A yurt is a temporary structure that’s circular in shape with a dome top.
Traditional yurts were used by nomadic peoples living in the steppes of Central Asia. Modern yurts are constructed with different materials and can be used for camping or permanent living.
Yurts can cost anywhere between $6,000 and $80,000 depending on the type of yurt, its size, location, and amenities.
Luxury yurts with upgraded insulation, exterior decks, glass windows, and other extra features can cost thousands of dollars.
Traditional yurts that include basic materials and features usually don’t cost any more than $20,000. Smaller yurts between 8-14 ft (2.4-4.3 m) in diameter can cost less than $10,000 for base models.
Adding amenities and modern features to yurts can increase the price. Buying the pieces separately to construct a yurt can cost more than buying a yurt kit with basic materials.
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What is a Yurt?
A yurt is a temporary or semi-permanent structure that’s round in shape. It consists of latticework that forms the frame. Yurts have self-supporting roofs and an open space layout.
Yurts originated from Central Asia by nomadic peoples who lived on the steppes. In this region, it’s commonly called a Mongolian ger.
Yurt derives from the Russian term yurta. Mongolian gers have been around for thousands of years. The founder and emperor of Mongolia, Genghis Khan, was known to stay in a ger.
Dismantling yurts was easy for nomadic herders to move from one place to another. It only took about 1-3 hours to rebuild a yurt at another site.
Traditional yurts are made from a latticework of wood, a door, roof poles, or rafters. Yurts also have a ring called a crown that connects to the roof poles. Felt made from sheep wool was used as the outside material that stretched over the structural latticework.
Yurts are ideal for the conditions of the Central Asian steppes. More felt is added to help insulate yurts during colder months.
An opening is left at the top to allow air to circulate and smoke to escape. The round shape and dome top helps wind pass over them, preventing major damage.
Yurts became popular in the United States thanks to William S. Coperthwaite. He is often named for pioneering yurt building in the US in the 1960s.
Pacific Yurts, Inc. became the first yurt company in America. They modernized the yurt and continue to sell yurt kits with customizable options and add-ons.
With an increased interest in nomadic living and downsizing, yurts have become more popular in recent years. Although simple modern yurts may resemble traditional yurts, many amenities and material options are available for yurt building.
What Are the Benefits of Living in a Yurt?
Yurts can be beneficial for several reasons, including environmentally and economically. It’s a different way of living than many people are used to. Some of the benefits of living in a yurt can include the following:
- Lower cost than a conventional home
- Cheaper labor and maintenance costs
- Little waste from construction
- Less impact on the environment
- Lower energy costs
- Portability and simplicity
Yurts are very flexible in terms of portability and interior design. You can do many things with the open space of a yurt. It also encourages people to live with minimal possessions.
Most yurts are portable. Some may be built as permanent structures and aren’t meant to be moved often.
Portable yurts offer flexibility in where you can live. Living in a remote location in a yurt can also be a more immersive experience that allows you to connect with the natural world.
A lot of materials go into constructing conventional homes. Basic yurts don’t need nearly as many materials, which helps reduce the amount of waste from constructing one. Overall, yurts are affordable in the grand scheme of how much conventional homes cost.
The national average for building a house is about $282,299. Due to fluctuating material and labor costs, this number can be higher or lower depending on several factors.
On the lower end, an 800 square feet (74 sq m) home can cost around $80,000 to build.
It typically costs no more than $80,000 on the high end to construct a yurt with amenities and add-ons. Depending on the style of yurt, little maintenance is needed for upkeep.
How Much Does a Yurt Cost?
A yurt’s average cost can range between $6,000 to $80,000. This is a huge gap, but there are many things that you can add onto a yurt that hikes up the price.
Yurt kits are available for easy setup. These kits usually come with standard features, including the lattice wall, rafters, crown, tension cables, door, side cover, and hardware.
Building a yurt from scratch can be more costly than buying a kit. A modern yurt kit often has customizable features that can be manufactured before being shipped off to its owner.
A yurt that’s 12 ft (3.7 m) in diameter with basic features may cost between $6,000 and $8,000.
Larger yurts can be 30 ft (9 m) in diameter or more. Large yurts with basic features can cost $15,000 or more. Yurts need to be placed on a platform. Constructing the platform of a yurt adds to labor and material costs.
Additional labor costs can include assembling the yurt if one decides to not construct it themselves. Extra amenities or features that add to the price include weather packages for further stability, heating and cooling, appliances, and more.
The location also plays a factor in how much a yurt can cost. If your site is in a remote location, shipping the materials to the site might be more costly. Building permits and land clearing might add to the cost as well.
How Much Does it Cost to Build a Yurt?
