Feb 232011
I took this photo of a yurt in Shymkent, Kazak...

Image via Wikipedia

Right about now you’re probably thinking to yourself, “Bob has spent all this time writing all the Yurt Yak posts, extolling the virtues of yurt living, showing us the best company to buy a yurt from, and going over the details of how to actually build a yurt, and what does he do now?”

“He tells us to avoid yurt living at all costs.”

Well folks, while I am just as happy as a pig in slop with my decision to buy, build, and live in a yurt, I thought I might plant my tongue firmly in my cheek and tell you five reasons not to live in a yurt.

• Neighborhood automobile traffic will increase dramatically. Granted, most yurts are not built in a “neighborhood” in the usual sense, but there is usually a house or two with a mile or so (or, in the case of Montana within 10 miles) and traffic in the typical “yurt” type neighborhood is minimal. The sense of privacy, or even isolation, that most yurt type people seek, and think they have found, will be destroyed when they build a yurt.

Everybody within five counties, or 100 miles, whichever distance is greater, will be driving by (and blowing their horns) on Saturday mornings to see that “weird tent” those new people built. You might as well get some chickens to feed or some goats to milk because sleeping in on Saturdays is over.

• Remember those “friends” you left behind in your previous life? The friends whose lives revolved around having two new cars in the driveway and a McMansion they can’t afford? The friends to whom image is everything, and who like to make fun of strange people at parties? Do you know who their new example of “strange people” is, who their new target of derision is?

You. At 9:00 PM on Friday nights, when the old neighborhood parties are in full swing, your ears will burn. At 8:00 AM on Saturday mornings, your regular golf tee time in your pre yurt days, any of your old golfing buddies who aren’t driving by to look at your weird new tent, will be chuckling over your strange choice of housing when they tee off.

• Those same friends from your previous life, who laugh at you at parties and on the golf course, will still be curious about your tent and will be constantly trying to finagle an invitation to come over to eat and check out your new abode. The downside is that their curiosity will be so great that they will hound you until you finally give in and invite them over.

There is an upside however. Since they still live in a world where image is everything, and since, by living in a tent, you have declared yourself an oddity, they will only try to intrude on your supper, since that meal is usually after dark and they can come and go without being seen. You will not have to worry about them spoiling your backyard barbecues in the afternoon.

• You will suddenly discover that you have way too much “stuff”. It’s not a matter of storage (though storage issues in a yurt do require some creative thinking). Somehow, almost magically, your attitude toward “stuff” changes when you live in a yurt. You start having little battles in your mind of quality vs. quantity, and more and more quality and usefulness wins over acquisition and collecting.

This leads you to develop an intimate relationship with the selling side of eBay and Craig’s List. This is not so much a yurt living downside for you (especially since it puts money in your pocket) as it is for me. After all, the computer time you spend on eBay and Craig’s List is time not spent here at JuicyMaters, and that is a bad, bad thing.

That pretty much covers all the reasons I can think of to avoid yurt living. Oh, you say that the post title says there are five reasons to avoid yurt living? Well, there are only these four. Posts that list things (oddly enough called list posts) tend to get a lot of reader traffic, and I, like most bloggers, absolutely love it when my friends (that would be you) stop by the blog to visit.

Oddly, statistics show that lists of four of something…” Four ways to wash your hair” or “Four ways to pluck a chicken”…don’t get read as much as lists of five… “Five ways to make a million bucks in 30 seconds flat”, so I made this list post a list of five instead of four to pull y’all in.

I’ll bet you think that’s silly and won’t work, right?

Really?  You are here, aren’t you?  You’ve read the whole post, right?

You can click on the “comments” link below if you wanna give me a hard time for being sneaky. In fact, even if you don’t want to give me a hard time, click on the link and leave a comment anyway. That’s the best way for me to know if anybody’s really listening out there.

You are out there, right? ***tap, tap, tap*** Is this thing on?

