Includes answers to the following questions:
A Mongolian yurt, also called a ger, is traditionally used as a portable dwelling by the nomadic people of Mongolia and other Central Asian countries. The yurt anatomy consists of a wooden lattice frame, covered with felt and canvas, and a distinctive dome at the top (also known as a toono - the most sacred part of the yurt), which connects the earth to the sky! In Mongolia, a yurt is often installed right on the ground, but a platform is recommended in more humid climates. At Groovy Yurts we offer a tongue-in-groove platform (although this piece is optional), which is easily transported and assembled. It’s important to note that some modifications can be made to Mongolian gers to make them more suitable for varying climates and municipal regulations.
A yurt, at its essence, is a combination of structural function, form, symbolism, and cultural significance. Yurts are constructed by assembling a lattice framework of wooden slats. The lattice is then covered with layers of wool felt and canvas or other weather-resistant materials. The roof is assembled by connecting the lattice walls to the circular opening at the top (called a “toono”), which is supported by the center pillars (called “bagaans”) using wooden rafters (called “huns”). The toono serves as a chimney for the stove, a way to let natural light in, as well as the ‘place where the earth meets the sky’ - it is a feat of engineering and crucial to the structural integrity of each component. Other components such as insulation and ropes are made from sheep’s wool and horsehair, respectively (and respectfully). Authentic Mongolian yurts are hand-crafted and painted, meaning that no 2 are exactly the same!
Mongolian nomads use gers as their primary dwellings. Because of the versatility of these dwellings, they have become increasingly popular with varying uses in North America such as affordable alternative living solutions, off-grid living, yoga/meditation studios, community spaces, guest rooms, patio covers, nature schools, glamping experiences, Airbnbs...and really anything else you can think of! The Mongolian yurt is not only affordable, but it’s also easily adaptable in other countries due to its portability and adaptability to extreme weather conditions (with a wood stove, they are a 4-season dwelling).
The yurt itself is a representation of the universe. The circular shape of the yurt represents the nomads’ close connection with nature and the idea of a harmonious, cyclical way of life. The crown opening symbolizes the connection between earthly and heavenly realms and allows for the circulation of earth and light. Every inch of the Mongolian ger holds a special significance from the parts to the shape, to the painted motifs and designs. Every one of these dwellings tells a story about the rich history of Mongolia. It’s so important to understand the intricate symbolism of Mongolian yurts before purchasing your own, as this is precisely what makes these structures so unique. The emotions that people feel from stepping into a traditional yurt (with their right foot first of course) transcend cultures and geography.
The inside of a Mongolian yurt is often decorated with colour (reds, oranges, greens, yellows, blues, and pinks) on wood, textiles, rugs, tapestries, and furniture. The bright decor is very functional to provide warmth and comfort to the minimalistic space. As everything is hand-crafted by the Mongolian yurt manufacturers, these pieces also hold great cultural and symbolic significance. Despite what you may think, the furniture is not rounded like the yurt!
For those with more neutral-modern styles, you can purchase contemporary Mongolian yurts that forego the traditional bright colours - to better showcase the natural woodwork and detailed construction. There’s truly something for everyone when it comes to these works of art.
For more design inspiration, we’d recommend heading on over to Pinterest and checking out ‘Yurt Homes’!
Everything is possible! Adding electricity and running water to a yurt has certainly been done before. The concept of a Mongolian yurt is so flexible that it easily adapts to individual needs. All that is encouraged and required is that you respect the safety standards of construction and consult a professional when necessary. For advice from experienced yurt dwellers, we recommend checking out the options below:
A wood-burning stove, typically placed in the center of the yurt, is used for heating during cold weather. The stovepipe extends through the toono opening, allowing smoke to exit and providing a means for ventilation. The wool felt layer on the yurt makes these dwellings extremely efficient to heat - just make sure you get the right stove for your yurt size, otherwise, you may end up too cold or, more likely, TOO hot!
Yurts are designed to withstand the harsh weather conditions of the Mongolian steppe, including strong winds and freezing temperatures. The layers of wool felt insulation and the sturdy wooden frame provide effective insulation, making them warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It’s important to note that in most areas of North America (and other parts of the world) house wrap is recommended to control humidity.
Precautions must be taken to set up a yurt in an area that experiences frequent tropical storms (or other extreme weather phenomena). There are ways to secure your yurt when something unexpected comes along. Stay safe out there!
Yes, many tourist accommodations in Mongolia and other Central Asian countries (and increasingly North American glamping destinations) offer the opportunity to stay in traditional Mongolian yurts, providing a unique cultural and experiential stay. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, you will certainly feel the ancient magic of a Mongolian yurt!
Yes, various Central Asian cultures have their own variations of yurts, with differences in design, materials, and decorations. Traditional Mongolian and Turkic yurts are most common in Central Asia, however, the rest of the world has seen growth in popularity for both the traditional and modern versions. But what is the best way to go? Well, this depends on your style, location, climate & municipal regulations. Make sure to do your research on which yurt is right for you!
Not sure where to start when it comes to buying a yurt? Hint: First decide whether you’re interested in a traditional yurt or modern yurt.
Authentic Mongolian yurts for sale can be found at specialized yurt manufacturers or delivery companies, both in Mongolia and internationally. Look for reputable sellers with a track record of offering high-quality, traditional yurts, and who are able to provide valuable resources to help you properly set up and care for your new dwelling. A company that is able to develop an after-purchase relationship with you is essential, as there’s so much to know and learn about Mongolian yurts and their long-term maintenance.
