Tanvi Misra is a staff writer for CityLab covering immigrant communities, housing, economic inequality, and culture. She also authors Navigator, a weekly newsletter for urban explorers (subscribe here). Her work also appears in The Atlantic, NPR, and BBC.
One woman's off-the-grid living arrangement—in a yurt.
In this video, the Chicago Reader takes a tour of a young woman's literally off-the-beaten path home. The 25-year-old calls herself Kara W, and she lives in a yurt—a portable, dome-like structure, commonly used by nomads in Mongolia. But Kara W isn't anywhere near Ulan Bator; she's in Chicago.
"I don't believe in paying rent," she tells the Chicago Reader. "I like living outside and being connected to the earth, and still living in the city."
Kara W is not the only one to get on the yurt bus. (Actually, it was a van she got on. With the yurt. That's how she transported it to the abandoned land where it now stands. "The whole thing folds up and you can carry it on two camels!" she tells the Reader.) Living a sustainable, off-the-grid lifestyle in this Mongolian shelter has been catching on in parts of the United States, according to a 2012 piece in Business Insider.
Part of the yurt's appeal is that it's much cheaper than a house. Depending on the size, whether or not you build it yourself, and whether you get add-ons, a yurt could typically cost anything from $5,000 to $20,000.
Plus a yurt can also be weather-resistant and ... cozy. Verge recently interviewed Sean and Mollie Busby, who live in a yurt in Whitefish, Montana. Check out their cute, carbon-print free digs:
But here's the glitch. If you want to switch over to the #yurtlife, you should check with local authorities to see if you need permit for it, and to make sure you're in line with local building codes. Otherwise, like rent-resistant Kara W, you're squatting—and you might get in trouble for that.