The Circle: The Benefits of Yurt Living for Anyone Dreaming of an Off-Grid Lifestyle

By guest contributor Jade Cardy of Yurtigo.
If you've ever dreamed of living an off-grid lifestyle but worry you don't have the skills or knowledge, take some inspiration and advice from Jade and Devin's story. Both moved from the big city to pursue a simpler life living off-grid in a yurt in rural Canada. Despite little to no experience with off-grid living, they're surviving their first winter, learning to be resourceful and self-reliant as they go and living out an adventure many of us only ever dream of!It was early October when my partner and I packed up our one bedroom apartment into the largest u-Haul we could find, picked up our yurt kit, and drove five hours into the mountains, with three kitties voicing their opinions the entire way.
We didn’t have jobs, just a plot of land on a friend’s 40 acres and a dream. We were on our way to starting a whole new chapter in our lives.

A little background info

I endured a back injury in 2012 which never healed itself. It left me in chronic pain, unable to work, and miserable. I lost my sense of self, had no idea who this new me was, and frankly I wasn’t ready to accept or even want to get to know this new me.  Depression came for a very long visit, and anxiety decided to drop in on the party somewhere along the way.
Like anyone else, I needed a purpose, and up until the injury, work had been my purpose. Having had that taken away -plus the stress of no income and the constant, insistent pain- I was wasting away.
Since I had no income, we had to come up with clever ways to get by each month, since we couldn’t live off just my partner’s income. The free list on craigslist and bidding wars sites became my shopping mall. I also had to sell my car and my condo. With the way real estate prices were climbing in the city, we knew we wouldn’t be able to afford anything, so we had to think outside the box. And that is when we came up with “The Circle,” or more specifically, yurt living. 

The journey to yurt living begins

We had a friend in the North Okanagan with 40 acres of land who invited us to come live on his farm and be apart of the community. We found a local company that manufactured yurts, so we went for a visit to see one set up and fell in love. After placing our order, waited the 8-9 weeks production time, and packed and sold and scrambled to get ready for our life makeover. 
Another factor that contributed to choosing yurt living was my experience in nature versus in the city. I suffer extreme insomnia when in the city, yet I noticed that when we would go camping out in the wilderness, I slept much better, and was subsequently happier. With debt piling up around us and happiness seeming just beyond our door, it seemed a no brainer to take the plunge.
If you've ever dreamed of living an off-grid lifestyle but worry you don't have the skills or knowledge, take some inspiration and advice from Jade and Devin's story. Both moved from the big city to pursue a simpler life living off-grid in a yurt in rural Canada. Despite little to no experience with off-grid living, they're surviving their first winter, learning to be resourceful and self-reliant as they go and living out an adventure many of us only ever dream of!

The entranceway to our yurt. Home sweet dome!

What an adjustment! The hardest part has been trying to prepare for the obstacles that come our way. First obstacle, the yurt company forgot to include two integral parts of our floor, so construction halted for a week while we waited for the yurt company to send reinforcements. The weather had dropped down to an unexpected minus 12 degrees Celcius, and we were living out of a tent!

Fortunately we had a shipping container holding all of our stuff while we built the yurt, so we rearranged our belongings and set up home in the shipping container, which wasn’t much warmer than the tent to be completely honest. Our water also froze during this freak cold spell, obstacle number two. And, since we moved in October, we didn’t have the spring and summer months to help prepare for winter, so we are behind on fire wood, but we are slowly catching up. There is something meaningful about cutting wood during a big snowfall. It’s a very humbling, yet happy feeling. 

If you've ever dreamed of living an off-grid lifestyle but worry you don't have the skills or knowledge, take some inspiration and advice from Jade and Devin's story. Both moved from the big city to pursue a simpler life living off-grid in a yurt in rural Canada. Despite little to no experience with off-grid living, they're surviving their first winter, learning to be resourceful and self-reliant as they go and living out an adventure many of us only ever dream of!

