16 houses built in seemingly impossible locations

A monastery high on a hill. Shutterstock
  • From remote private islands to hilltops that seem impossible to access, homes can be found in extreme locations around the globe.
  • A monastery on a Bhutan rock face houses monks, some of whom don’t traverse down the valley for years.
  • Workers of a Chinese mall live in homes on the roof.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Everyone needs some form of shelter, but not everyone is happy with urban or even suburban lifestyles. Some prefer to live as far away from other people as possible.

In the most extreme cases, that means going where no dwellers have gone before.

Chris Weller contributed to a previous version of this article.

Near the Serbian town of Bajina Basta, a house has stood on top of a rock in the middle of the River Drina for 50 years.

The house teeters on a rock. Marko Djurica/Reuters

The house, which was built in 1968, has been destroyed multiple times by rising waters, but it has always been rebuilt.

An island known as “Just Room Enough Island” is one of the famous Thousand Islands that straddle the US-Canada border in the Saint Lawrence River.

That’s one way to get away from the neighbours. Barker Jarvis/Shutterstock

The family living in the home even has its own beach.

In Warsaw, a micro-home called the Keret House is squeezed between two other buildings.

A passerby takes a photo of the Keret House. Kacper Pempel/Reuters

It’s only 36 inches wide at its widest point.

Coober Pedy is an opal mining town in Australia where 80% of people have moved underground to escape the scorching 120-degree heat.

Inside one of the underground homes. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

People have lived there for over 100 years. See more photos of Coober Pedy here.

In Northern England, tree houses have historically served as a form of protest. For over four years, residents fought to prevent the historic Nine Ladies site in Stanton Lees from getting quarried for gritstone.

Treehouses in Stanton Lees, England. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

During that time, they lived in the trees.

When he was 26, software developer Joel Allen built his own version of a treehouse in Whistler, Canada. Its design is a little more polished than your average treehouse.

Allen’s treehouse. Joel Allen

It blends in perfectly with its surroundings.

In China’s Guangdong province, two houses built in 2011 sit directly atop a factory building.

The homes look precariously placed. Reuters

According to Chinese media, the final product exceeded the size plans for the houses, making them technically illegal.

In 2013, 25 luxury houses were built illegally on top of a local shopping mall in Hengyang, Hunan province.

Rooftop homes. Reuters

They were later used as dorms for employees from the mall.

The Paro Taktsang Monastery is tucked away on a rock face in Bhutan’s Paro Valley. The complex has been around since the 17th century.

Paro Taktsang Monastery is a sacred site. Traveller. P/Shutterstock

Monks who practice the local form of Buddhism can spend years in the temple and never go down into the valley.

Even further removed is the complex of monasteries known as Meteora in Greece. They sit atop sandstone pillars.

Meteora has a view of the town below. Shutterstock

The places of worship have been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Humans have been seeking out remote locations for centuries. Approximately 300 years ago, Iceland’s Elliðaey Island was home to five families who hosted passing puffin hunters.

The island has extreme cliffs. Chulanga/Shutterstock

As if the island wasn’t isolated enough, the families also built a fence around their property.

Some people prefer to create their own sanctuaries, like the Skysphere in New Zealand.

The Skysphere. Courtesy of Jono Williams

Engineer Jono Williams’ home comes complete with app-controlled lighting fixtures, a voice-controlled beer dispenser in the couch, and the ability to go into locked-down “zombie mode.”

The Lagangarbh Hut is the only building to be found near the mountain Buachaille Etive Mòr in the Scottish Highlands.

The Lagangarbh Hut. Arterra/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

The former crofting home is owned by the National Trust of Scotland and visitors can stay there throughout the year.

This tiny house is on Fordypningsrommet Fleinvær, an island off Norway, and gives visitors incredible views of the Northern Lights.

The Arctic Hideaway. Courtesy Dave Cornthwaite

It’s part of a hotel called the Arctic Hideaway. The island is so remote you have to charter a boat or take a ferry. There are no cars or restaurants on the island.

Then there are the houses that become impossible-looking because of their surroundings. In China, so-called “nail houses” emerge when development continues around a house after its owners refuse to leave.

A ‘nail house.’ China Stringer Network/Reuters

This home sits in the middle of roads under construction.

Similarly, in Turkey, the “Lone House” belonged to a family who fought to keep it from getting demolished.

The Lone House. Murad Sezer/Reuters

However, they ultimately had to leave.