GUEST POST: There’s No Place Like Home

I am often asked if I live in a yurt. And to be honest – it feels like I do! I spend so much time in our model yurts in our Yurt Village being “yurty.” I clean them, I decorate them, I have a garden around the yurts, I host visitors every day of the week and… I spend all day on the phone talking to you about them.

But truth be told – I don’t actually live in one. That is why I am very excited about our guest blog this week. Please meet Erin who has a wonderful way of sharing her experiences of yurt living.

Enjoy!

- Dana

“Wow, this is cool!”

That is the comment we hear most about our 30 ft yurt, usually expressed in a tone of shock.

We’ve heard it from local redneck hunters, known for being just a little close minded about new things, that openly acknowledged they’d choose a yurt for their next home, to yurt guests who were worried about “sleeping in a tent” and left saying it felt like a luxury spa vacation.

yurt7Our parents thought we were crazy to buy a glorified circus tent for full time living, and now? They beg us to leave town, so they can come yurt-sit for us. A business client in NJ is always asking about our most recent yurt update, and another talks us up to HIS clients because he’s now an avid yurt advocate, and loves educating people about “living in the round”.

What this says to me is that yurts are experiencing a huge resurgence, not just among hippies, state parks and back-to-the-landers, but also people that don’t want to jump into a huge mortgage, people that are looking for a lower impact or smaller square foot existence, people that want something different. And, they are finding their answer in yurts.

yurt3Quick to raise and amazingly flexible in usage, yurts are a great answer for a huge number of people. We operate our web design business, and live full time in our yurt with three cats, and a cute hound dog. We never feel cramped for space, or regret our decision to live in a yurt. I can’t imagine ever not having a yurt in my life, it’s so much more comfortable than most homes with the high ceiling, open floor plan and sense of peace.

Oh? You have a family, and think a yurt can only work for a couple? Not true. We have good friends that are erecting a triple decker yurt with a full basement, another level with bedrooms and bathroom, and then the top level is their yurt, which will include living space and kitchen. They have two young kids, and the whole family can’t wait for their new home to be completed!

OK, that’s all well and good, you say, but you like entertaining and throwing dinner parties? So do we!

We’ve hosted parties with 15 people, which is usually a claustrophobic experience in the 100 year old farm houses that proliferate in our area of the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia.

In a yurt? There is plenty of space for three or four groups to form and still interact with one another, rather than being forced off into the kitchen, living room and backyard. Obviously, this is dependent on your floor plan. We chose a very open plan, with the only enclosed space being our bathroom. And, rather than thinking it’s odd, people LOVE hanging out in the yurt and are always impressed by its stability, “feel” and comfort.

In fact, at one party, we had an unexpected hail storm. The golf ball sized hail was falling so thick, you couldn’t see out the door and the sound in the yurt was almost deafening.

Every single guest said it was an amazing experience, and they were beyond impressed at the yurt’s resilience. Adding to that, our neighbors had thousands of dollars of damage to their shingle roofs, we had zip, zero, nada damage. Same story for several extreme wind storms. At first, our neighbors would visit after a storm, worried we had blown away. Now? They don’t even bother, since they assume the yurt fared better than their home! Yep, our yurt is pretty famous around these parts.

yurt6Since we spend a large amount of our time in our yurt, we chose to build an internal walled bathroom that houses a full size shower, toilet and sink; plus, our full size stacking washer and dryer, and our chest freezer. You might assume that means our bathroom is uncomfortably crowded.

Nope. It’s another thing that people are shocked by. It’s spacious and comfortable inside, and from the outside, it doesn’t feel like it’s taking up the whole yurt.

Our kitchen shares the “wet” wall of the bathroom (where the plumbing for the washer/dryer and shower are), and we have a full size propane gas stove, oversized sink and full size dishwasher along that wall. We love to cook, so our kitchen takes up a quarter of our yurt floor space, and I have never enjoyed cooking in a kitchen more. We’re still working on our storage options, but there is no rush, since it’s our home that we’ll live in for years to come. It’s a good feeling after renting for years.

Speaking of, when you rent… you can’t put up a rock climbing wall in your home, now can you? Too bad, it’s pretty fun. Just another benefit of owning your own home, which is something we couldn’t have afforded for years without a break-your-back mortgage. Our yurt, with all of the interior work, beautiful deck and appliances, came in at $56K total. We were able to pay for it with cash, and a few small family loans, that are almost paid off in the first year.

Nice, right?

And, that price could have been significantly reduced if you’re not in a hurry, if you can do your own electric/plumbing, if you don’t want internal walls, if you already have your appliances or enjoy hunting for deals, etc.

We were in a rush, so we bought full price new appliances, and paid contractors for all of the work. The deck was also a significant cost, so you can always avoid that entirely with just a yurt platform.

yurt2So, thanks to our choice to live in a yurt, we now live on 22 rural acres, with a flock of free range chickens clucking around outside, and the best sleep we have ever had. It’s a common quote that you’ll never sleep so well as in a yurt. It’s true.

OK. I’ve talked about all of the positives, maybe you want to hear the negatives that we’ve experienced? There are only two.

One: In our experience, yurts are easier to heat than cool. We live in a mountain climate, with cooler, sunny summers and icy cold, windy winters. Our wood stove kept us toasty warm in our insulated yurt (walls and roof) last winter, but in the hot summer sun, our fully exposed yurt did heat up. In retrospect, we should have chosen a slightly shaded spot, but we’re planning on adding an arbor around the sunniest side for next year. Lemons into lemonade, right?

Two: We live in one of the windiest areas of the US, with frequent gusts up to 40-50 mph, and it can get loud in here. But, with that said, our neighbor’s thick walled log cabin isn’t exactly silent either. It’s just that windy here. And, I STILL love my yurt, so that should speak volumes.

Now that I’ve gotten you hyped up about living in a yurt (or using one as a studio, guest house, store front, etc etc), where should you go for more information? Lucky for you, there are a number of great yurt companies sprinkled throughout the US. Due to proximity, we chose a yurt company in our backyard; however, I highly recommend Rainier Yurts based on both their reputation, and my own personal experience with their staff.

When you’re buying your new home, and raising it yourself, you want great customer service. Rainier has that. They are polite, friendly and have an impressive drive to create the best customer experience possible, from start to finish. Give them a call at (800) 869-7162 or check out their website for more information – HERE

If you’re interested in learning more about my experience buying and building a yurt, please check out the eBook I wrote, called “So, You Want to Live in a Yurt?” which is available on Amazon – HERE