What I miss most about city life are my family and friends. I must admit, I also miss the free list on craigslist. Living in a denser population equates to more free, “disposable” items.

But while I thought I would miss the convenience of everything, I realized after I left the city that convenience was what I needed to escape, because the conveniences I had become entagled in were not healthy. They were self-destructive, which did not help my depression, but rather fueled it.
What I don’t miss are the invisible moments with strangers where no one interacts, the busy traffic and rush hour, transit, fast food joints on every corner, people on top of people, the public drug abuse and homelessness crisis, the apathy and negativity, the rainy weather… I could go on, but I’ve moved on from that place.
So has this helped my depression? A resounding yes! It has given me purpose again.
The greatest reward in all of this has been the knowledge acquired. Not just learning about waste management systems, composting systems, solar power, wood stoves and how they work with updraft, but also learning how to be self-sustaining and self-sufficient. All of this has been invaluable. Coming up with creative ways to solve problems with only what’s on hand is very fulfilling. It’s definitely a confidence boost putting your skills and knowledge to the actual test. 
If you've ever dreamed of living an off-grid lifestyle but worry you don't have the skills or knowledge, take some inspiration and advice from Jade and Devin's story. Both moved from the big city to pursue a simpler life living off-grid in a yurt in rural Canada. Despite little to no experience with off-grid living, they're surviving their first winter, learning to be resourceful and self-reliant as they go and living out an adventure many of us only ever dream of!

Setting up our yurt. Here we have the frame set up and we’re adding the snow and wind kit made of 31 solid pine lodge poles.

So has this helped my depression? A resounding yes! It has given me purpose again.
I am responsible for stoking the fire and keeping our home warm. I am responsible for ensuring there is enough wood to run the wood stove. My responsibilities include small but important tasks that contribute to the household. 

The humble fulfillment of living close to the land

There is nothing more gratifying than laying in bed after a long day of preparation work, looking out the toono of the home we built with our bare hands and gazing up at the stars above, while hearing the animals talking back and forth. Or listening to a wind storm whirling around outside, or the rain and snow pelting against our vinyl roof. It’s very satisfying and humbling being so close to Mother Nature. 
If you've ever dreamed of living an off-grid lifestyle but worry you don't have the skills or knowledge, take some inspiration and advice from Jade and Devin's story. Both moved from the big city to pursue a simpler life living off-grid in a yurt in rural Canada. Despite little to no experience with off-grid living, they're surviving their first winter, learning to be resourceful and self-reliant as they go and living out an adventure many of us only ever dream of!

Lightning seen through the toono, the “skylight” in the roof of the yurt.

This experience has also given me something to write home about, so to speak. I can help others achieve a similar goal by sharing my experiences. Being in a constant state of learning is what does it for me. It’s invigorating and refreshing and the best confidence boost.
Keeping my brain active has been crucial to staving off depression. Usually there is some challenge that we wake up to, whether it’s figuring out how to beat the condensation, or testing the damper on the wood stove to see what setting creates the maximum burn time, or figuring new and inventive ways to create visually appealing storage, since our yurt is only 314 square feet.
My depression still tries to rear its ugly head, especially when a disaster is looming or has occurred, but I’ve accepted that these challenges are positive. So I try to keep my mindset in check by not letting obstacles ruin this experience, and revelling in the feeling of accomplishment when one disaster is averted. 


Some advice for anyone looking to try yurt living

– If you are moving somewhere with four seasons, move in the warmer months. Take advantage of the warm weather to prepare for the winter.

– Do not place items up against the wall in a yurt. Yurts need to breathe since they are not airtight. This will help immensely in minimizing condensation.

– Insulate your water reservoirs.

– Get thermometers. You will want to know the temperatures inside the yurt and of the wood stove.

– Have candles and flashlights nearby.

– Keep track of what is in your moving boxes. If you are like us and did not downsize enough prior to the move, you might have a shipping container full of boxes. It makes life ten times easier if you can locate an item without having to open all the boxes first.