These unique dwellings can come in various sizes, including small Mongolian yurts suitable for a couple to larger versions that can accommodate extended families or big events. Sizes often include both the diameter of the set-up yurt and the number of wall pieces, with common options including 4-wall (16’), 5-wall (20’), and 6-wall (22’) yurts. If you’re wondering how there can be walls, this refers to the number of lattice sections that are tied together to create the standard rounded shape of a yurt.
In Mongolia, the most common size of yurt to live in is the 4 or 5-wall yurt. It is also the most efficient in terms of heating and transportability.
Great News: There are customization and add-on options available for Mongolian Yurts! Aside from varying the size of your yurt, there are numerous options available to customize your yurt for your specific needs. Customize everything from the colour (dark blue, orange, red, yellow, light blue, and grey), insulation, extra windows, and platforms, to toonos, urghs, and even traditional furniture. This can make your yurt unique, functional for your environment, and reflective of your personal style!
Yes, traditional yurts are a direct reflection of the Mongolian people’s deep respect for the earth and are therefore sustainable dwellings. Mongolian yurts are meant to be free-standing, so as not to harm the ground, and are made out of mostly all-natural and eco-friendly materials. These materials include wood structural pieces, horsehair ropes, sheep wool insulation, and cotton canvas. The Mongolian yurt in its traditional size is extremely easy to keep warm in winter because of its compact shape and insulation and remains cool in the heat of the summer - making it very efficient.
Here at Groovy Yurts, we plant 25 trees for every yurt sold (on average, 3 trees are used per yurt) and we offer North American delivery tours that minimize carbon emissions from the alternative of individually shipped yurts.
Well-maintained Mongolian yurts can last for many years, even decades - Mongolians will go so far as to say 100 years (although this is likely based on fixing and replacing parts over time). The longevity of a yurt depends on factors like the quality of materials, craftsmanship, and how well it is cared for (especially in harsher climates). With a little care, the wood structure and felt insulation will last dozens of years. The outer canvas, however, is exposed to the elements 24/7 and tends to wear out the quickest. At Groovy Yurts, we offer a canvas replacement discount (applicable for up to 10 years after the initial yurt purchase).
Yurts are versatile and can be set up on various types of foundations/substructures, including wooden decks, platforms, cob flooring, or even directly on the ground (although not recommended). The choice depends on your location and personal preference. At Groovy Yurts we offer a special platform solution made of SIP panels with a simple tongue and groove connection. This platform option is fully insulated, transportable, durable, and easy to assemble.
Watch Video: Platforms >
The price of Mongolian yurts varies depending on factors like size, customization, manufacturer, and delivery/shipping methods and requirements. Smaller, more basic yurts can start at a few thousand dollars, while larger, customized ones can be more expensive. In most cases, traditional yurts are more affordable than their modern counterparts. At Groovy Yurts, our traditional Mongolian yurts range from $2790 - $18,950 for a standard yurt package, while our ‘Natural Wood Collection’ yurts range from $8950 - $17,950. We also offer delivery and set-up services as an add-on. One of the reasons our yurts are so affordable is that we are the only link between our customers and the families of our manufacturer. Check out the video below to learn more about why we recently reduced all of our yurt prices by up to 10%!
Yes, Mongolian yurts are designed to be adaptable to varying climates with multiple seasons. They are very well insulated, meaning they remain cool in the summer and warm in the winter. In the summer, they are able to remain comfortable due to the felt insulation and cotton-based canvas that repels the outside sun and heat. A natural cooling airflow can be created by opening the toono and raising the side covers. In the winter, a standard wood stove, pellet stove, or slow-combustion stove will do their job to keep you nice and cozy!
One of the best qualities of the Mongolian yurt is that it breathes. This is largely due to the canvas used, which is water-resistant, but not waterproof. We recommend adding a layer of house wrap. This can either be acquired through purchase or can be made yourself, with the help of our instructions. It should be installed between the outer canvas and the felt insulation and will ensure that humidity is controlled, while maintaining the yurts breathability. This is one of the main reasons why those living in coastal areas are able to enjoy yurts as well!
Regular maintenance includes treating wooden parts to prevent rot, checking, repairing, and cleaning the coverings, and ensuring the stove and chimney parts are all in working condition. Additionally, the yurt likes to be reset on an annual basis, and completely taken down and stored if not in use. Proper care can extend the lifespan of your yurt significantly.
While it's possible to assemble a yurt solo with some practical building skills, it’s recommended to have assistance, especially with larger yurts or if it’s your first time setting one up. Many manufacturers offer assembly services or guidance to ensure proper setup. At Groovy Yurts, we offer set-up assistance with our delivery tours. Our set-up expert on location will guide you and your team of helpers through a safe and organized set-up, as well as provide yurt tips and knowledge about Mongolian history and culture!
We truly wish we had a one-size-fits-all answer to this one, but unfortunately, it’s completely based on location. The legality of living in a yurt as a permanent residence varies depending on your location and local zoning and building codes. It's essential to check with your local government or zoning authority to understand the regulations and permits needed for your living. Some regions have specific guidelines for alternative dwellings, while others may require modifications or additional permits to make the space a legal and comfortable long-term home. The good news is that there is a good framework for understanding and working with your local building code authorities! MANY have been successful living in a yurt as a permanent residence, however, sometimes it takes some patience, research, and perseverance.
Preventing and managing pests in yurts, like in any other dwelling, is essential for a comfortable and healthy living environment. Some tips to address this concern are ensuring that your platform is the right size for your yurt, sealing entry points, regular cleaning, proper food storage, natural pest repellents (such as moth balls), screened windows and doors, regular inspections or investing in an animal of the feline variety.
For more information about yurts, living in a yurt, yurt set-up, and company policies, head to our FAQ page!