How to live in a yurt

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What is a Yurt? A yurt is a round-shaped portable home that originated from nomads in Mongolia and other parts of Central Asia. In Mongolia, the yurt is called “ger” [gher]. The terms “yurt” and “ger” are interchangeable and describe the traditional portable Mongolian habitation consisting of a wooden frame and felt walls. Yurts (gers) are designed to be easy to take apart, transport, and reconstruct. Despite this portability, they are warm enough to keep the coldest winter temperatures at bay and strong enough to withstand strong winds and the demands of a whole family.

How to live in a yurt

The yurt (ger) is built using a wooden, accordion frame that can be easily taken down, made compact for carrying, and reassembled. On this frame are placed two to three layers of felt, traditionally made from sheep’s wool, and an outer layer of waterproof canvas. The felt and canvas are secured to the wooden frame and the resulting structure can stand securely in one place for months or even years at a time.

The wooden frame of the yurt (ger) is held together by opposing stresses designed into the structure and by horse, yak and camel hair straps. A central column holds up the struts of the roof, which fan out from an opening that accommodates a stove pipe and can be opened up to the elements on a warm day or covered in the event of rain or cold temperatures. The lower sides of the outer wrapping of the yurt can also be raised to allow air to circulate freely to cool the interior on warm days. Please check this page to see components of the yurt.

How to live in a yurt

How to live in a yurt

If you have been to Mongolia, you will surely already have an idea of how you wish to use a yurt. However, we would like to provide some ideas on how a yurt (ger) might contribute to your lifestyle for those who do not have this experience. Although nomads in Mongolia use yurts all year round in temperatures as low as -35 and as high as +40 degrees Celsius, we recommend using yurts (gers) in temperatures between about -10 and +30 degrees Celsius as it takes special care and expertise to keep the interior of a yurt warm during conditions colder than -10 degrees Celcius.

A yurt provides not only the atmosphere of a nomadic lifestyle but has many practical and enjoyable uses for people in around the World.

A Mongolian ger (yurt) makes an ideal second or holiday home in part because it can be put to many uses. One of practical ways to make use of a yurt is as a pavilion in a backyard or another spot. The ease with which air circulates through a yurt makes it cool in summer and it can also be made warm when the temperatures begin to fall. You can use a smaller yurt as a bedroom and view the stars in the night sky through the opening in the roof. A yurt can just as easily be used as a kitchen or dining room or a combination of the two; you could even try cooking Mongolian-style barbecue in your Mongolian ger. A yurt can be used as a dining pavilion, a marquee for a family event, or as a playhouse for children. We recommend our paint-decorated or carved yurts with 5 or 6 wall panels for these kinds of uses.

Yurts can be put to use as the site of a small business or a classroom for seminars and workshops. Yurts are environmentally friendly structures and are perfect for use as temporary housing, glamping, a small shop, a festival structure, a guest house, or a holiday home. For this type of use we recommend our paint-decorated or carved yurts 6, 7, 8 and 10 wall panels.

A Mongolian yurt (ger) can also be used to provide space for a variety of activities for companies offering recreational services, and they will be a point of interest for patrons. As you may have seen in Mongolia, yurts are commonly used to provide bungalow-type accommodation at tourist camps in the countryside. Yurts are used not only as accommodation but also as restaurants, shops and museums in the land of their origin. If you are interested in using a yurt for a business such as pub and restaurant, we recommend yurts with 10 wall panels or larger. An original Mongolian yurt with ten wall panels will contain approximately 20 restaurant tables with five seats each.

In modern days, there are two main types of yurts. First type includes essentially the same yurt that have been used by Mongolian nomads thousands of years. These traditional yurts are portable, eco-friendly (with zero foot print on earth) and made of mostly natural products such as wood, sheep wool felt and cotton. Traditional Mongolian yurts have lots of characters, and are great for anyone who wants to feel closer to mother Earth. We at Original Yurts are make and worldwide supplier of these traditional yurts with various modifications made to improve functionality and durability of the yurts in non-Mongolian climate.

How to live in a yurt

If you’re interested in living in a yurt and what it’s like, then I’m here to give some advice.

Personally, I first became fascinated with this lifestyle when backpacking in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia.

In those two countries (as well as others) the yurt tent (called a ‘ger’ in Mongolia) is the traditional abode of the nomadic people there.

It’s a fascinating way of traditional living going back millennia and if you’re thinking of planning to live off-the-grid, then it makes an excellent option for a place to stay.

Getting back to a traditional way of life and an eco-friendly living solution.

