to? Yes. Not an uncommon scenario at all. Which is why I filled my book with beautiful photos, to show people the beauty of yurts and give them credibility.

You might try borrowing my book from the library to show all those skeptics, or get the beautiful promo pieces from companies like Pacific Yurts or Colorado Yurt Co. When the eyebrows start to go up, show them the gourgeous photos. "That's what I want." It helps. Otherwise, know that you're in good company, there are lots of us that love yurts, we're just all spread out...

Once you get in your yurt, people will come to visit and make the funniest comments, like, "Wow, this is NICE?! It's not what I was expecting at all." (And you're thinking, "So you were expecting me to live in a dump, or a tent? This is my home, of course it's nice!" But you just smile and sweetly say, "Well thank you, I'm glad you like it," like you, too, are surprised that your home is so nice. )

Phoebemommy, here's a bit on "downsides", or challenges:
  • yurts are more difficult to keep cool than to heat. PLEASE site your yurt under a tree if at all possible, for shade in the summer. Also, if you're in a hot, sunny site, get the insulation package so that it reflects heat away from the yurt in the summer.
  • you hear everything in a yurt, and people outside can also hear you. I love the soundscape in a rural setting, where you hear the stream running nearby, the wind in the trees, the coyote choir at night. Not so pleasant in a neighborhood or city. I advise folks in these situations to spend a few nights onsite in a tent to see if the soundscape works for them or not.
  • privacy. Again, you hear pretty much everything. As the kids get older it's better to put them in a seperate yurt.
  • windows. Remember that windows on the fabric yurts open from the outside, so you probably will need to build a deck around the yurt, at least where the opening windows are, so that you can open the windows easily, i.e., without having to use a ladder everytime.

Again, I'd suggest those who haven't been on my site to go to the FAQ's section at www.yurtinfo.org, which will have answers to a lot of the more technical questions or will direct you to other sites with answers.

It seems that some of you have spouses away in the military. I'd suggest that you find some local tradespeople (carpenters, plumbers, electricians) that will help to run a crew of your friends that can help you get your platform built and your yurt functional while your dh is away. Try asking at a local union if anyone would donate some time to lead a crew, or work for an affordable rate. I'll bet the union tradespeople would love to help!

Hope this is helpful, have a great week!

Yurts truly,
AZChickenlover's Avatar AZChickenlover
01:42 AM Liked: 13
#28 of 61
04-11-2010 | Posts: 22
Joined: Jul 2008
This is for Becky and any "potential yurt owners out there;

We borrowed Becky's book from the library when we first considered erecting a yurt here in Arizona. It answered many questions for us, and when we finally did take that step and purchased a "pre-owned" yurt, we checked out the book a second time. It has been immensly helpful.

We chose to build a step at a time, paying cash for materials and labor, so that we would not be in any more debt. Suprisingly enough, the permit process has been fairly pain-free, and that was very encouraging. You can watch our progress as I update our website: http://www.ttrsracing.com/yurt.htm
(As I checked the site, I realized that I have not updated since February, so I will be fixing that soon )
Goddess3_2005's Avatar Goddess3_2005
03:08 PM Liked: 33
#29 of 61
04-12-2010 | Posts: 2,328
Joined: Oct 2004
Cool Chicken lover! Your so close to where my dadlives! ;0)
We have decided that we can't afford to buy a yurt so we are considering the undertaking of making our own. How hard could it be, LOL!
Yurtlady's Avatar Yurtlady
10:20 PM Liked: 15
#30 of 61
04-13-2010 | Posts: 9
Joined: Mar 2010
Thank you, AZChickenlover. I wrote the book for folks like you and hearing that it was useful makes all the work worthwhile!!

Posted your blog link on my "Yurtlady" facbook page, hope that's okay. Great slideshow and information!!

So, Goddess3, re: building your own yurt, do check out the Build A Yurt section on www.yurtinfo.org. You'll find plans at http://www.yurtinfo.org/yurtplans.php as well as listings of workshops. I'm still adding a few new sets of plans that have come out for the fabric yurts, and Laurel Nest Yurts (www.laurelnest.com) in North Carolina will be putting out some plans soon. They are also available for support and to answer questions for the DIY crowd.

Finally, you can go to the Building a Yurt forum thread at http://www.yurtinfo.org/forum/list.php?9 to ask your questions as they come up. There are some great yurt folks who check in regularly with that thread to answer questions.

Good luck with your yurt building project!!!


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