Kim Aperloo is a 30-year-old social worker from Masterton who is getting ready to move into her first home. She considered living in a converted bus to keep things affordable—she has several friends who live in a variety of tiny houses—but the idea of a yurt entered her head, and it never left.

The design is associated with natives of North America and Mongolia, but Kim’s first taste of tiny living was a two-year stint in Rwanda. Kim spent much of her time in a small house with no running water, a gas stove, and few electric appliances. She says she loved the simple existence: “I realised you don’t need much.”

Back in NZ, she rented a granny flat and began planning a living arrangement to pro- vide financial independence and a lifestyle that suited her.

Kim found Jaia Yurts, based in the Coromandel, and purchased her 34-square-metre home for $28,300.

The land she found on Facebook Marketplace for $150,000 is a hilly, off-grid hectare about 45 minutes from her job and family in Masterton.
“I knew instantly this was the place that I wanted,” she says. It’s in the bush, has its own spring water, and lies just 10km from Castlepoint—“my favourite place on earth.” Another beautiful beach is only 2.5km away.

The yurt took seven months to arrive and then it sat, unassembled, on her par- ents’ property for another six months be- fore the site was ready. Wooden poles and lattice make up the frame, it has a canvas skin, and a layer of insulation lies between the two. Her family finally transported its pieces down the 300m clay track—an adventure in itself—and erected it on its circular foundation at the end of September.
Kim financed the project by borrowing from family members. She found that banks wouldn’t lend on a section like hers, even with a large deposit.

Fortunately, her costs are a fraction of a traditional build’s. Kim also kept them low by creatively sourcing materials. One sister had plywood to recycle, other family members provided inexpensive second-hand bathroom and kitchen fittings, and some lent free or discounted labour. A year’s worth of op shop visits helped her kit out the interior at a fraction of what furnishings would cost new.

The solar panels and battery cost $6,700 through GridFree, gas will heat the water, and she’ll install a second-hand gas oven for cooking.
Kim estimates that the final bill when she moves in late 2022 will be around $230,000. Aside from petrol costs, her living expenses will be enviably low, which means she could repay her loans a decade or two earlier than a typical mortgage.

Does she see herself in a yurt long-term? With a family? No, Kim doesn’t think that yurt life would be practical. But while it’s just her—and her chickens and garden—yes.