The cost to build a yurt can depend on whether you buy a yurt kit or build one from scratch. Smaller yurt kits that come with basic features will be cheaper. Small yurts can be 12 ft in diameter or less.
A yurt that’s 12 ft in diameter is around 115 square ft (10.7 sq m). Prices for yurts this size can vary between yurt manufacturers. But the average price to build a small yurt is typically between $6,000 and $8,000 with standard features.
If you customize it and purchase add-on features, the price can be hundreds to thousands of dollars more.
Medium-sized yurts range from 14-24 ft (4.3-7.3 m) to 154-452 sq ft. Large yurts can be 30 ft in diameter (707 sq ft or 65.7 sq m) or more.
Traditional yurts or gers were made of natural materials. Modern yurts can be made of various materials that make them sturdy. This could include aircraft steel tension cables and vinyl and polyester fabric.
Building a yurt from scratch can cost as much as $80,000 if it’s large and has a kitchen, bath, and additional amenities.
On the lower end, building a yurt can cost around $10,000 or less. Yurts need a base platform to be built on. A basic yurt platform can cost as little as $3,000. Hi-tech platforms can cost upwards of $14,000.
Most modern yurts are made of wood, metal, and fabric. There’s a long list of add-ons that you can choose to customize a yurt. Some common add-ons include:
- Extra insulation
- Glass windows
- Upgraded door (custom wood or french doors)
- Kitchen and bathroom
- Exterior deck
- Weather kits
Adding a kitchen and bathroom to a yurt may cost just as much, if not more, than the yurt kit or building expenses. Extra amenities can range from a few hundred to thousands of dollars.
Overall, the price of a yurt largely depends on how large it is, the type of building materials, its location, and features added from the basic model.
If someone intends to use a yurt for off-grid living, alternative resources for plumbing and energy might be considered. Additional living space and extra amenities help with more comfortable living.
With all these factors considered, it can cost an average of $20,000 to $40,000 to construct a modern yurt, assuming some extra features are added. This cost can be much lower or higher, depending on various preferences and what their yurt will be used for.
Standard yurt models can be more simplistic for temporary use, such as seasonal camping. Making a yurt a permanent residence can be more costly.
Standard Features vs. Add-On Features
Yurts in kit form come with basic features and building materials to construct the temporary structure. Additional features can be added to make a yurt more comfortable, and preferences based on living intent play a role.
If you want to permanently live in a yurt, there are many different things you can customize, such as additional wall features, windows, and stoves. Fabric windows with vinyl frames are pretty standard for base models.
You might choose to keep plastic windows or upgrade to glass windows. Yurts can also be customized for different types of weather.
Yurts are a great off-grid living home since they’re easy to construct. If you build a yurt in a remote location, you might need to turn to alternative resources for water.
Harvesting rainwater can be a great water collection system. But each state has different laws for collecting rainwater. Some states or local areas put a cap on how much rainwater you can collect for storage. It can be completely illegal to collect rainwater in some areas.
Choosing customizable features of a yurt is very similar to choosing amenities for a traditional home. It largely depends on individual preferences and the intended purpose of the yurt.
Where Can You Build a Yurt?
Yurts still need to follow building codes according to local and state regulations. Some yurts are built on campsites. These yurts are usually portable and can be put together and taken down within a day.
Laws for a yurt to be a permanent residence can differ depending on where you live. Some places only allow yurts to be used as temporary homes.
Jefferson County, Washington, only allows canvas yurts to be used as temporary living quarters. They’re also not allowed to have plumbing and are subject to size restrictions.
Temporary yurts that meet building codes for this area can be no more than 500 sq ft (46.5 sq m). Energy code and safety requirements play a factor in how a yurt can be used.
According to Yurts of America, Alaska is one of the most yurt-friendly states. Permits for electrical and plumbing installation may be needed if you plan on adding these features.
Looking at the codes and regulations for yurt construction for the area where you plan to set up your yurt can help determine where to place a yurt.
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How Much Does it Cost to Maintain a Yurt?
The initial expenses of buying and building a yurt are the bulk of how much you’ll spend on it. Yurts are low maintenance compared to conventional homes. Yurts should be cleaned with mild soap and water once or twice a year to help maintain them.
Most yurts can go 10 years or more without needing replacements or repairs. However, this can vary depending on the materials used to construct it and the conditions it must withstand.
Replacing or upgrading essential parts of a yurt can be costly. But these things may be added over long periods. The average cost to live in a yurt per month can vary depending on size and location.
Property taxes and other fees can vary depending on where you live. It can cost around $200-$600 per month to live in a yurt. Luxury yurts with additional utilities, rooms, and other features can cost even more.
