By Holly O’Dell
As a sales representative for Rainier Yurts, Seattle, Wash., Mark Altmann regularly deals with customers who want a slice of the simple life. “I worked with one couple from Seattle who decided that they’d had it with city living,” Altmann recalls. “They and their two children are now living in two yurts in a rural area of Washington.”
Although many people might not completely give up their lifestyles for full-time yurt living, some have found that purchasing a yurt as a second home or vacation retreat has introduced peace and simplicity into their lives. “Because it’s round and has a dome skylight at its peak, the yurt has an abundance of natural light and a unique feeling inside,” says Alan Bair, president of Pacific Yurts, Cottage Grove, Ore. “The simplicity of the yurt, ease of installation and just its uniqueness make it a special retreat for vacation space. It’s romantic inside a yurt.”
In addition to the cozy feelings it conjures, the yurt can be as primitive or upscale as a customer wants. Most consumers want insulation, allowing a yurt to be installed in virtually any climate, Bair notes. Still other clients have added French doors for a more finished look. Yurt buyers will further customize the product on their own by adding amenities such as a bathroom, kitchen, deck, or covered porch or fireplace, yet some are content with simply placing bunk beds in the original structure.
The relatively green attributes of a yurt also appeal to the eco-conscious crowd looking for a second home. “Yurts offer a more sustainable approach without doing damage to the environment,” Bair says. “They appeal to people who want to have low impact on a piece of natural property.”
Given current economic conditions, Altmann foresees the yurt becoming even more popular among consumers. “Many individuals are using yurts on a parcel of property as a less expensive means of shelter. They cut costs of living enormously,” he states. “My firm belief is that the current housing crunch is aiding this movement.”