– Rocks are your best friend when it comes to dirt roads. Collect large rocks and place them where it gets muddy and rutty. Then lay smaller rocks and gravel overtop. The large rocks provide a base so the gravel doesn’t get swallowed up by the mud. It also helps immensely for gaining traction.  

– We opted for the standard, non-glass windows for our yurt. There is no insulation over them, so in the winter cold creeps in fast. Placing wool blankets over the windows, while impeding your view, will keep a lot of the warmth in. The toono provides all the natural light needed, so the windows can be covered up.

– Reliable internet is hard to get outside of major cities. If internet is important to you, research it before you commit to moving to a location. Also, shipping containers act as giant Faraday cages, so don’t expect to get the best reception or connection when inside of one. 

– Try to locate your closest cell tower and/or satellite locations prior to placing your yurt or shipping container.

– Look into the Humanure composting toilet system. It is cost-effective, and brilliant, in my humble opinion. Zero smell, even when I add the cats’ business. It truly amazes me. 

– Make sure your wood stove is rated to heat at least three times your square footage. We opted for the smallest Jotul wood stove, and it has far exceeded our expectations. In the future we may opt to get the larger Jotul, for the sole reason of not having to stoke it as often. Since I don’t sleep consistently due to my pain, having to stoke our fire every four hours or so throughout the night isn’t too bad. Though I can imagine it might bother others.

– Make sure your chimney cap is vertical. Ours was slanted slightly and it melted all the snow on a nearby tree, which ran right back down the chimney pipe, creating steam (which we originally mistook for smoke and thought our chimney was broken) and a goopy mess.

– Wood ash is an amazing resource. We use it in our composting systems, as well as on icey and snowy walkways. It provides great traction. We even have a bucket of ash in the car in case we get stuck in the snow somewhere. 

– Get a good water filtration system. With the Berkey water filter that we chose, we can melt snow on the stove if we needed to and filter it through. If it came down to it, we could even take river or puddle water, run it through the Berkey, and it would be safe to drink.


A typical day in the life…

If you've ever dreamed of living an off-grid lifestyle but worry you don't have the skills or knowledge, take some inspiration and advice from Jade and Devin's story. Both moved from the big city to pursue a simpler life living off-grid in a yurt in rural Canada. Despite little to no experience with off-grid living, they're surviving their first winter, learning to be resourceful and self-reliant as they go and living out an adventure many of us only ever dream of!

Wake up with the sun. Our yurt has a toono which acts like a giant skylight. It’s a nice way to wake up and has done wonders getting my Circadian rhythm back in check, which has aided my sleeping habits immensely.
Stoke the fire and scoop the ash. Get it raging to boil water for coffee, tea and bannock. I also have to stoke the wood stove throughout the day and try to keep the temperature inside around 20 degrees Celcius to dry out the condensation that collects around the edges. 
Warm water on the stove to clean dirty dishes.
Empty the grey water bucket. Since we don’t have running water, we have a faucet and sink set up with a bucket underneath catching the grey water.
Cut wood. Since we moved here in October, we weren’t ready for winter, so we have to go cut wood to sustain us throughout the colder months. Some of the wood we have to dry out inside, near the wood stove.
Once a week we have to switch out the bucket on our Humanure composting toilet and empty it into the dedicated compost, which in 2 years will become fertilizer for the garden.
Once a week we have to fill the Berkey water filter. We have access to well water and so we run it through the Berkey. Since some of our water has frozen, we have to bring the 5 gallon jugs inside to thaw near the wood stove, then pour them into the Berkey.
Since we don’t have running water, once a week we drive into town to the public swimming pool for a swim, hot tub, sauna and shower. This is one of my favourite days as we get to visit the thrift stores as well.
Once a week we offer our help to the farm and aid in whatever task needs to be done at that time.
There are still tasks that we are doing to help set up our home, such as stuffing insulation under the yurt and building a nice rock wall around the outer edges. 
To follow our story, find us on Facebook and Instagram as Yurtigo.







