Matthew Larivee lives in a conventional house in Powassan, Ont., but he doesn't plan to do so for much longer.

Larivee hopes that in two or three years, he, his wife, and their two children will move into a yurt.

Larivee, owner of a 100-acre homestead, started building yurts in 2008 due to his interest in alternative and sustainable living. He lived in one in 2010, and now runs a yurt-building business and holds workshops in Ontario.

"When I found out about yurts, and started researching and learning about them, I really just fell in love and had to build one, and the rest is kind of history after that," he told CBC radio.

Yurts are portable, round, wood latticed-framed tents that are covered with canvas or felt. They have been homes to nomads in Central Asia for centuries. Modern yurts can be covered with cotton canvas or poly materials, and can include a reflective barrier that acts as insulation.

Larivee says building yurts has been a "life-changing experience" because it showed him Canadians don't have to live in big houses that are largely unaffordable. 

"It kind of took me away from our society and our culture that we have often forced upon everybody," he said.

"It took me back thousands of years to a place that we rarely visit anymore."

Larivee and his family currently live in a house on their farm, but he plans to transition everyone into a yurt. He plans to build several yurts that could house visiting friends and families or be rented out.

Asked about how his wife feels about the pending move, Larivee says she is looking forward to a more simple way of living.

"Right now we've got a house and a basement and upstairs — it's just so much stuff we have," he said.

"The nice thing about the yurt is it's a smaller space, so a lot less to take care of. That's what she's looking forward to."


This story is part of a series produced in Vancouver about alternative housing options across Canada