GroovyYurts - Authentic Mongolian yurts
Dec 152009

What’s the biggest mistake people make in buying a yurt? The wrong size? No. You can always add a second yurt if the first turns out to be too small. The wrong style? Not usually. Most of the fabric yurts, for example, are pretty similar to each other, and if you’re buying new you usually get to choose your options and customize it to meet your personal needs.

Last winter I heard from someone who purchased a Mongolian import for a rainforest climate–she’s not having much success since that style of yurt wasn’t designed for her climate. But this is relatively uncommon.

Frankly, yurts aren’t that complicated and there aren’t too many mistakes people make, except perhaps overbuying (snow and wind kits where they aren’t necessary) or underbuying (not getting insulation where it would make a big difference). But none of these mistakes is terribly serious.

The most common mistake I see, and the only one that can be truly devastating, is buying from the wrong company. Devastating in the sense of losing your investment (worst case scenario) or dealing with months of headaches in trying to get your yurt set up and perhaps never getting all the right parts.

Most yurt companies are reputable businesses with a solid  product. By far the majority take intense pride in their customer service and your satisfaction. My observation is that even the newest companies (in the middle of their learning curve) will usually bend over backwards to make sure that you are happy with their product and service. Let’s face it–It’s a feel good business and that’s why most people are into it.

However, every once in awhile a company  just doesn’t seem able to perform. Yurts won’t arrive when they are supposed to. You’ll have your platform built but then the yurt doesn’t show up for three months–or sometimes it’s 6 months. Meanwhile your platform is sitting there exposed to weather and the elements. The baby that was supposed to be born three months after the yurt arrives is born in a makeshift RV (yes, that’s a true story) three months before the yurt ever shows up.

Jan 152009

People often ask me about my own story–how I first got involved with yurts, why I wrote the book, and so on. You’ll find part of the story in the “Comfort Zone” column of this month’s Sierra Magazine.

Sierra Magazine

And yes, that’s my yurt in photo on the left–in north Idaho, in the winter. It’s beautiful here!

My yurt is currently on loan to a friend, but I hope to have all the parts back by April so I can get it back up this May. Perhaps some of you can come help me put it up? I think we’ll be putting up a smaller yurt at the same time, maybe a tipi or two as well. We’ll post the dates at See you there!

Home is where the yurt is…


Feb 042008

      One of the questions I get asked the most is, “Do yurts work in cold climates?”

Joining yurts together

Yes they do. All my yurt living has been done in the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, and I’ve found yurts to be very cozy and efficient to heat. Like any home, you have to do some insulating and cover up those drafty spots (I hang recycled theatre curtains over my yurt windows in the winter).

      If you want to get a glimpse of yurt life in a truly cold climate (“Our nighttime temps fall to -25 to -30 F…”), check out the amazing blog Yurts N Dogs, the ongoing story of a yurt family in Alaska. Right now hubby Rick is racing in the Iditarod (dogsled race), so it’s an exciting time to check in.

      And there’s a nice little piece on Mongolian vacation choices and The Concept of Havuu from a travelers’ blog.

      Be warm, be well, and remember…

                        Home is where the yurt is….

Aug 092007

More highlights from my East Coast tour…

When I spoke at Yestermorrow Design Build School in Warren, Vermont, a lovely woman named Renee came up after my talk and told me about seeing some unique yurts in Budapest. For those of you who don’t know, in Hungary yurts are considered a part of their heritage. The yurts (or yurt-inspired buildings) Renee had seen were in a kind of museum park.
I asked Renee to email photos, and here’s what she said:

I found this yurt about 30 minutes outside of Budapest, in a semi-rural neighborhood just outside the Socialist Monument Park. Rather than destroying the statues that commemorated their changing history after the war, the Hungarians raised enough money to collect and transport all the monuments from Budapest (get them out of mind of the population) and re-established them in a large walled park.

In this photo, I’m inside the wall that surrounds the park.

Dec 012006

I had the loveliest dinner last night. A true “Yurt Dinner”, there were three couples who live in yurts, one couple that has spent the last 7 years building a hexagonal, yurt-like strawbale home, and two couples seriously considering yurt living.

Valley view

Kim and Russell, our hosts, recently purchased a magnificent yurt  from a couple in their 70’s (heading south to escape north Idaho’s cold, grey winters). The yurt sits on a bluff with a view of valley and mountains for miles around.