Have you ever considered living in a yurt?
Our Starry Eyed American Dream
We wanted to find our own little piece of paradise, away from crowds, traffic and ever-growing urban sprawl. So we moved to a remote area in NW Montana. We didn’t have our housing figured out and I didn’t have a job lined up. I even managed to total my car two weeks prior to our departure and I arrived in the new town damn-near broke. We found the most affordable rental property available on Craigslist and it was, you guessed it, a yurt. We figured it would be a fun summer gig and we could move out in the fall.
Transitioning to the Natural Lifestyle and Minimalism
As it turns out, rural and serene places are as scarce in people as they are in good paying jobs. As winter came around, I didn’t have the means to move into a full size house. I guess I got what I had asked for – living a simple life with little money.
So, we stayed for the cold, dark and seemingly endless Montana winter.
The first thing we had to do was get rid of a lot of extra baggage, literally. By the end of the purge I was down to 1 week’s worth of clothes, 4 plates, 2 bowls, and 1 pot and 1 pan for cooking. You get the idea. As a general rule, if I didn’t plan to use it in the next week or so, it probably wasn’t going to get used.
Getting used to going to the bathroom outside was also part of the transition. Something to think about if you plan of living in a yurt that does not have indoor plumbing.
Adapting to a more natural lifestyle pulled us away from certain conveniences and technology. We didn’t have Wifi in the beginning, so no more scrolling for hours or Netflix binges. Instead, we got creative, played with mini Nerf guns and got a chess board. Habituating to the quiet environment created a new found awareness of the diurnal rhythms. I got better at deciphering the noises I heard in the woods. But I never lost my fear of what might be staring at me through the dark forest at night.
What to look for in a yurt
We were living in a yurt made by Pacific Yurts, an Oregon based company. Since our town is on the very edge of the Pacific Northwest region, I trust that this brand tests their yurts for durability and comfort for the weather of this region. Cold, snowy winters, warm buggy summer, lots of rain and the occasional wind event requires special features. There are so many yurt companies out there, but I loved our Pacific Yurt and can vouch for the quality and sturdiness of their products, even during a harsh Montana winter.
Flooring, Insulation and Other Features
The floor was heavily insulated with blue foam board, so heat didn’t seep out and our toes stayed relatively warm. The walls had heat-reflecting liners and the fiber glass windows had thick covers that could be dropped down during the extra cold months. I would suggest living in a yurt that is produced in, or at least adapted to, the climate you are in. Also, make sure the fabric of your yurt walls are resistant to chemicals and impact.
(Side note: I highly recommend living in a yurt with skylight dome! Not that it has a great deal of functional purpose, but there is nothing better than laying down at night and being able to stargaze.)
Approximate Cost of the Yurt + Zoning Requirements
We didn’t buy this yurt, we only rented from our landlords. However, we estimated that our 12 foot diameter yurt probably cost somewhere around $7,000. This might seem expensive for a glorified tent, but its pretty affordable compared to a house. When your are interested in living a simple life with little money, you might have to make some sacrifices.
If you are looking to purchase a yurt for long-term living, it is important to consider zoning requirements in your area. We were just outside the town bubble, so it wasn’t mandatory that a long-term structure be built on the property.
Appliances and Accessories for Living in a Yurt
Though our yurt was heavily insulated, we did not have the most optimal heat source, which would have been the dry heat of a wood burning stove. All that kept us warm at night were two small electric heaters. So, we invested in a Big Buddy Heater, that could rapidly heat the yurt on chilly mornings. Don’t leave these on for too long though, the propane fuel is best used for short bursts. If it burns too long you could risk carbon monoxide exposure.
Our water was a basic gravity fed system, ideal for people interested in living a simple life with little money or resources. Basically, you have a tank that sits on a tall shelf attached to a tube, so that water can pour into the sink. Waste water goes in a separate bin that we had to empty a couple times a week.
Look Forward to Stronger Arms + Don't Forget to Empty the Waste Water!
While washing the dishes, you may experience the feeling of your feet getting soaked because your forgot to empty the waste water bin and now its overflowing everywhere. Don’t forget to empty your waste water and use eco-friendly dish soap because you will be disposing this near to your domicile.
Refilling the water is an even more exciting chore! I have always known that water is an incredibly special resource, but something about wrestling 40 pounds of water over your head to get it back on the shelf really makes you appreciate indoor plumbing.
Cooking Accessories for Natural Lifestyles and Minimalist Living
Living in a yurt did not stop me from eating healthy. For cooking, we used an outdoor propane grill, similar to what you would use while tailgating at a football game. Our other primary piece of cooking equipment was an instant pot. With that piece of equipment alone, we were able to make cheesecakes, soups, boiled eggs, rotisserie chicken, bone broths and pretty much everything in between. Clearly, we were ‘on the grid’ and had full access to electric. Though we did manage to flip the breaker often, we never let that get in the way of making delicious real food every damn day. Because that is what I am all about.
How to Enjoy Living a Simple Life with Little Money
“Will this fit in the yurt”, is a common question you will find yourself asking. We learned not to buy any extra food, clothes or accessories that were not immediately necessary. Even months after living in a yurt, that mentality sticks with me. Every decision regarding my consumption, including how I spent my money to how much water I used, was met with a newly formed, conservation-minded mentality.
Eat Simple, Healthy Meals
The trick to eating well while living in a yurt is to keep meals simple. I purchased a lot of dried goods, like whole grain rice, all types of beans, and oats. These seemed to hold up well in the fluctuating temperatures and I used my instant pot to cook them quickly. I would just have to grab some veggies from the garden barrel or local farm, eggs and a few toppings to make most of my meals. I still managed to get in my daily smoothie, though!
If you are interested in living in a yurt and have any questions, drop a comment below or shoot me an email.
Thanks for reading!