How to live in a yurt

Living in a Yurt

How to live in a yurt

OK a disclaimer straight away at the start: I am not an expert about living in a yurt or living off-the-grid.

But I do have a huge passion for the subject, have traveled to countries like mentioned (Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia) and have stayed with the nomads that still live their way of life in yurts, and also stayed with people and friends that live off-the-grid.

I have spent a lot of time researching how to live in a yurt as it’s something I have thought about doing, and how to get more off-the-grid.

With nomads in Kyrgyzstan living their traditional way of life in a yurt.

How to live in a yurt

How To Build A Yurt

First up if you plan on living in a yurt is knowing how to build a yurt!

Building a yurt is definitely best of as a team as there are a few different stages that can be tricky.

There will be the mainframe and then the canvas covering for that.

Of course, it will be slightly different yurts you get in countries that don’t traditionally use them, but the principle is the same.

You can either build one from scratch yourself or buy a kit.

Naturally one of the most important things, in the beginning, is choosing the right ground for it.

In the nomadic countries, the ‘base’ of the yurt is just some simple canvas with maybe a few rugs over the top, keeping it simple for moving around.

In other countries though where you may want to permanently have a yurt and not move around then you can go about building a wooden base and porch to make it more homely.

One thing to note is that as most nomads move with the seasons from place to place they are generally free to camp in many places with no problem.

In other countries though (like the US) there will be a lot of private lands so make sure where you choose to set up camp you can do so legally.

After you’ve figured out the base of where you want to build your yurt you then get the basic structure together.

In traditionally nomadic countries this is normally strips of wood tangled/hammered together, but in other countries, it can be a full wooden wall.

How one couple built their dream space from scratch.

Published on October 29, 2019

After a year spent living on the road, traveling around the country in a van he had renovated to function as his mobile home, Zach Both decided it was time to put down roots. But he wasn’t quite ready to abandon his days spent close to nature for something totally traditional. The way he bid farewell to his nomadic lifestyle was, ironically, by building a structure that was historically largely used by nomads; Both and his girlfriend, Nicole Lopez, constructed a yurt.

While the structure is a glamping mainstay , it can be used for everyday life, too. A yurt-building kit will get you started, but if you want to make it more of a home and less of an extra-large tent, you’ll have to invest money and time (in the case of Both and Lopez, six months) into installing proper plumbing and electricity, putting up drywall, and picking out 100 or so plants to really make it feel like a breath of fresh air. With all that effort behind him, Both is convinced that more people should attempt yurt life (which is why he documented the process for his DoItYurtself guide). Here, he explains why.

Yurts Are the Ultimate DIY Project

After renovating the camper van, Both felt prepared to build a yurt, but still, it was daunting in the beginning. “When we showed up to the land that we were going to be building this on, it was overgrown with blackberries and just a pile of dirt,” he says. But as it turns out, the project isn’t that intimidating in practice.

Both bought his yurt kit from Rainier Outdoor , then set to work creating the platform it would sit on—a process that required him (and a few friends and family members) to dig holes for 12 concrete footings by hand. They were able to get the exterior structure up in just one weekend, even though most everyone involved had hardly any construction experience beyond assembling IKEA furniture. “Once it was done, we all pulled out our sleeping bags and slept in the completely empty yurt to celebrate,” Both says.

How to live in a yurt Photo by Bryan Aulick

Over the next few months, they completed the more arduous tasks: adding the loft, modern appliances, and furniture that made it into a home. Though arduous, Both says the satisfaction afterward is incomparable: “The experience of building your own living space, whether it’s a yurt or a van or a tiny house or even a regular house, fundamentally changes not only how you look at your own home, but how you look at the buildings around you. You notice all the little construction details everywhere you go and start to appreciate them a lot more.”

They’re Easy to Customize

Bohemian or rustic design details may come to mind most frequently when you think of yurts, but Both and Lopez wanted a space that, although nontraditional in structure, felt modern. The toughest challenge was making it feel less like a tent and more like a home—but the solution was quite simple.

IKEA c abinets made for a clean, contemporary kitchen that you’d find in any regular apartment, an d limiting the color palette kept the space streamlined—a sharp contrast to the typical warm tones and unfinished wood you might find in a less permanent yurt. A simple coat of white paint to the yurt’s signature lattice was all it took to help the skeleton blend in with the rounded walls.

They’re Really Not That Small

While yurts might appeal to people who dream of downsizing (or, like Both, those who find appeal in #VanLife), they’re actually pretty spacious. “This yurt is the size of my first apartment,” he says. “I think the main attraction is not necessarily small living but alternative living .”

