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Not Your Average Yurt

Mountain Life

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Taos, N.M.

What might be perceived as a primitive structure required two years of research, four years of planning and¿after the initial six-hour assembly process¿far more elbow grease than the typical American home. But it’s worth it, vows owner Lisa Mower (pictured), who moved into the yurt two years ago in search of a simpler lifestyle: “Simpler has a different definition than I originally thought. You actually do more with the yurt than with a ‘push button’ house. But, I like it; it lends value to each experience and importance to each day.”

Just 31 miles outside Taos Ski Valley, the 24-foot-diameter home is the epicenter of a six-building compound that includes a fully insulated wooden cabin with a bunk and wood-burning stove, a shed, a mini barn, a fully insulated outhouse with inflow and outflow vents and a hacienda. That’s not to mention a wood-fired hot tub, an abundant garden and a solar-powered electric fence (to keep the dogs in and the cattle out).

Though it may seem that a cold winter would be interminable while living in this polyester home, keenly built systems provide plenty of heat. The skylight brings in warmth and an insulating layer of bubble wrap covered with NASA space foil keeps it inside. Retractable awnings zip down over windows to seal out drafts. And when it’s excessively cold, a thermostat triggers a propane heater.

Most of the amenities of a traditional home can be found in the 452-square-foot structure. A 2,500 gallon catchment tank ensures constant water supply. A propane-powered hot water heater holds 40 gallons, and a pressure tank moves 40 gallons of water per square inch. The home is fully equipped with a refrigerator (with freezer), a three-watt phone with a booster antenna, a wood cooking range with a double warming oven and 31 candle-powered kerosene lamps.

If it’s so decked out, why sell it? “I commute 43 miles a day to work.” It’s an offensive distance to someone aspiring toward a Spartan lifestyle.

It’s high in privacy: The closest neighbor is at least a quarter-mile away. But when it gets cold, that neighbor will usually drive his home¿a Volkswagen bus¿to warmer climes.

Although the taxes on the home are just $10 per year, it actually costs an annual average of $2,700 to keep the compound running¿not quite the expense-free lifestyle associated with yurt living.

PRICE $65,000 for entire compound
LOCATION 21 miles west of Taos in T.P. Estates, a defunct housing development that was surveyed and zoned for roads and lots in 1963.
LISTING BROKER Page Sullivan, Lota Realty, Inc., 505-758-8673;