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  83 Responses to “5 reasons to avoid yurt living at all costs”

Comments (83)
  1. Bill, you sound like me. At 59 I find myself seeking things that can be found inside…inside ourselves as well as other people…far more tyhan I used to, while seeking material “stuff” far less…

  2. At 55 I find myself wanting to ditch the city with all of its nonsense, people (I prefer dogs to most people). But I have a wife that likes all that city living provides so Yurts and off the grid and being self sufficient is all in my dreams. So I carve spoons and other kitchen tools, fix my tools rather than replace and live the mountain way as best I can. If only in my dreams and actions.

  3. I to have a spouse that loves the city and all its ‘treasures’ (tongue in cheek) and won’t move but the beauty and grace of the yurt is hard to resist. Hope to have one soon.

  4. Good luck. If you (and spouse) ever make it into one, you (and spouse) will never move out.

    Oh…and keep coming back to JuicyMaters to visit!

  5. I’m 18 and trying to simplify my life and do more with less, yurt living sounds like a good idea.

  6. Sarak, yurt living is great…a real good base for living a simple, frugal life.

  7. We have been living in a 32 foot fifth wheel with out two boys for the last 14 months, teaching them all about American history by going to see where it happened! So the hard part, ditching all our crap, learning to live small, is done! Now I am researching yurts and places to rent land to put it on. We are so excited about this new prospect! I wonder, could number 5 be, anyone could walk through the side of your home, including bears, if they really wanted? With the boys, that is my only real worry. That and emptying the composting toilet. But, again, I can dump a black tank!
    Thanks for the article!

  8. First, congrats on learning to live without all the “stuff”. That is thew hardest part to learn about yurt living.

    Outside intruders, including bears, would find it extremely difficult to get into a yurt through the walls. While the sidecover material can be cut with something sharp, be it knife OR bear claws, getting through the lattice walls would be hard, at least in a Pacific Yurt (the only company I have experience with).

    When you think “lattice” you probably think like I did…that thin, mostly decorative stuff they sell at the big box stores in 4×8 sheets for mostly decorative garden projects. Get that out of your head. The lattice in the walls is substantially more robust than that. First, the wood “slats” are about twice as thick and wider as well, and is of, I believe, Douglas fir, a much more durable, tough wood than the stuff in the panels. Second, they aren’t stapled together like the panels are…they are riveted at each palace the wood slats cross, with heavy, durable metal rivets.

    As in most stick-built “normal” homes, the door is the weakest, not strongest point.

    Have a GREAT day, and keep coming back to JuicyMaters!

  9. “this thing is on….thanks for the insight and fun!”

  10. I like it. We are a HUGE family. 5 (about to be 6) kids, husband, myself, a dog, the evil minion cats.. yay..
    We looked at yurts and found them a tad bit small. But a more pertinent option is, for us, a round home, with a bunk style? 2Nd story.
    Not hugeness.. because i dont want all the stuff… but big enough for everyone to have a space no mater how small, or big.

  11. Steph, welcome to the JuicyMaters family. Keep coming back.

    Right off the top of my head I can think of at least two ways to have a yurt and deal with a large family.

    The first way that comes to mind is what I am in the process of doing now. I built my yurt thinking it would be just me forever, and a yurt is great for one person. It fits a couple well too, and even a young couple with a baby or toddler…but that;s about it, as you know.

    Well, two years ago (anniversary was New Years Eve…YAY!) I got married and the deal included a new daughter who will be 15 next month. Ooops! 3 people, one of whom is a teenage girl, just won’t work in a yurt, so…I added a yurt (just finishing the project up. Its been a cramped two years!) The two yurts, the original 30 footer and the new 16 footer that will be the teens roon, are connected by a 8×12 sunroom, but they could just as easily be as close as one foot apart. Expanding on that idea you could have a main yurt and easily connect as many as three “sub-yurts” to it. Heck, you could really go crazy and have sub-sub yurts added to the sub-yurts. A 20 foot yurt can easily accomodate two kids rooms each.

    The second way comes to mind because its a lot like a family in Alaska that built a yurt (a Pacific Yurt, by the way) when they moved north for the wife to attend medical school in Anchorage. They built a block wall foundation for the yurt to sit on and the foundation was the same diameter as the yurt, effectively doubling their space. They use theirs for a garage, but it could easily be additional room as well.