Staying in a yurt gives Both and Lopez the chance to live in close proximity to the great outdoors (which is pretty picturesque in their location of Portland, Oregon)—indoors and out. While the whole space is filled with hard-to-kill plants, their loft bedroom takes the cake. “It’s like our own little oasis on the top,” he says. “Especially when we wake up to the sunshine coming through the dome.”

Maybe it’s time to reconsider that tiny home in favor of something a little more well-rounded—literally.

How to live in a yurtIn August, we wrote about how to keep your yurt cool in the summer. Now, as chilly mornings and changing leaves signal winter’s approach, we’re turning our attention to having a cozy, warm yurt environment in the winter months. While you may assume that yurts are hard to heat, as they lack solid walls, yurts are actually designed for energy efficiency.

Today, modern technologies allow yurt owners to feel comfortable, regardless of the weather outside. Let’s take a look at how you can successfully heat your yurt this winter.

Staying Warm this Winter: Yurts and Heating Technology

Opt for Custom Yurt Features for Winter Conditions

If you haven’t yet ordered your yurt, ensure you choose options for heating. If you already have a yurt, consider adding these amenities:

  • Insulation. Our seven-layer reflective insulation was developed by NASA. We create an attractive interior finish by covering the insulation with ivory-colored fabric.
  • Insulated Window Covers. We offer easy-on, easy-off insulated window covers for our fabric windows that are made of the same reflective insulation.
  • Stove flashing. Our double metal flashing allows a stovepipe to exit through the side cover. It’s available in a wide range of sizes to accommodate most stoves.
  • Fan Support. Allows the installation of a ceiling fan in the center of the yurt to increase air circulation and push heat down toward the living space.

Add Conventional, Radiant, or Solar Heating

How to live in a yurtHeating approaches that work in traditional buildings also work for yurts. Ducts for heat pumps and central heating systems may be installed beneath the yurt’s floor or ductless heat pumps may be used. Propane stoves, pellet stoves, and wood stoves will also work, but should be vented through the wall rather than the roof, as this will make it easier to clean the chimney while also minimizing the chance of roof damage by venting embers. Electric heaters are also popular, assuming you’ve added an electrical system. Radiant heating, via below-floor or wall units, is a wonderful way to heat yurts as well. Finally, some use solar power to heat their yurts in appropriate conditions with modest heating requirements.

Whatever option you select, remember that it is always best to have two heating sources. For instance, if your heating system uses electricity, it’s smart to have a wood stove as well for times when the electrical grid is out or have a generator on hand.

Eliminate Heat Leaks

As in all structures, a tight building envelope will minimize heat loss. Installing foam weather-stripping to the underside of the top cover valance and between the side cover and platform will fill possible air gaps. Making sure the side cover is tight around the circumference and cinching the top cover valance cord will go a long way towards sealing air gaps as well. Finally, energetic yurt owners may wedge custom cut foam board between the rafters to further reduce heat loss.

Place the Yurt with Winter Conditions in Mind

How to live in a yurtIf you are still in the construction phase, be sure to consider how to locate your yurt for cozy winter conditions. Look for a spot that is protected from the strongest winds. Place the door so that it faces away from the area’s most prevalent winds. Finally, seek a spot with some winter sunshine, as this can provide passive heating for your yurt. Deciduous trees can provide shade in summer, but allow passive heating in winter.

Insulate the floor

Heat may be lost through the yurt floor unless you add insulation. A good way to do this is to install rigid foam insulation between floor joists. Installing plywood skirting around the perimeter of the platform will also aid with insulation by stopping cold air from flowing beneath the floor. Fiberglass batting is not recommended because it is more attractive to rodents for nesting material.


Add a Ceiling Fan

How to live in a yurtOur fan support will allow you to equip your yurt with a ceiling fan, one of the most useful tools for controlling temperature year-round. How does this work? Remember that heat rises. As such, the air you heat will move upward toward the dome. A ceiling fan will push that heated air downward, keeping your family and friends warm while maximizing your energy efficiency.

Yurts make wonderful structures for a variety of uses, and we are passionate about helping people achieve comfort in their yurt dwellings. Contact us today to chat about yurt heating options.

View our checklist for preparing your yurt for severe winds below and download the PDF here

by Fortress Yurts on April 23, 2013

How to live in a yurt

Yurt Living and deep snow can go hand in hand, and yet there are things that need to be understood about this relationship.

We would like to help people that are embarking upon Yurt Living to be sufficiently educated about what they are getting into so that they will have positive experiences!

OK, lets talk about snow. We lived in Yurts for almost seven years in NW Montana. My children were very young when we began our Yurt Living journey. It was important to me to create a comfortable and safe home. We did this and had a wonderful experience!

