Traditionally used as a movable dwelling by nomads in Mongolia, Siberia and Turkey, a yurt is a round structure covered with skins, canvas, or felt. Nowadays they are a popular accommodation for "glampers" and provide an experience that's back in tune with nature without the creature comforts we have become accustomed to - air conditioning, running water, and WiFi to name a few. Off-grid living in a yurt is extremely liberating although at the same time, isolating. There are, of course, precautions you can take to help yourself to survive extreme weather events if you are looking to stay in yurt for a little longer than a weekend.
Open to the Elements
True off-grid living in a yurt requires producing your own power, sourcing your own water, and taking on your own septic solution. Grace Brogan and John Yamman opted to do just that and live in a yurt in one of America's coldest states as a stepping-stone to one day living in their own self-built, off-grid home. In a conversation with Minnesota Public Radio, they revealed that great diligence was required to make sure the fire was going 24 hours a day, and that a thick down blanket and an insulation layer of Reflectix as well as the yurt's canvas enabled them to cope with the extreme cold. Some cold-weather camping gear can easily counteract the five paths to heat loss.
Designed for the Steppes
The traditional circular shape of a yurt allows harsh winds to be reflected around it. Wooden doors and roof enhance its stability. In a strong wind, the sloping roof is aerodynamic so it deters the wind from damaging any of the roof beams. In times of rain, some yurt owners dig trenches around the circumference of their yurt as a makeshift moat to prevent subsistence. The hole in the roof (called the "crown") ensures air can circulate. This is crucial when needing to heat or cool the area inside using a central stove.
The modern yurt can be built using native hardwoods such as ash (or more high-tech materials such as aircraft cables). If you're handy, you can build your own. Otherwise you can order one (and spend up to $50,000 if you want all the bells and whistles)!
Starting a Sustainable Lifestyle
Modern yurts can be a permanent off-grid living solution, particularly for those who yearn for a more sustainable lifestyle. Yurt living for young families immerses children in nature, allowing them access to a greater understanding of their planet and how to look after it. Little yurt stories tells of the ups and downs of living in a yurt as a family. And there are growing communities elsewhere online for people who have shared their yurt successes and learning experiences, particularly with a sustainable approach.
What are you waiting for?
Sally Keys is a professional freelance writer with many years of experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.