How to Live in a Yurt

It has been one year since Evan and I (with A LOT of help from our friends) erected our yurt.  Although it seems like just yesterday I was waking up in a very cold tent with a giant hole in the ceiling to make a sad breakfast on a camp stove from food that had been stored in a cooler.  We’ve, thankfully, come a long way since then.

So, how are we dealing with the yurt life?  How have we done it?  Of course there are good days and bad, just like there would be in any home, but I’ve come up with a fairly foolproof way to live in a yurt if you really want to…

 

  • Jump in Headfirst and Do It

There’s no better way to find out if you can do something than just plain trying it.  I often find myself saying, “I just don’t think I could do x, y or z.”  Of course I don’t know if I can do it if I don’t try it!  If it is financially, socially and morally responsible and possible for you to do something, why not do it?

 

  • Get Rid of Your Other Options

With the yurt, it would have been far too easy to stay in an apartment or other home if it had been available in the early months of yurt living.  Evan and I even made a pact after a particularly terrible week in October that we would find an apartment if yurt life didn’t improve by the beginning of November.  If, at that time, an apartment had been available, I would have high-tailed my way out of the cold, dusty, wet, no-where-to-make-or-eat-decent-food “home.”

 

  • Appreciate It

Living in an alternative home is an amazing opportunity.  It is something we won’t do forever.  Fortunately, we don’t have to live in a glorified tent for the rest of our lives.  Furthermore, we are lucky enough to be in a position where this is a choice, not a necessity.  We don’t live in a slum or on the streets.  This is actually an adventure that we get to embark on because of the privileged lives we have.

 

  • Get an Amazing Support System

There is no way we could have done this without the help, generosity and support of many, many people.  From our friends who allow us to live on their land (and let us run an extension cord from their house for two months, and park in their drive way, and shower in their bathroom, and so many other amazing things) to the many hands that helped build our yurt sweet yurt, to our nimble chimney sweeping friends, to friends with connections who drop off free wood to keep us warm in the winter, they are why this is possible.   We THANK YOU all so much.

 

  • Forget About Social “Norms”

For the most part, living in our yurt is pretty comfortable.  There are very few complaints on our end.  There may, however, be complaints from those who are used to the finer things in life, like toilets that flush.  Luckily, we are surrounded by dirt bag climbers, outdoor educators, Alaskans and farmers who either don’t care or have lived like this themselves (and they often have some tips!).  So what if it isn’t “normal” for a family to live in one room where everything happens?  This is and has been “normal” for a long time in many places around the world.  Just because it isn’t what one set of people generally does, it doesn’t make it the wrong way.

 

  • Be Shameless

I think this actually happened once I gave birth in front of half a dozen people…but I digress.  Being shameless is liberating!  And it is necessary in a yurt.  From the never-ending pile of dishes to the close proximity of everything, there is very little room for one’s pride.  This is a good practice for all of life but a necessity in close quarters.

 

  • Love Those House Plants

Indoor plants literally bring life into any space.  They clean the air, add some ambience and make a place feel lived in and loved.  We lost a few plants when it got too cold in the yurt over the winter, but luckily that is fixed now that we…

 

  • Have Electricity

We are on the grid, but any electricity would do—solar, water, generator.  It is incredible how good it feels to flip a switch and have a light come on after a couple months of living with one lamp on an extension cord and headlamps.  You kind of feel like the Creator—“And on the 75th day, there was light!!”  It felt even better to have a real refrigerator.  We stored our food in various places in the yurt where the temperature remained above freezing, but still cold enough to keep our food from killing us.  Sometimes this failed and we ended up with frozen produce, but it mostly worked.  It was just a pain, especially with my then ever-increasing pregnant belly.

 

Those are my eight steps to successful yurt life!  Living in a yurt for a year has been incredible.  It is the first home that Evan and I have owned, and it is a perfect place to live for now with Ava and our dog.  It has made me thankful for so much in our lives while also shedding light on those people in our society and world that do not have most of the comforts that we can even have in a yurt, let alone a real house.

Are any of you thinking of transitioning to yurt life or taking part in the tiny house movement?  We would love to hear about your experiences or any other tips you have for alternative housing!

 

Until Next Time,

Sending you Peace and Love from AK,

Alex, the Rural Farmgirl

Leave a comment 6 Comments

  1. Hello Alex! The closest I’ve come to living in a Yurt, was living in a travel trailer (a small one) for 2 years while we built our home. I really enjoyed it for the first year and then I started getting kind of frustrated! :-) BUT, what I learned is that we don’t need all that clutter and “stuff” that we tend to just fill our spaces with. In our new home (it’s small in new home standards, just 1300 square feet) and I’ve been so reluctant to fill it up just to fill it up. After living in the travel trailer I realize we don’t need half that stuff we accumulate! Love your yurt and I think it is going to create the BEST memories for your little family. – Dori – (AKA: the new Ranch Farmgirl!)

  2. Karen Pennebaker says:

    We lived in a camper with our 2 granddaughters for a year while we built our house. 4 years ago, our house burned down and we are now living in a trailer that isn’t much bigger than that camper with our youngest grandson. I had hoped we would get a house built before winter but the way the weather is this summer, winter may already be here!

  3. Deb Bosworth says:

    Howdy Alex,
    You have accomplished a lot with your dear hubby and generous friends. Without your sense of adventure and positive attitudes we would be reading a much different post from you today! While we’ve never lived in a yurt, I liken our 391 square foot -off-grid cottage to similar constraints and freedoms! I love BE SHAMELESS… What else can you do when you have three or four people staying in such a small space. There were many summers when our children were small that we gave over the sleeping porch in our cottage to them guinea pigs and all! What a sight…stuffed animals, blankets, lego’s, barbies, art supplies, glow sticks, candy, wet bathing suits and towels, flip flops and, and, and…While we do have solar power, and a flush toilet. It wasn’t always that way. We used to have gas lights, and had to fill a bucket with water to pour down the toilet in the bathroom… Now we have a solar powered pump that pumps gray water from a tank into our toilet so we can flush like the rich folk! Your blog is such an inspiration… Love your posts! Farmgirl hugs, Deg ( the Beach Farmgirl Blogger)

    • Alexandra Wilson says:

      How cool, Deb! I’d love to take a tour of your systems (and maybe some other Farmgirls would too :)) Thanks for the love!

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