  1. Melissa

    What an awesome article! I’m currently in a big city, that gives me regular panic attacks from the noise, but this year we are starting our search for rural property. I would love to set up a yurt like you did, but my husband isn’t as excited about circle living.

    I’d love to know more about yurts in winter. Obviously, they originated in cold climates, but most of the off-grid yurt info I find out there is for warmer, dry climates. Can you insulate them so they have better heat retention?

    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hey Melissa,

      I totally hear you about the noise and the panic attacks. That’s one reason why we moved out of the city too. The property we live on now is still just off the highway and the traffic noises still give me anxiety and I suffer from panic attacks too so I totally understand. Our ultimate goal is to find a quiet, rural property off of a country side road (preferably a dead end!).

      I’m not sure what the options are for insulation… This post was written by a guest contributor so I will pass on questions to her. But I do know she mentioned putting blankets over windows in the window to help insulate them. I’ll see if she might be able to provide a better answer.

      All the best and hopefully you’ll be out of the city soon too!


  2. Ruthie

    I have never heard of a yurt, so this was interesting!

    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Ruthie,

      I had once stayed in yurt when I was travelling but had never considered living in one until Jade shared her story with me. With the whole “tiny house” movement along with more people looking to move off-grid, I think yurt-living might just gather steam too!


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Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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Hot cross buns are an Easter tradition in our house, so naturally I wanted to learn how to make them at home.⁣

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I’m not always so good at sharing all of the awesome stuff I’ve got going on in life and business here on social media. When you’re a full time homesteader, business owner, editor, mom and wife, sometimes IG falls by the wayside 😬

But I just had to pop in this morning to let you know that I’m doing something I’ve never done before, and offering anyone who would like to try out my online membership program—The Society Of Self-Reliance—the opportunity to join for just $1.

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Me shopping for Easter candy for my kids, and walking out empty handed because it’s all full of absolute garbage!

I don’t mind my kids having sugar now and again, but I draw the line at food dies, seed oils and artificial ingredients. (Or at least, I try!)

Hey, we’re not perfect, and yes, our kids will get Easter candy on Sunday morning. Ryan has already bought some and I’m sure he didn’t check all the ingredients like I do! I’m fine with the 80/20 rule most of the time. But the meta question here, is why are these types of ingredients allowed in foods to begin with? Especially food marketed toward kids!

Yes, it’s “junk food.” I don’t expect it to be HEALTHY. But it could be made better by omitting the known carcinogenic ingredients that have been linked to everything from ADHD to hormone imbalances to cancer!

Folks, we must demand better. We DESERVE better, and so do our kids.

27 7

We said goodbye to a family pet yesterday. My mom has had Zoe since I was a teenager, and Evelyn has grown to love her during her visits with nanny.

It’s never easy to say goodbye to a family member, human or furry. But we don’t shelter our kids from death either. Evelyn was with us when we found our rabbits dead. She went with my mom to say goodbye to her other cat a year ago. And she knows where the chickens go when it’s their time.

Having a healthy relationship to death is important. It is, after all, the only certainty in life.

Today Ryan is heading down to clean out his dad’s place after he passed last week. They had a strained relationship, so our kids never knew him as their grandpa. But still, it’s never easy.

It does, however, teach us to be grateful for every day we’re alive, and to appreciate the ones we love while we’re still together, because you never know how much time you have left.

RIP Zozo ❤️ See you over the rainbow bridge 🌈 🐾

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When I first started homesteading, gardening, and trying to be more self-sufficient, I had no idea what I was doing. Everything was new to me, and I had no one in my life to teach me the ropes.

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While these free resources have taught me a lot, I’ve also come across lots of bad (or just wrong) advice online, and sadly, I’ve dealt with a jerk or two in the comments section of public Facebook groups.

