What's it like to live in a yurt in Northern Montana?


That looks like a fairly cash-intensive yurt. How many people could afford to live sustainably off the grid like that?

Everybody yurts, sometimes.


It does look pricey but I bet it wasn’t much more than an average 20% down payment on a house. Not everyone can come up with that but with some careful planning many can.

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Okay, and then what about the rest of the stuff? Food stores, repairs, clothes for kids, all that jazz? I would love to do something like this, but it seems somewhat unsustainable if you don’t already have some plan for long term income.

I remember reading another article on the opinions of camping from non-western/developing countries; many people were all like, “You work hard to get a nice house and home, save up some money, and then blow it on sleeping outside? Why would you do that?”

In many ways, I feel that paeans to living simply and returning to nature are just another manifestation of privilege.

Looks pretty cozy, but is there NO insulation in the roof?

I’m not sure I understand the question. They pay for their yurt and their other expenses the same way everyone else does.

No one said that this couple has quit their jobs. While they may have, there are a great many jobs that can be done remotely. As a software developer, many of my co-workers work at home in different states. Currently, no one is living in a yurt, but they could be.

Looking online, a high-quality yurt seems to cost somewhere in the region of $15,000-20,000. Add in those solar panels and some other yurt-only expenses, and maybe we’re up to $50,000.

I live in Cambridge, MA, and most places around here with far less square footage cost around $500,000. Even with a mortgage, that’s $100,000 down, and you’re making mortgage payments every month.


Nothing wrong with living both (a) off-the-grid and (b) in something akin to luxury. My kids love that “Life Below Zero” show, but if you can manage to make your whole life be Après-ski, why the hell not?


But that’s not “off the grid”; that’s just “off the grid if you can find a remote spot with LTE access”. Even if you are lucky enough to land a telecommuting job that pays the bills, that also means longer trips here and there to pick up supplies, or whatever.

I knew a few people who lived on rural acreages and had to drive to work. That’s two hours in a car every day.

I guess the cynicism underpinning my comments comes from the fact that posts like this (see also small footprint houses) seem a bit elitist at worst, and humble-braggy at best; they often paint a rosy picture of sustainability while ignoring or glossing over many of the barriers that make these types of lifestyles impractical/unattainable for the vast majority of people.


I understand what you mean, but when I read these I personally don’t think that they’re being elitist about their sustainability (because I believe that urban living is much more sustainable, so it barely occurs to me that they would be), but rather just happy and content in their away-from-civilization lifestyle.

I agree that they could have an elitist conception of their own sustainability, but it makes me happier to think that they’re just happy living where they chose to be.


To be brutally honest, I am more than a little envious :wink:

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It’s not a yurt. Not really. Yurts are traditionally for nomadic peoples. The frame would be collapsible, the roof and sides would be felt or leather that can be rolled up. The whole thing is supposed to be transportable. This is just a round cabin. I think it is dandy that they are living life the way they want to, but this article gets noticed because a yurt is promised, and no yurt is delivered.

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What’s your point, that living in America takes money? Sure nobody even the people in the yurt is claiming otherwise.

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I claim otherwise. The money is woo. It could just as easily be magic beans or seashells or anything else. If you can live sufficiently, people aren’t in much of a position to stop you. The money is a tool to draw you into other’s system, and compromise you in the process.

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Right, lemme know how that works out for you once you transcend money. I know you “don’t believe” in money but in the physical world it’s pretty much required unless you like sleeping in gutters and getting stabbed. Or living off other people’s money.

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I’m as big a critic of the dangers of modern globalized capitalism as anyone, but this kind of comment is akin to anti-vaxxers claiming “people did just fine before vaccinations!”

The pre-capitalists who didn’t have to break their back just barely scratching a subsistence lifestyle out of the mud until dying of old age at 50 did just fine… they were priests and/or warlords, and they were supported by peasants and serfs.


I’ve looked into building a well-appointed yurt able to handle New England winters, and the price comes out to be more or less the same price as a trailer in a park.

So pretty cheap, but much nicer than a comparable alternative.

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For example:

Price breakdown 1: The fully-appointed, upscale home on a couple acres:

Here’s a price comparison from a couple different companies:

For a 30’, I’m looking at $15k-$20k. Add another $8k for the decking etc.

The big expense is land, and running utilities. My idea was to look for an abandoned and condemned shack or small house (the semi-rural areas here have several), make an offer, and buldoze it. Being an eyesore, the property is actually worth less than virgin land, and already has utilities run to it. Alternately, $20k for the land, $5k for a well, and $10k for a solar/windmill setup.

Throw in appliances, interior walls, and a few other things, and I’m looking at around $60k. Bear in mind that I live in a really expensive area: A single-wide trailer in a park tends to run $50k-$90k, and $200k is considered quite good for an inexpensive starter home.

Price Breakdown 2: The hippie route summer place:
Because I’m seriously considering chucking it all and going back to when I was the happiest, living in a VW bus and spending winters somewhere warm.

Seek out someone who would let me rent a small corner of their land free or on the cheap. Build everything myself (I’m an experienced woodworker and am pretty handy with a sewing machine). Use recycled/reclaimed materials. Everything is off-grid and breaks down seasonally. Go with something small, maybe 16’-20’.

Deck would be built from a new PT lumber frame with reclaimed pallet wood decking. A small shed-type structure on/adjacent would house the bathroom, kitchen, and provide winter storage- Bathroom inside, kitchen on side, with a folding wall to cover it in the off-season. In the fall, the yurt gets broken down and stored in the bathroom. I believe I can do this with a combination of new and reclaimed materials for under $1500.

Use an RV solar setup ($500) and composting toilet ($2000). Salvage 12v/LPG appliances from a junked camp trailer (free). Non-potable water would be via rainwater collection barrels, or possibly run a hose from the nearby house. Get a 5-gallon water cooler for drinking water, or invest in a good filter system.

For the actual yurt construction, again, with a combination of new and recycled materials, I think I can build the frame for around $400.

Instead of canvas, it would use recycled billboard banners- These are 15’x60’ heavy sign vinyl, and free for the taking. It’s watertight, but doesn’t breathe, so shade and proper ventilation would be super important. I’d also want a cosmetic layer of fabric inside to cover the ad itself.

I think I could pull it off for $5k.


Goddam hippies.

A composting toilet really runs $2k? I am pretty sure I can beat that price (but it won’t be pretty).