    Think outside the box. Thats what yurts are all about…thinking outside the box.

    Incidentally, if you sign up for the newsletter (look at top of right sidebar) you’ll know when big things are happening here…like the soon to come (March 1st is planned) release of my yurt book.

  12. What i have “planed” is almost a 2 story yurt. Larger round upper bunk that can be spaced off with a “wall” of some kind. Im not looking for 7392sqft here .. just… own space.
    We have an almost teenager, a 6yo with some emotional issues, and then new baby on the way.. as well as 3 more.. gah kill me… so own space is a must.
    Also.. we’ll be throwing chickens in the mix for good ol neighbor fun.

  13. A yurt ALWAYS needs chickens and other livestock.

    I had to get rid of my animals due to health reasons a few years back, but those issues are mostly straightened out and the animals are coming back between now and spring. Laying hens (50-100), meat birds (25 per week), pigs (2 per year for the freezer plus a sow. All of the lpiglets over the yearly 2 for the family will get sold as feeders. Big Black Hogs), possibly meat rabbits as well. All this PLUS a market garden.

  14. Thats a lot of hens! We have 60 for eggs plus ducks. May look into getting a rooster and some turkeys. Not a fan of pigs though they do a fantastic job of turning up the old garden beds.
    Goats are on our list as well.

  15. Loved this blog. I’m a transplanted N. Georgia girl myself, moving to Alaska in 1982. I’ve recently started considering yurt living here in the Anchorage area and was talking myself out of it till I read your blog. I’m in my 60s now and not sure if keeping warm in the winter will require more work than I’m cut out for, but the prospect of a home with personality is intriguing for sure. Alaska is full of weird people anyway so if fit right in with my yurt. I’m also an artist who is allergic to beige, so if they come in colors then I’m sold. Thanks for the fun read!

  16. Looking to move to RI beaches area…charlestown preferably, and looking into this kind of dwelling as a permanent residence. Have pinned gorgeous homes…yurts and what i think may be “roundhouses”? Would be away from mainstream, and just beginning the process of finding if it would be permissible…sure hope so.

  17. Best of luck! I’m not sure about RI, but there are a number of folks in close by VT that live in yurts so New England may be nore yurt friendly than many other locales.

    Good luck!

  18. So I have 2 questions. We are looking for affordable housing and just started looking at yurts. Question 1) What is the durability/life expectancy of a yurt? and 2) what about re-sale value? We are retired and will probably only need one for the next 15-20 years.

  19. wow, that is exactly why i will live a peaceful existence in a yurt or any other alternative shelter…
    thank you for your post of reminding all of the frivolous existence we are expected to maintain according to society. Your “friends” you speak of hankering for a peek at your new life. Your need to be fulfilled and sustained by THEM. Like I said, thank you. Peace, Love, and always good vibes – thank you.

  20. Hi Bob, I love your site. Its been very useful to me in considering yurts as a permanent residence. I’m hoping you can address my two major concerns. Noise and Permitting.

    How loud do you consider the inside of a yurt that’s been insulated and had sheet rock put up between the wall rafters (to meet IBC codes for insulation)? I’m considering lots all over my area of upstate of South Carolina (not far from you really) but it seems that most of the lots have neighbors within a few aces (1 to 3) but with farmland and wooded areas all around as well. Natural sounds, weather and animals don’t bother me. But I can’t afford 50 acres to insulate myself from traffic and domestic sounds so this is my main concern. What are your thoughts?

    Regarding permitting. When I called the local permitting office the receptionist/admin asst. was very strict in saying that “it must meet IBC residential code for single family residences. We don’t approve plans beforehand. We leave the responsibility to meet the IBC code up to the owner/builder. If it fails inspection it will not be granted a CO and we will most likely require that it be demolished or removed.” So, based on that conversation I’m extremely hesitant to purchase a lot or a yurt without some assurances. She did state that I could schedule in appointment to speak with someone in more detail, possibly present plans etc. What can I do that would help my process along? And are Pacific yurts, Colorado yurts, or Nomads yurts from Alaska compliant with IBC residential codes when insulated? Would they supply plans to me or directly to an county official before purchasing a Yurt so that it could be approved locally first? Being on a budget I’m not willing to buy a yurt or spend hundreds on plans only to find out later that they won’t be approved. But if they are approved I would definitely buy from that company.

