We're looking into it too - and we're in MA.
We haven't gotten far but we just requested a book from interlibrary loan: Living in the Round (http://www.livingintheround.org/
I am trying to figure out if we can avoid a septic hookup - expensive and not necessary, imho. I am sold on composting humanure. (And am considering doing it here in this house even if we don't move to a yurt). The book for that is the Humanure Handbook. (I also got it from interlibrary loan).
But more than anything, I'm trying to figure out if I REALLY want to do this. I have been making noises about it for a couple of years but all of a sudden the yurt bug bit my husband and now I'm unsure. LOL, it's driving him nuts, he's saying "you've been yapping about this for years, how can you say you're not sure you want to??" So he's the one looking at land and calling the zoning department and I'm like "um, I'm not sure..."
Like you, I'm afraid that we'd put in so much that it we would basically be pretty much no better off than we are in our current home. We live in a very modest home and we're not overstretched. But DH's primary reason (and there are secondary reasons too) for wanting to do this is to be free. To be debt-free, to have freedom to work for himself and not have pressure to earn a lot of money.
We would not be debt-free if we did this, even if our blue-sky numbers turn out right (which as you know they rarely do). But our blue-sky writeup suggests we could be out of debt in 7 years, instead of 27 as we're on the path to do now. (Unless we make more money, after we pay off our student loans we have to roll all that money into retirement and we'll have nothing left over to prepay our mortgage). Now, 7 vs 27 (if it's even true) is a big difference, but at the same time I'm scared thinking that even 7 years is a long time. (FYI we would both keep our jobs if we moved to the yurt - I work for an Internet company and DH works for himself repairing electronics).
Some stuff I've learned so far, good and bad:
- Mice and rats can be a problem. But I hear that cats really help keep the rodents away, they don't like to come in a place with cats around. We have 2 cats.
- There's black bears in our area. But I read that yurts are bear-proof - they might rip the fabric but they can't get past the lattice frame.
- Obviously overall you have to be really, really, really careful and anal about food and cleaning up. You don't want to attract bugs, rodents or bears.
- From what I'm reading, yurts in a cold climate are absolutely do-able. In fact, the original yurts were from cold (dry) climates. Our climate is wetter, so we can't use the traditional felted wool insulation, but there's other fabrics and insulations that work perfectly well. Yurts withstand snow (you have to check building codes for the snow weight per square foot that it must withstand for your area, and then get a structure that meets that).
- Yurts are apparently very warm. DH read that the bad thing is that if you let the fire go out (or whatever heat you're using), the yurt gets very cold very quickly. But the opposite is true as well, once you re-light the fire, it's warm and toasty within minutes.
- I read someone saying they go through 7 cords of wood a winter (in Alaska). Whoo, that's a lot, but we'd use less in New England.
Well, that's my braindump for this thread. I'm obviously no expert, just in the same position as you, but this is a good thread for me too. Good to think things out more.