When you consider the costs of owning a conventional home versus a yurt, it’s a drastic difference.
Repairs and upgrades made on yurts every few years or longer can be cheaper than the total annual expenses of owning a conventional home.
The median sales price of a single-family home in January 2022 was $360,700. With this in mind, a yurt’s initial costs and maintenance expenses are much lower.
What Are the Different Types of Yurts?
Yurts are typically described as traditional and modern. Traditional yurts reflect the origins of nomadic peoples that used basic materials to construct temporary, portable living spaces.
Modern yurts stray away from the natural materials used for traditional yurts. They typically use stronger and more durable materials. Modern yurts can be simplistic, but there are also luxury yurts.
Luxury yurts have more features that make them more comfortable and stable to live in permanently. These yurts are usually larger and have a kitchen area and bathroom.
There are also bentwood yurts versus traditional Mongolian gers. A bentwood yurt has a more round dome that curves into the wall. The rafters of a bentwood yurt are curved. Steam is typically used to help curve the wood for bentwood yurts. Traditional gers have straight rafters or roof poles.
What Are the Different Sizes of Yurts?
Yurts can be as small as 8 ft (2.4 m) in diameter, but they can be 30 ft or more in diameter. Sizes usually go up in increments of 2 ft or 4 ft (0.6-1.2 m) in diameter.
For example, Pacific Yurts offers yurt kits that start at 12 ft in diameter and go up by 2 ft until they reach 16 ft (4.9 m). Yurts beyond this size go up by 4 ft.
The most common size for large yurts is 30 ft in diameter. Due to certain building codes and regulations, temporary yurts can’t be any more than 500 sq ft in some locations.
Yurts used as permanent living spaces need to meet certain energy and safety codes to be a legal permanent living structure.
What is the Difference Between a Yurt and a Tent?
Yurts are sturdier than tents. Some tent styles, such as bell tents, resemble the shape of a yurt. But tents don’t have latticework or rafters that make yurts more stable. Tents also don’t need a platform to be set up on.
Depending on the style of a yurt, platforms can be a simple deck-like floor structure. More hi-tech platforms are available for yurts that are used for permanent living.
It usually doesn’t take as long to set up a tent. It can take as little as 10 minutes to put a tent up. Basic yurts typically take an hour to set up or more, depending on the size and number of people constructing them.
Although some luxury tents can be made of thicker materials, yurts are insulated better. Yurts can also have windows and door frames. Tents can have windows and doors, but they’re usually just flaps that can be rolled up and down and closed with a zipper.
Yurts are aerodynamic.
Yurts are aerodynamic because of their circular shape. It allows wind to pass along the sides and top without hitting it straight on.
This was especially helpful for nomadic peoples living in the steppes of Central Asia, which can have harsh weather conditions.
Yurts were useful for trading on the Silk Road.
Due to the easy portability of yurts, nomadic peoples set them up along the Silk Road. Various goods, such as silk, cotton, tea, and rice, were traded along this network. It allowed nomadic peoples to engage in trade with other Eurasian cultures.
The history of yurts is hard to track.
Historians know that yurts were used by nomadic Mongolian and Turkic tribes. But they aren’t exactly sure when yurts were first used. This is due to a lack of archaeological evidence. Since yurts were temporary structures, they weren’t left behind.
The first written record of yurts being used dates back to the 5th century BC. The record was introduced by ancient Greek historian and geographer Herodotus.
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How Much Does a Yurt Cost FAQ
Are yurts warm in the winter?
Yes, yurts can stay warm during the winter. You can add insulation to yurts to help retain heat. Yurts heat up fairly quickly because they lack spaces where heat can get trapped. This creates a more efficient heating process.
Yurts with wood stoves can get toasty and keep them warm in cold temperatures. Additional layers of felt were added to traditional yurts to help with insulation.
Do yurts hold their value?
Yurts are very versatile. They can be used for various things, such as camping, permanent living, or rentals.
Although a yurt can be a great investment for someone wanting to downsize and live in a more simple abode, yurts don’t usually hold or gain value.
The value of a house can fluctuate, but yurts can hold or lose value. Since most yurts are temporary living structures, their value can decrease significantly after a couple of years.
Is a yurt cheaper than a house?
In most cases, a yurt is significantly cheaper than a house. The initial costs of buying a home are much higher than the price of a standard yurt. Even most luxury yurts are less expensive than a tiny house.
Some tiny homes may be the same price or less than a large luxury yurt, depending on location and amenities.
Can you live full-time in a yurt?
Yes, you can live in a yurt full-time. However, this largely depends on where you live. Some areas don’t allow yurts to be permanent living structures. This is mainly due to various building codes and regulations required for permanent living quarters.