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Left NY To Build Tiny Homestead Atop a Remote Volcano


15 years ago, Jade Chen left New York City to settle on a remote lava field far from any store or utility. She bought 1/6 of an acre on top of a neighborhood that had been buried in the 1990 eruption. Jade was one of the first to return to the area but slowly others joined, and now despite being far from the grid, there are dozens of homes here, capturing the sun and rain.

source.image: Kirsten Dirksen

Her property came with an unfinished home and she has slowly turned it into 3 units which she uses for nightly rentals and yoga classes.Some of Jade’s renters have gone on to buy properties and are now her neighbors (she now manages 10 homes in the area).

Some of her Jade’s tenants have bought their own lots and built their own floating homes. Treehouse builder Will Beilharz lofted his Phoenix and Ohana houses several feet above the lava so in the event of another eruption, they can be scooped up and carried off on tractor-trailers.


Our family spent the night in the Phoenix house, and its adjacent escape pod, which are equipped with a tin wash-basin sink, a camp stove, and showers that drain right onto the lava. Outside, a 5000-gallon tank holds rainwater captured from the roofs.