Updated: Jan 20
Picking the correct size yurt can be a difficult task. My goal of writing this is to make you take a different perspective, or think deeper about some of the information you may have already looked over and thought about. By doing this I hope I help you pick out the correct size yurt, or give you the verification you needed about the size you were already set on getting. In this blog, I try to break down your needs and wants and fit them into the budget you can afford.
Note that most of this information is based on Great Lakes Yurt Co Yurts and the information I have gathered from sewing there for the past 5 years. This is a guild I am personally writing to help people because of my love of yurts. If you have any questions or information you'd like to add based on this information, please feel free to reach out in my forum (in the header) to start a conversation. You can also feel free to reach out directly to Steve the owner of Great Lakes Yurt Co. Please let him know I sent you!
Square footage: How much is enough?!
I know square is a weird concept with a round house. But figuring out what size yurt you can live in (or whatever your use) and comparing it to your budget is a great place to start. A big thing to keep in mind is that Yurts are a combined open living style space. This means you can fit a lot in the small space compared to a conventional home or cabin that is compartmentalized. That being said the amount of square footage you think you need shouldn’t be compared to a house but something more compact. I like to use a camper as an example because it’s something most people have, have been in, or you can go to a local dealer and check some out. So how big of a camper would you need to do the thing you want to do? I personally have a 24' motorhome (she's an oldie but a goodie) this has about a 20'x8' for living space. My girlfriend and I joke about how we could live in it and this has about 160sqft of living space.
16ft yurt is about 200sqft. In the camper reference this would be a 24' long camper
20ft yurt is about 314sqft or a 39' long camper
24ft yurt is about 452sqft or a 56' long camper
30ft yurt is about 707sqft or an 88' long camper
Now I know these are rectangles and don't include bump outs and all that other fancy stuff, but it's still a pretty good show of how big these yurts actually are. The thing that doesn’t match up is that yurts are round and that can make it a pain in the a** to fit stuff in a small space like the camper. A good example of this is a bed. In a camper a queen bed takes up 33sqft but in a yurt it takes up more because of the curve (I don’t feel like doing the math so here’s a picture that show this).
Make a ground template
When I sew yurts I use templates that are on the ground to cut and shape the fabric. With a template on the ground the yurts look tiny and I mean tiny. Once you put a yurt up it feels a lot bigger. The first time I set up a 30' yurt I was amazed at how big it actually is.
With that being said a really great tool to figuring out what size yurt to get is getting a friend, a string, and a piece of chalk; and going to a park or somewhere with a large unused parking lot. If you're thinking about getting a 20' yurt take a 10' string and draw a circle with the chalk. Take the measurements of your bed, kitchen and everything you want to put in it and draw it in the circle (just like the picture above). If it fits and feels like it would work then that's the right size. But remember the circle is going to feel a lot smaller than the actual yurt will.
Your Budget/ Price of a Yurt
Obviously, you can't buy a yurt that you can't afford, but there are a lot of extras that go into a yurt that you need to make sure you think about. The purpose of this section is to make you think about what's more important the extras, or the extra size. Based on the above info you should have a pretty good idea of what you can make work vs your ideal size for comfort. I also want to note that I will only be doing a quick overview of each price section because there is way too much to talk about in this blog. Check in the blog section to see if I have written more about the sections you're interested in reading about.
The quotes on yurt websites are just for the yurts and that doesn't include the deck. It's also important to note that you might want an extra deck for an entrance like the picture below or create a patio to grill and hang out on. Apart from materials you need to account for the labour of building said deck or Yurt. But to be honest the Yurt setup is pretty easy and can easily be done with a few friends which should only cost you a few packs of beer. This is a link to see the up-to-date prices for Great Lakes Yurt Co Yurts
Depending on where you're building you might not have access to the grid and everything that comes with it. For power, there are three main options connecting to the grid, solar/ renewable, and generator. Obviously, you aren't limited to just one of these and most people have two or all three. A used generator can be the cheapest starting cost, but the
most expensive in the long run (and the biggest pain in the butt).
