- Sarah K Brown, 32, built a geodesic dome to live in on her $32,000 plot of land
- She struggled to save enough money to buy a house with enough outside space
- Her family and friends spent three months helping her construct her new home
- She paid $3,200 for the dome and between $2,000 and $4,000 to get it ready
A 32-year-old retail worker has been living in a $3,200 geodesic dome for nine months - after she struggled to save enough money to leave her parents' home.
Sarah K Brown shares her structured tent in Fryeburg, South West Maine, with three Scottish Collies, seven collie puppies, nine Icelandic chickens, five chicks, six goats and a five-month-old kitten.
She paid $32,000 for almost 18 acres of land in February 2018, after a property boom meant she couldn't afford to buy a house with outside space for all her animals within her $100,000 budget.
'It had been my dream for a very long time to move out of my parents' house,' she said. 'I love my family but was at the stage in my life where I wanted a bit more space and independence.
'But I couldn't afford both my own home and the land to go with it - the housing market is booming in this area, and finding something in my price range with land too was so difficult.
'When I bought my land and realized I wouldn't be able to afford to build my own house on it, I started looking at alternative options.'
By December she found a 314sq-ft geodesic dome for sale on Facebook. After assembling her family and church friends in May 2019, the group spent three months building decking for the dome to sit on.
It took just a single day to build the structure and cover it in its skin.
'It was a group family effort to get the dome all ready,' she added. 'Now, a lot of people walk in and comment on how much bigger it looks than they thought it would, and how nice the light is.
'Really, I want to give credit to God for giving me the ability to think outside the box.
'My family also helped me build the dome, move things and even make chicken pens - if I ever need an extra hand, I can always call on them. My community and church family helped so much too.
'Despite being off living on my own, I'm not a hermit - I really see the value in community and in not losing bonds with other people.'
Geodesic domes are extremely strong and rigid because their hemisphere is based on polyhedrons, three-dimensional shapes with flat triangular faces, meaning they can withstand very heavy loads for their size.
She said: 'Until I saw the ad for my dome on Facebook, I didn't even know domes that you could live in existed.
'When I walked inside I was like "woah, this is neat" - because the ceiling is 12ft high it felt roomy, and was bright and airy.
'I knew I could picture myself living in it and it was definitely a bargain.'
Miss Brown estimates in total she spent an extra $2,000 to $4,000 USD (£1,600 - £3,300) on top of the cost of the structure getting it ready to live in and now spends less than $200 USD (£160) a month on her mortgage, with her only extra costs groceries, petrol and her phone bill.
'I liked the idea of reducing expenses and I was able to pay cash for the dome, so my primary monthly expense now is just my mortgage,' she added.
'When I was first looking to buy my own home, living in a dome would never have crossed my mind.
'But for me it was a matter of necessity, I wanted to get onto the land inexpensively and was willing to set aside some comforts in order to do that.
'It's amazing to have a space I can say is mine and to be able to show would-be house buyers there are more creative ways to own their first home.
'And it's definitely fun telling people about my "dome, sweet dome".'
She initially discovered the unique dome after spending hours trawling online ads for a yurt, tiny house or shed which could be converted into a home after researching alternative ways of living on Pinterest.
Since she moved into the 20ft across by 12ft high space last August, Miss Brown has enjoyed having her own space but struggled with staying warm enough during the snowy Maine winter, as the dome did not retain heat well, and with being too hot in the summer.
She said: 'I don't have a TV, but I definitely like not having the noise of electronics in the background - you can hear the birds chirping.
'It's so nice to be free from a lot of clutter, you have to prioritize what you can bring into such a small space.
'I like hearing the rain on the dome and looking out of the windows and seeing God's creation - it's freeing, a step away from modern society.
'I always loved the idea of farming, and my Scottish Collies love to herd.'
She does all her cooking on a camping cookstove and has a wood stove to warm the space, a propane fridge to store food, a composting toilet hidden behind a privacy screen, a 14ft well providing fresh water, camping solar shower bags to have a warm shower and a sink running into a gray water system.
Her parents live a 20-minute drive away, so she uses their home to shower and charge backup battery packs.
Next, she plans to install a solar panel system to bring electricity to the dome, before eventually building a cottage on the land with the long-term goal of becoming completely self-sufficient, growing what she eats and earning an income by raising rare breed chickens.
She said: 'In future I would love to have a smallholding on the land, growing and raising most of what I eat and providing an income from home.
'While I currently work in retail, I would love to be working with my hands.
'I'm no one special - there are tonnes of people homesteading doing a much better job than I am - but the whole "off-grid" thing definitely encourages creativity.