Eventually I did invest in online mentorship and my success from there was exponential. Now, less than a decade after leaving the city in pursuit of our new life as homesteaders, I’ve not only learned how to grow an abundance of food and troubleshoot all kinds of plant issues to ensure a healthy crop and successful harvest, but I’ve learned how to be more self-sufficient in just about every area of life.

I’ve learned how to
🌱 grow my own groceries
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so together we’ve got a wide range of skills that allow us to live a more empowered, self-reliant life.

Now I want to help you do the same…

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26 7

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38 13

When I graduated from university with a degree in journalism many years ago, I remember thinking that while I knew how to write, edit, interview, shoot, and handle just about every part of creating a publication from the editorial standpoint, I really had no clue how to actually get published, let alone how the printing process works.

Over the years I’ve followed my passion for writing, editing and creating content, figuring much of it out on my own. From creating my blog to “self-publishing” my own digital/print magazine for the last 4 years, I’ve taught myself most of the practical skills necessary for turning an idea into a publication and getting said publication in the hands and in front of the eyes of many hundreds of readers.

But now that I’ve joined forces with the team at @homesteadlivingmagazine and @freeportpress, we’re all able to level up and reach many THOUSANDS of print and digital readers together.

People are HUNGRY for tried and tested advice on homesteading and self-reliant living. There’s a huge movement happening right now as more people wake up to all of the corruption in the world and realize that many of the systems we have come to depend on are fragile and on the brink of collapse. People are ready to take matters into their own hands by growing their own food, preparing their own meals, becoming producers instead of merely consumers and taking control of their health, freedom, security and lives.

I’m so proud to not only be a part of this movement, but to be at the forefront of it with some of the most passionate, talented and driven individuals I could ask to work with.

Getting to meet and brainstorm with some of the team in person and tour the printing facilities over the last few days has opened up a whole new world of possibilities, not just for me, but for everyone who considers themselves part of the modern homesteading movement. We are growing faster than I could have ever imagined. We’re creating a system outside of the system! We’re charging full steam ahead and we invite you to climb aboard and join us for the ride:)

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29 5

It’s been a minute since I popped into IG to say hi. (Hi! 👋) But before I share what’s been going on behind the scenes, I thought it would be a good time to (re)introduce myself, because I’ve never actually done that before!

My name’s Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader living in the beautiful Comox Valley on Vancouver Island. I live with my family (human, furry and feathered) on 1/4 acre property where we grow and preserve hundreds of pounds of our own food every year, and strive to live a more self-reliant lifestyle in all that we do.

I grew up in Vancouver and had pretty much zero experience homesteading before my husband, Ryan and I decided we wanted to escape the rat race, become less dependent on the modern industrial food system (and all modern industrialized systems), and dove head first into this lifestyle around a decade ago.

We packed up and moved to Vancouver Island where we live now, started our first garden, and the rest is pretty much history.

(Well, actually that’s not true… There have been A LOT of ups and downs, successes and failures, wins and losses, struggles, challenges and pivotal moments along the way, but those are stories for another day).

Over the past few years, our decision to follow a less conventional path that aims to break free (at least in some part) from “the system” has been affirmed over and over again. We all know for a fact now that our food system, healthcare system, financial system, transportation system and so much more are all really just a house of cards built on shaky ground. We’ve been lucky so far, but sooner or later it’s all liable to collapse.

But preparedness and security isn’t the only thing that drives us… The peace of mind I get knowing that everything we grow is 100% organic, and that the ingredients in our food, medicine, personal and household products are safe and natural is worth more than anything I could buy at the grocery store.

(I’m not perfect though. Not by a long shot. I still rely on the grocery store, on modern medicine, and on many modern conveniences to get by, but I balance it as much as I can:)

(Continued in comments…)

121 42

I’m all about practical gifts; Gifts that will truly make life easier and contribute to my and my family’s wellbeing. And our family includes our animals!

One of the ways we make sure our chickens are taken care of is by letting them free range during the day, but making sure they’re locked up and safe from predators at night. But who wants to be up at the crack of dawn to open the coop, or wake up to a bloodbath because you forgot to close the coop the night before?