Sewer can be done in a few different ways with a septic tank, composting toilets, or an outhouse. Personally, I don't mind outhouses, but I wouldn't want to use one forever. I also think that composting toilets sounds great until you look into cleaning and all that stuff. Plus the idea of other people using makes it a no go for me. I personally would set my yurt up for a flush toilet and use an outhouse until I could afford the septic tank. This also depends on my water situation.
Water can be done with a well, collection, or holding tank. Depending on where you are a well can be very deep and expensive not making it an option. Yurts can be weird to do water collection because they don't have a gutter system. I think the coolest way to get water for your yurt is by tapping into a river or clean water source nearby.
I know I didn't get into prices for each of these, but they all have an option that can cost a few grand. Some of these things might be more important to you than yurt size. If these are important to you make sure you budget for them. The good thing is that most of these don't have to be done right away, so if they are planned for they can easily be added later.
How much does a Yurt cost per square foot?!
This is just the base price of a yurt in 2022/ its sqft.
As you can see the price per square foot of a yurt changes a lot base on size. A lot of that is because things like the center ring, dome, doors, and windows are pretty similar on all yurts so that's a base cost without any square feet. Also, the way that math works the smaller the object the greater the surface area (circumference) to area ratio. This means that a 16’ yurt has about half the circumference of a 30’ yurt, but about 1/4 the area. A better representation of this is if you take two 16’ yurt walls and put them together you get more than enough to make one 30’ yurt wall. When you take 2 standalone 16’ yurts you get a total of 400sqft vs the 707sqft in a 30’ yurt.
This shouldn’t make up your mind on what yurt to buy, but yes you are getting a lot more square footage for your $ every time you go up a size. Technically this will start to even out because when you buy the deck and flooring and everything inside there is a lot less to buy in a 16’ yurt. So upfront costs more, after costs less (for the smaller yurts). Pine flooring for example is around $6/sqft so that's $1200 for the 16 and $4,242 for the 30'. That's not a great example because it's the same price a square foot, but it still shows how much more everything is in a 30' yurt. A better example would be expensive tile in a bathroom or something like that whereas the 30' yurt will have a lot more of it. Another example is that you might have a dinette in a 16' yurt and use that or your bed to watch tv and eat, but with the 30' yurt you have that plus a three-piece couch, a coffee table, and a 60" tv with a tv stand.
Planning for Kids and Guests
If I was planning on living in my yurt with kids I wouldn’t get one smaller than 24’. There’s a lot of room in a yurt but as soon as you start adding beds the amount of space you have drops quickly. A twin bed takes up about 20sqft plus the missing space from the curve; this is over 10% of the total square foot of a 16’ Yurt. With the addition of a queen bed that’s about a total of 40% of your yurt. With kids in a smaller yurt bunkbeds are a must and or some kind of a loft.
This same thing goes for guests. You might have friends or family that stay the night or just come to hang out. But making sure you have the space to accommodate your specific situation is a must. Like the camper example above if you're buying a camper for you and your partner it will look a lot different than the one you buy if you plan on having friends along too.
Deck and Outdoor Space
This goes along with the guests' section, but if you have or haven't thought about having a large outside entertaining/ cooking area this can greatly change the size of the yurt you need. The beautiful thing about a yurt is that they seamlessly integrate intoa the nature around it. I have a fire pit and an exterior bar that I use for entertaining my friends and family. This could easily be an outdoor kitchen or grill where you do most of your cooking as well. The point of this is that you shouldn't get stuck in your head with what all you can fit in your yurt because there's a ton of useful space outside of your yurt.
