A yurt is a very basic, tent-like structure traditionally used for nomadic living. While anyone can choose to live in a yurt, they are especially suitable for those who prefer to live in nature. Buy or build your yurt according to your own needs and standards, and be sure to place your yurt near a clean water source. By putting the time and energy towards building a tiny dwelling, you'll be able to enjoy the simple, sustainable lifestyle that yurts facilitate.

Part 1
Part 1 of 3:

Creating Your Yurt

  1. Building a yurt requires many of the same processes as building a tiny house; the main difference lies in the placement of your yurt (secluded in nature, rather than near civilization). If you're thinking of building a yurt, look into different yurt patterns online, and watch some yurt-building tutorials on YouTube to determine whether or not you're up for the challenge.[1]
  2. If you’re overwhelmed by the task of building a yurt from scratch, you can buy yurt-building kits or pre-made/used yurts. Look online for a yurt or yurt-kit that will suit your lifestyle. Some companies, including Pacific Yurts and Rainier Yurts, are renowned for making high quality yurts.[2]
    • Yurts tend to cost around US$2000 to $6000 to purchase in kit form, and take about two days to assemble.
  3. Before setting up your yurt, be sure that the area is legal for setting up camp. If you do not own the land where you want to place your yurt, you may need planning permission, so check with your local municipality for the ins and outs of part- or full-time yurt living. You should also make sure that the regional area is not at risk for flash flooding or excessive snowfall. [3]
    • Opt for a location below the brow of a hill. If possible, setting up your yurt at the base of a large hill will help protect your yurt from winds.
  4. Place your yurt near a clean water supply. For the sake of cooking and cleaning, it’s best to have your yurt situated near a clean water source. If this isn’t possible, consider investing in a small rainwater tank, or an appropriate system for roof-top water collection.
  5. Most yurts are built over decks, cinder block piers, or some other solid structure that elevates the floor of your dwelling from the earth. If you can afford to buy or build a deck, these structures are recommended for their dual function as places to sit, barbecue, and hang clothes.[4]
    • Consider building a portable deck. That way, if you get the nomadic itch, your deck can come with you.
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Part 2
Part 2 of 3:

Installing Basic Necessities

  1. Although your yurt is no mansion, you’ll want to furnish it with several pieces of useful, comfortable items to accommodate your daily life. Consider adding a table and chairs, a bed, a bookshelf, and a comfortable reading chair. If you don't want to add a real bed, use a camp stretcher, foldaway, or inflatable bed.
  2. You'll need to eat, and even if much of your food is from the result of foraging, you'll also need to cook. Find a suitable gas or wood fueled stove that can double up as a heating item in the yurt, such as a pot-bellied stove.
    • Be sure to vent the stove outside through one wall of the yurt, as unvented stove will create dangerous fumes within the yurt. You might need a professional to help you install this part of the yurt.
    • Consider bringing a propane barbecue to keep outside your yurt as an additional tool for cooking.
  3. Create an outhouse. You will need a way to use the toilet, and while some people opt for outdoor plumbing, natural forms of human composting are more common amongst yurt-dwellers. It's best to place your toilet downwind from the yurt or some distance from it so that the odor and flies don't enter your yurt.[5]
  4. Construct a bath or shower area. You can create a simple shower contraption by rigging a tree with a bucket or plastic bag, and using solar power to heat the water. You can also bath in clean streams or lakes nearby, or by heating water and filling a large tub near your yurt.[6]
    • It's also a good idea to have a general washing area for dirty gear and items. Most clothes items can be washed by hand until they're heavily soiled, so you can supplement hand-washing with monthly trips to a laundromat.
  5. If you want, there are a number of possible ways to get internet to your yurt, including cable, satellite, rural broadband on an FM signal, or 3G Wi-Fi. Select the option most appropriate for your location.[7]
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Part 3
Part 3 of 3:

Living Sustainably

  1. You can bring electricity to your yurt by running a line from a main supply to your yurt, or by using a generator. Because this option tends to be expensive, and requires the greatest volume of electrical power, it is the least advisable option for powering your yurt.
  2. If you have access to solar or wind energy devices and storage batteries, these are great tools to power your yurt. Although solar/wind power devices are often expensive, these investments are more environmentally friendly than generators.[8]
  3. Find a source of lumber and build outdoor fires. Building fires can provide a steady source of energy for heating your yurt and cooking meals. If you’re using wood as your primary source of heating energy, and you’re living in a colder environment, expect to go through about 3.5-4 cords of wood. Building fires can also help supplement any of the other energy sources listed above.[9]
  4. While the dome at the top of your yurt will allow for plenty of light during the day, you’ll need a light-source for nighttime hours. Find suitable gas, battery, or LED lamps that are safe to have inside tents, and keep some candles nearby for emergencies.
  5. next to your yurt. If you’re committed to a sustainable lifestyle, a well-maintained vegetable garden can provide a complete food supply for you and your other yurt residents. You might also consider a keeping a few animals as well, for milk, eggs, and even meat.[10]
    • Compost all your kitchen and food scraps and use the compost pile to nourish your garden.
  6. Your yurt will be a cozy haven away from the hustle and bustle of urban lifestyles, and you’ll soon learn to appreciate the joys of self-sufficiency that come from living in nature.
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  • Yurts require constant maintenance to keep them safe and workable. If you’re not up for this amount of ongoing work, perhaps the yurt is not for you.
  • Obey all relevant planning laws or you might have to disassemble your yurt.
  • If you live in your yurt through winter and it rains a lot, expect to traipse in mud; it's unavoidable.[11]

Things You'll Need

  • Yurt
  • Furniture
  • Floor coverings
  • Heating
  • Compost toilet
  • Solar power shower
  • Garden tools and plants
  • Optional shed/garage

About This Article

Guy Gabay
Co-authored by:
Solar Energy Contractor
This article was co-authored by Guy Gabay. Guy Gabay is a Solar Energy Contractor and the CEO of AmeriGreen Builders, a full-service solar energy, roofing, HVAC and window installation company based in the greater Los Angeles, California region. With over eight years of experience in the construction industry, Guy leads the AmeriGreen team focusing on bringing an educational approach to energy efficient home upgrades. Guy holds a B.S. in Marketing from California State University - Northridge. This article has been viewed 261,295 times.
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Co-authors: 24
Updated: May 4, 2023
Views: 261,295
Article SummaryX

Living in a yurt requires a few lifestyle changes, but it can be a lot cheaper, calmer, and more sustainable than living in a house. You’ll need to find a safe spot near a clean water supply where you can legally set up your home. If you don’t have any experience building homes, you can buy pre-made yurts and get them constructed for you. You can furnish large yurts with most of the home comforts of a house or apartment, like sofas, beds, desks, and dining tables, although it’s best to find multi-purpose furniture. You can use a gas or wood fueled-stove for cooking and heating and solar panels to power your electrical appliances. If you don’t have a bathroom inside your yurt, invest in an outdoor compost toilet and a water heater for showers and baths. For more tips, including how to get internet connection in a yurt, read on!

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