We insulated our Yurts well and also added snow load supports. Also, we learned from our experiences and we upgraded our Yurt design so that a Yurt could tolerate extreme weather conditions.

First, I’d like to make it clear that the smaller Yurts are a better idea in areas where you will get large amounts of snow all at once. Please understand that the ski adventure outfitters that place Yurts out in the mountains in the Rocky Mountains and also in the Northwest use the smaller Yurts for this purpose. Their Yurts are often totally buried in snow! Small Yurts set up properly can tolerate this! The outfitters that I have personally talked with use both the 16 ft. and 20 ft. Yurts for this purpose.

Yes, we lived in large Yurts in the Rocky Mountains where we had potential to receive a decent amount of snow. The most snow that we got in a winter was about four feet. The most that we got in one snowfall was about two feet. When I woke up in the morning and there was a lot of snow on the roof, I would go out with a broom and knock off as much snow as I could reach around the perimeter of the Yurts. We were always home, and were able to keep the fire going (which melted some of the snow on the roof) as well as physically knock off as much as we could.

If I were going to set up a Yurt in the mountains as a get away place where I would not be present except on weekends or special occasions, I would definitely set up one of the smaller Yurts. If I wanted more space, I would add more Yurts. I would add the snow and wind kit, and make sure that all reinforcements were in place. (All of our Yurts come with rafter brackets and also each rafter has a pre-drilled hole at the cable end so that you can easily set a keeper screw on that end so the rafter will stay on the cable in the event of big winds.)

How to live in a yurt

You can live luxuriously in them…

Maybe you’ve been pitching your yurt on campsites across the country or all over the world.

Maybe you’re new to the wide world of yurts and are interested to learn more.

Either way, you’re sufficiently charmed and interested to be thinking about making the leap towards living in your yurt for an extended period of time.

Is it a good idea to live in a Yurt?

As with so many choices in life, there isn’t a clear Yes or No answer.

Rather, there are distinct pros and cons which you’ll want to weigh before determining whether living in a yurt is right for you.

Pro: Bottom Platform

One of the big drawbacks to pitching a traditional tent is the fact that it doesn’t have any bottom platform, meaning that you’re stuck having to deal with soil and bugs.

While that might make for a fun night of “roughing it” whilst camping, chances are that isn’t something you’ll want to live with for the long term.

Yurts, by contrast, offer a bottom platform, meaning you won’t have to worry about that.

What’s more, because these bottom platforms don’t dig into the soil like traditional tent poles, and it doesn’t require unearthing the ground like a home’s foundations, yurts are arguably eco-friendlier.

Con: Thin Walls

Yurts certainly aren’t designed with soundproofing in mind.

If you live in a yurt, you’ll hear everyone and everything else around you.

What’s more, while top-tier yurts can feature thick, durable walls, it’s still easier to rip through any kind of fabric than it is to bust through a typical home’s walls.

All it takes is one rip or hole to expose your interior and any possessions you may have with you to “the great outdoors” in a not so great way.

Pro: Portable Living

One of the obvious upsides to living in a yurt is the fact that it’s a portable home.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to pull up stakes and hit the road on a regular basis, having something like a yurt that’s portable, while still being relatively spacious, can feel quite liberating.

Con: Nomadic Living

On the other hand, maybe you’re not such a fan of the kind of impermanence portable living implies.

These were dwellings first developed by Central Asian nomads, after all.

If you want to own the land on which you live or don’t like the idea of nomadic living, this may not be an option for you.

Pro: Low Cost

With the cost of a home less palatable for today’s workers than past generations, yurts represent a far more affordable housing option.

If you don’t mind the single room setup, the one-time cost of only a few thousand dollars for a top-tier yurt may feel like a bargain.

Con: Less Privacy

As with so much in life, however, you get what you pay for – or, in this case, don’t pay for.

With that thin exterior and a lack of any locks, alarms, or home security systems, you won’t get much privacy or have a way to keep your possessions locked away from would-be burglars.

Ultimately, whether a yurt is right for you depends on what you’re looking for in a place to call home.

Shaun Bird, Owner of Gazebo Jungle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. 2019 Gazebojungle.com. All rights reserved.

How to live in a yurt

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by Fortress Yurts on April 23, 2013

How to live in a yurt

Yurt Living and deep snow can go hand in hand, and yet there are things that need to be understood about this relationship.

We would like to help people that are embarking upon Yurt Living to be sufficiently educated about what they are getting into so that they will have positive experiences!

