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A couple moved into a 730-square-foot, modern yurt to avoid high rent costs in Portland, Oregon. Take a look inside.

Published by Business Insider on Fri, 06 Dec 2019

Zach Both and Nicole Lopez built a modern yurt when they realized the cost of living in Portland, Oregon, was too expensive.The $30,000 yurt took just one weekend to put together. The couple then spent an additional $30,000 to transform it into a beautiful, comfortable home.The main feature of the house is a circular loft surrounded by hanging plants, but the yurt also has a full kitchen, bathroom, living room, and office.They estimate they're saving about $1,000 in living costs compared to renting an apartment in Portland.Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.Moving to a big city in the US can get expensive, so to avoid the high city costs, Zach Both and Nicole Lopez decided to do something different.The couple moved into a 730-square-foot yurta circular tiny house built from poles and fabricon a small island just outside Portland, Oregon, in April 2019. For the past few months, they've been living in their yurt full time and documenting their experience on a blog, Do it Yurtself.Take a look inside their tiny house that has a modern and contemporary flair.FOLLOW US:Insider is on FacebookZach Both was living in a converted van when his girlfriend, Nicole Lopez, got a job in Portland, Oregon, so he knew it was time for a change.Both lived in his van for almost four years and traveled across the country in his home on wheels."I wanted to travel more and have some sense of freedom to do what I wanted," he said.But Lopez got a full-time nursing job in Portland, so Both knew he had to settle down in a more permanent place."We were looking for houses and apartments to rent, but we were dumbfounded by the rent prices," he said.Instead of paying the high rent prices in the city, the couple decided a yurt would be cheaper as a permanent home.After living in a van for several years, Both knew he could continue living the tiny house lifestyle."We always joked about living in one, but when the opportunity came, we came back to it because it's such a unique structure and has such a unique history," he said. "So we settled on the yurt."Yurts go back thousands of years and can be found in Central Asian countries like Mongolia. They are typically circular structures made from flexible poles covered in fabric, like felt.Both and his girlfriend set out to build a yurt that was different than others they'd seen in the past."I wanted to make something unique that people haven't seen before," he said. "Almost every yurt looks exactly the samevery rustic. It was an opportunity to do something completely different and to make a yurt that is modern and contemporary."After finding a spot on Sauvie Island off the coast of Portland, Both and his girlfriend got to work building their home.The couple bought a yurt assembly kit from a company called Rainier Outdoor for $30,000. They enlisted the help of a few friends and built the exterior of the yurt in one weekend in October 2018."We managed to build the entire structure in one long weekend even with very little experience," he said. "Some of my friends never even picked up a power drill before. It's like putting together Ikea furniture just on a much larger scale."But their house wasn't completed just yet."We were then left with an entirely blank space that you can make whatever it wants to be," he said.For the next several months, Both and Lopez focused on turning the inside of the yurt into a livable, modern home.The couple first installed water, plumbing, and electrical, which was a learning experience for them both. They then moved on to building and designing a modern interior, which lasted three months. In the end, they spent another $30,000.When the house was completed, the couple realized they were saving $1,000 in monthly costs by living in their yurt.Since the yurt itself is completely paid off, Both and Lopez only pay $600 per month for the land they are on and for utilities. Both said they would be paying two to three times that in the city of Portland where the median rent price for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,595.While saving money is a great perk, Both said he loves the 730-square-foot yurt for a second reason: the circular loft.While lofts are common in tiny living spaces, Both was determined to make his loft and bedroom look different. Situated in the middle of the 30-foot-diameter house, this yurt's loft is completely circular and is surrounded by "hanging plants that cascade over the edge."A ladder at the back of the house takes Both and Lopez up to the lofted bedroom.Ladders are common in tiny houses, especially in ones that have lofts.Upstairs, the bedroom looks like a modern jungle."It was quite a challenge [to build], but it pays off in the end," Both said. "When you're sleeping up there and looking through the skylight at night, there's nothing else quite like it."Beneath the circular lofted bedroom is the bathroom.The bathroom has a compost toilet, a shower with hot water, and a sink. There's also a storage closet where Lopez and Both keep most of their clothes and camping gear.The living space also has a modern, eat-in kitchen.In the kitchen, you can find a full fridge, a sink, and a toaster oven.At the front of the yurt, there's a large living room.The living space has a pull-out couch, which also stores linens and pillows inside."We needed to find multiple uses for different pieces of furniture," Both said.At the far end of the living room, there is a large wood-burning stove.Both said one of the biggest challenges they face is temperature control."It's too hot during the summer and too cold during the winter," he said.The wood-burning stove is meant to warm up the place in the winter, but for the summer months, they had to find ways to ventilate the home."It takes a little more work than just a normal apartment or house to work through those problems," Both said.Around the corner, there's an office.While Lopez works in the city, Both works from home as a filmmaker, and he uses this space as an office. The shelving unit houses Both's camera equipment and books."We didn't have to skimp on the living features that most people are accustomed to," Both said.Although the couple isn't living in the city of Portland, they are confident that they made the right decision by living in their modern yurt."It's always a challenge," he said. "It's always a learning opportunity. I think perseverance is the key. It's easy to get discouraged at times, but when you're at the end and everything is finished, you'll be able to sit back and relax. It all pays off."Read more:A 23-year-old turned an old van into a 'mobile studio' to explore the US7 gorgeous tents that you can 'glamp' in23 photos that show the ugly truth of living in a tiny houseThis couple's 130-square-foot home is the most traveled tiny house in the world. Here's what their life is like.
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