Bathroom in your yurt
If you plan on having a conventional bathroom with a toilet (flushing or composting) and a shower this can take up a lot of space. More than just taking up space this means you’ll be putting up a wall which closes in the yurt and makes the whole thing feel smaller. I have never seen a finished bathroom in a 16’ yurt, so I don't personally know how well they fit in. The diagram at the top is a great space-saving example of a 16' Yurt with a bathroom. Once again campers are a great way to go and check out a bunch of space-saving bathrooms. With non-conventional bathrooms, you can save a lot of space by combining showers and toilets or moving the separate pieces into the main area such as the mirror/ med cabinet, shower, and sink (or use the kitchen sink). If you didn't think about non-conventional style bathrooms this can be a great way to sneak into a smaller-size yurt. If you do not want to go with a non-conventional style bathroom I would really think about going with a larger yurt. The picture below is a good example of a space-saving bathroom because they use the shower in the corner and the curve as the walkway. Along with this they also used the roof of the bathroom as a loft so they technically didn't lose space. Adding shelves between the studs for toiletries and other essentials is a great way to add even more usable space.
Kitchens in a Yurt
With yurt kitchens, you see about a 50/50 split between people who build on the curve and people who build on a straight wall. Unlike the bathroom, there aren't really any space-saving designs you can do for the kitchen other than having one or not. If you don't really need an oven you can get a Microwave that has a built-in convection oven or air fryer. The same goes with the stove; if you don't use it a lot you can buy induction cooktops and pull them out when you need them, or even take them outside to cook. I've seen a few drawers that pull out for more countertop space. Personally, I think a grill and a large cutting board are a must so you can do a lot of the prep work and cooking outside
Storage and Extra things you didn't think of
Shoot do you need to make space for a laundry room or a mud room!? Do you or your partner have a problem collecting too much "shit"? Depending on your climate and build type you might be able to turn the bottom of your yurt into a storage or laundry room. Make sure you're accounting for enough storage space when you're choosing your yurt size.
Why I would personally get each size yurt
I personally ponder what size yurt I would really get. No matter the size yurt the thing that stays the same is I want a really big outdoor space to hang out and entertain. I also want a flushable toilet within walking distance because I don't want to have to deal with other people's shit (literally). So I would budget for those things first and go from there.
Not accounting for the budget this is what I personally think each size yurt is great for.
This is a yurt I would buy if I was planning on renting or Airbnbing it out.
I would also buy this yurt if I was putting it in my backyard where I plan on having fires and hanging out with friends. The main reason I would get this yurt is the extra space to hang out in. I'd put a table to play cards and a few bunk beds for friends to stay over. This size yurt is too small for me to live in because I like to have people over and there just isn’t enough room for a full living set up and to entertain.
I know you’re probably saying but you said you could live in your camper that’s that size. And yes I could, but as soon as we bring people along for the ride it is way too small.
I would use this for all the reasons I would use the 16'er.
This yurt is something I could live in part-time maybe on the weekends and have enough space to have a few friends over. With the use of a couch that’s also a bunk bed, there would be plenty of room.
I would put a toilet in a yurt this size and a small kitchen (Sink and Microwave)
I personally don’t think I would get a 24’ yurt. The reason I say that is because if I’m going that big I would probably just full send with a 30’ yurt (if I could afford it).
That being said I do think a 24’ yurt is big enough for me to live in and I would rather spend my budget on septic, well, floor heating and stuff like that, if I was on a tight budget.
I would put a loft and a full-size kitchen in the Yurt.
I still think I would put an unconventional-style bathroom in the 24' yurt.
This is massive. It’s the size of a small house. I could 100% live in this with plenty of room for friends. It’s almost twice the size of the 24’ yurt so there’s a lot of space. If this fits in the space I want to build then that’s my choice for a vacation or weekend spot, but like I said I could live in it.
I would put a full kitchen and a loft in this as well. I think I would put a full bathroom in, but I would be tempted to put two non-conventional style bathrooms
I know a lot of what I said might sound like common sense or a no-brainer. With that being said I hope I was able to add a little knowledge or at least put the information out in a way that helped you think of it differently. If this was helpful check out my other yurt-related blogs. Also once again please feel free to ask anything in the forum or directly to Steve the owner of Great Lakes Yurt Co.