OK, lets talk about snow. We lived in Yurts for almost seven years in NW Montana. My children were very young when we began our Yurt Living journey. It was important to me to create a comfortable and safe home. We did this and had a wonderful experience!

We insulated our Yurts well and also added snow load supports. Also, we learned from our experiences and we upgraded our Yurt design so that a Yurt could tolerate extreme weather conditions.

First, I’d like to make it clear that the smaller Yurts are a better idea in areas where you will get large amounts of snow all at once. Please understand that the ski adventure outfitters that place Yurts out in the mountains in the Rocky Mountains and also in the Northwest use the smaller Yurts for this purpose. Their Yurts are often totally buried in snow! Small Yurts set up properly can tolerate this! The outfitters that I have personally talked with use both the 16 ft. and 20 ft. Yurts for this purpose.

Yes, we lived in large Yurts in the Rocky Mountains where we had potential to receive a decent amount of snow. The most snow that we got in a winter was about four feet. The most that we got in one snowfall was about two feet. When I woke up in the morning and there was a lot of snow on the roof, I would go out with a broom and knock off as much snow as I could reach around the perimeter of the Yurts. We were always home, and were able to keep the fire going (which melted some of the snow on the roof) as well as physically knock off as much as we could.

If I were going to set up a Yurt in the mountains as a get away place where I would not be present except on weekends or special occasions, I would definitely set up one of the smaller Yurts. If I wanted more space, I would add more Yurts. I would add the snow and wind kit, and make sure that all reinforcements were in place. (All of our Yurts come with rafter brackets and also each rafter has a pre-drilled hole at the cable end so that you can easily set a keeper screw on that end so the rafter will stay on the cable in the event of big winds.)

How to live in a yurt

How to live in a yurt

How to live in a yurt

How to live in a yurt

How to live in a yurt

Living in a yurt in Europe and Central Asia

Yurt Living in Central Asia

No-one knows when people started living in yurts. Nomadic peoples leave few records of their passing. Bronze age petroglyphs from Siberia appear to show yurts, so it is reasonable to assume that they have been in use from many thousands of years. The geographical distribution of yurts is no coincidence. The yurt is perfectly suited to the nomadic lifestyle in the most extreme climates. Nomadsm is practiced in areas that are either too dry or too cold to grow crops succesfully. Farmers or people who are nomadic during the summer months could not justify the expense of a yurt, a permanent house is easier to build and better suited if it does not need to be moved. And a simple tent is all that is required for hearding animals in summer pastures. Where nomadic hearding is a year-round occupation, making a moveable tent the family home only a yurt will offer sufficient portable protection from the extreme climate.

To this day Millions of people throughout Central Asia are born, grow old and die in yurts as they move from pasture to pasture following routes set out by their ancestors centuries ago. The shape of the yurt varies from region to region. The Mongolian ger has a heavy timber crown, straight roof poles and a fairly low roof, to offer protection from high winds, retain heat, and make use of the timber from the larch and birch forests of Northerm Mongolia. The Bentwood yurts of Kazakhstan use frames of willow which is easy to bend to shape, but retain the low roof which offers protection form high winds and reduces heat loss. The Kyrgyz yurt resembles the Kazakh yurt, but has a tall steep roof better suited to the warmer, wetter and less windy climate.

Paradoxically the makers of these yurts are not nomads. They live in permanent houses attached to the workshop where the yurts are made. Yurt frames are always made by skilled craftsmen. The covers may be made by the yurt maker and his family, or by the nomads themselves.

Yurt Living in Europe

Many people live in yurts in the UK US and Europe. The yurt is warm, dry comfortable and secure. Living in the yurt one is aware of the weather, the changing seasons, the surrounding countryside and wildlife and ones place in the ecosystem in a way that no house dweller can ever be. However living in a yurt is not like living in a house. All of the luxuries of a house are available to the yurt dweller, but a little more thought and effort is required. It is interesting to discover how one can live off-grid making ones own heat light, electricity and responsibly disposing of ones waste. In a very short time the countryside and the wildlife cease to be something separate to view as an outsider. One becomes a part of the landscape and a part of the surrounding ecosystem. The neighbours are the birds, the foxes and deer who soon grow familiar and less fearful of the new creatures living among them in their big white nest.

The yurt is not a permanent building, some people do put up their yurt and leave it there for years on end. However this is missing the point. The beauty of a yurt is its portability. If a yurt is lived in it will last many, many years in one place. However if it is left empty in a damp wood the cover can be ruined in less than a year. If the yurt is for summer use, bring it in for the winter. If you just want another room to store things buy a shed.