(The answer is obviously no one… No one wants that).

Automating our homesteading tasks as much as possible allows us to worry about other things and saves us a ton of time. Plus, it makes sure that things get taken care of, whether we remember or not.

Using an automatic chicken door has been a GAME CHANGER for us. It’s one of those lesser known homestead tools that can make all the difference, and I’m always recommending one to anyone who keeps chickens!

This chicken door from @chickcozy_ is so easy to install and use too, and right now you can get one for a steal during their Black Friday sale!

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24 5

Yes, you read that right…

Modern Homesteading Magazine is coming to an end.

This decision has not come easily, but there’s a season for everything, and more and more I’m feeling called to transition out of this season and into the next in both life and business.

And so this final farewell issue is bittersweet. On the one hand, it’s the first ever annual issue, with 100 pages packed with brand new content that celebrates the best of the past 32 issues!

And it’s the first issue I’ve ever offered in PRINT!

But on the other hand, it marks the end of an era, and of this publication that I’ve absolutely had the pleasure of creating and sharing with you.

If you’re a digital subscriber, you will not be charged a renewal fee going forward, and will continue to have access to the digital library until your subscription runs out. As part of your subscription, you’re able to download and/or print each issue of you like, so that you never lose access to the hundreds of articles and vast amount of information in each issue.

Rather than subscribing, you can now purchase an all-access pass for a one-time fee of just $20, which gives you access to our entire digital library of issues.

Plus, for a limited time, when you purchase an all-access pass you’ll also get a gift certificate for a second all-access pass to gift to someone else.

I’m also still taking preorders for the print version of this special edition issue, but only for a few more weeks!

When you preorder the print issue, you’ll also get a digital copy of the special edition issue (this issue only), and will receive a print copy in the mail later this year (hopefully by Christmas so long as there are no shipping delays!)

Click the link in my profile or visit to check out the latest issue, purchase an all-access pass to the digital library and/or preorder the print issue today!

Thanks to everyone who has read the magazine over the past 4 years. I’m humbled and grateful for your support, and can’t wait to share whatever comes next:)

#modernhomesteading #homesteading #homesteadersofinstagram

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It’s easy to romanticize homesteading, but the truth is that those homegrown vegetables, those freshly laid eggs, that loaf of bread rising on the counter, and that pantry full of home-canned food takes time, effort and dedication. It doesn’t “just happen” overnight!

But if you work on learning one new skill at a time and gain confidence in it before moving onto the next, one day you’ll be looking back and marvelling at how far you’ve come.

That’s where I’m at now. Life today looks a lot different than it did 10 years ago, when our homesteading and self-reliance journey was just beginning.

Back then we still lived in our city condo and were just beginning to dabble in all of this stuff. But my husband Ryan and I felt a sense urgency to start pursuing a more self-reliant lifestyle, and we committed to taking small steps, one day at a time to make that vision a reality.

Over the years we’ve continued to put one foot in front of the other, adding new skills and tackling new projects along the way that have helped us get to where we are today.

While there’s always more we want to learn and do, as I look around me right now, I’m so grateful that we took those first steps, especially considering what’s happened in the world over the past few years!

If you’re also feeling the urgency to take the first (or next) steps toward a more self-reliant life, this is your final reminder that today is the last day to join The Society of Self-Reliance and start levelling up your homesteading and self-sufficiency skills so that you’ve got what it takes to:

• Grow your own groceries
• Stock your pantry
• Create a natural home
• Get prepared
• Learn other important life skills like time management for homesteaders, goal setting and how to become your own handyman

And more!

If you’ve been feeling called to level up your self-reliance skills (because let’s be honest, we’re in for a wild ride these next few years with everything going on in the world), now is the time to heed that call.

Link in profile to enroll before midnight tonight, or go to

#homesteading #selfreliance #selfsufficiency #homesteadingskills #preparedness

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