    I’m curious why there aren’t more photos of your yurt and environs on the site? Maybe I’m not looking in the right place but I’d love to see a gallery of your setup!

    Thank you so much for answering questions and for the valuable information in your articles!

  21. Just introduced to yurts by a former art student of mine!!! Would really love the asthetics of it for living and studio space!!!! Turning 60 this year, so I’m not sure I could do the cold weather routine, but the layout and simplicity are just perfect for this widowed artist!!! Can’t wait to research this more!
    Any advice would be gratefully accepted!!!:):)

  22. No cold issues here in N Georgia, and we had a day or two below zero last winter. I have a friend in a yurt just like mine 250 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska.

  23. Sneaky, sneaky. Yes, yurt living is awesome. I bought a and put it on our farm. It is so freaking awesome. Barely stay in the house hahaah.

  24. hehehe…I got you to read it, didn’t I?

  25. Aloha!
    So my husband and I are wanting to build a house on our land in S. Oregon and it seems no one can build what I designed…..a simple circle but with a complicated reciprocal roof. So, my architect recommended a yurt kit and I’m inclined to agree. The circle is the best floor plan and, since there are only two other people within a mile of our land, no one will be there to stand and stare at us. Maybe the wild horses will be amused though. I’d love to find out for myself!

  26. Kiki, I’ve been in my yurt since September 28, 2009, and I am often asked if I knew then what I know now would I still build and live in a yurt. The answer is an instant, loud, YES!

  27. Thanks Bob! We’re just having trouble with putting power in; too expensive to do solar and don’t want a propane fire. I know we need to wire the yurt for electricity according to Oregon Bldg. Code but it doesn’t mean we need to use it. However, not sure how the County would like wires not connected to a power source, lol! This off the grid stuff is really harder than people realize!

  28. Kiki…look into solar in detail. You might be surprised at how much the costs have dropped just in the last year to 18 months. I’ll be adding solar power this spring to be 100% off the electric company.

  29. Thanks Bob,

    I got a quote from Eco Solar of $50K which is so ridiculous I have a hard time writing it! There’s NO way we can afford it, and I think that, because we won’t be tied to the grid, they gave us that quote because they don’t want our business. Another company said that they didn’t want to do the project ’cause we won’t be tied to the grid. That $50K doesn’t include the $5K propane generator they said we needed. I think the propane fridge, freezer, and tankless water heater will be fine but I just don’t know if we should do solar or wind for the well pumps, gray water septic pump, and lights in the house (I plan on using oil lamps but we need to wire the house per building code). Thanks for the advice! Kiki

  30. Kiki…that quote is rediculous. You can do total solar for under 20K I know, and probably around 10-12K unless you build something REALLY outrageous. Now that is solar equipment and batteries only, and it IS you an your husband doing most of the work, but really its not that difficult. Don’t go with a turnkey system…shop around, buy inexpensive but good, not cheap, and think outside the box. My system is going to run me $5-7K for 100% of my electricity needs.

    As for a generator…I just got and installed a 10KW peak, 8KW continuous 120/240 V 50 Amp generator, NEW, for just under $1000.00. Admittedly, I got a whale of a deal on the generator, but even at the price you’d have to pay for the generator you’d have it installed, ready to go, for about $1600.00. Again, that is y’all doing the work, and, aagain, its not hard.

  31. Thanks Bob, I knew there was SOMEONE out there who knew better and could steer me in the right direction!

  32. So I live in cherokee county and am looking into moving to Pickens and buying a yurt. Is GA code pretty reasonable with yurts?

  33. Greg…most of Georgia, including Pickens Co, follows the IBC, which looks at yurts as “temporary structures”. Pickens tends to be pretty friendly towards “alternative home construction” methods. If you like, we can talk privately about the ins and outs of building a yurt in Pickens. Give me a call if you wish: 706.502.0858.


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