Living In Mongolia

by Daniel

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for the online travel guide you have created about Mongolia! It's very informative and fun to read! My family are thinking of moving to Mongolia but there are some concerns, which I am hoping if you can shed some light on:

1. Clean water - I heard that water in Mongolia is contaminated and clean water is scarce. How do you or the people living there cope with this issue?

2. Air pollution - I heard that the air quality in UB can be very bad especially in winter. Is it becominh a health hazard? My son is asthmatic so I am concerned. Is air pollution also pervalent in other cities? I am considering Erdenet, Darkhan or Bayankhongor as alternative cities to stay in. Do you have any comments about these cities? Or are there other cities good for consideration?

3. How do you deal with the extreme variation in climate? Is heating system in place for all cities and is there affordable winter wear that we can buy when we visit Mongolia?

Look forward to hearing from you. Thank you!

Best Regards,

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Living Conditions In Mongolia
by: Andy

Hello Daniel,

Thanks for your questions.

Here are some answers...

1. Clean water - not really a big problem. My family always boils the water first - in the office we filter it (we live in Ulaan Baatar). I sometimes meet over cautious foreigners who boil their water before brushing their teeth - but this is really unnecessary.

There is no real shortage either- unless you are planning to live as a nomad in the Gobi, with a few hundred head of cattle. Mining may challenge water supplies in remote areas - but for now, there is no need to worry.

If you did venture into the steppe or desert it's a good idea to take water purifying tablets with you. What's good for the locals may well upset your stomach!l

Bottled water is widely available!

2. Air pollution - The winter pollution in UB is a health hazard. The government should be able to resolve this problem quickly - but the problem isn't getting any better. If you are in UB in winter then a good face mask when you're outside, and an air purifier at home should prevent most of the pollution from reaching you.

But I do know of some foreigners who have moved to Darkan and Erdenet in order to escape the pollution.

Another solution would be to live an hour or two outside of UB - for example, in Handgait or Sanzai - some are moving to these areas to escape the pollution in UB. The advantage of these areas is that UB is close enough for a weekly shop, or even daily commute. And the advantage of UB is that it has a few decent hospitals which would be able to cope with an asthmatic or other medical emergency!

My best advice is to come to UB in the summer - when the pollution isn't so bad, and then explore.

3. Extreme Climate Variation - Mongolia has a very dry atmosphere, this makes summer very pleasant - and takes the bite out of the winter cold. Yes, winter gets down to minus 40 Celsius! But once you've got down below minus 20 you can't feel the difference - you can't feel anything ;)

I haven't personally found it that hard to deal with - and I often walk in these temperatures for an hour at a time.

My advice is to buy thermal underwear before you come here - these kinds of products are often poor quality and expensive in Mongolia.

But Mongolia is not without its creature comforts - it's the home of cashmere for a start. Amazingly a single pair of cashmere gloves is enough to keep my hands warm in minus 40 - a couple of pairs and they are toasty warm. Camel hair products are also easy to buy, and even warmer!

As for homes - it depends on where you live. These days the newer apartments are very well insulated - my home gets so warm I sometimes need to open a window. The older Russian and Chinese built lodgings can get a bit chilly - but not dangerously so.

All the best,

by: Anonymous

I lived in UB for 2 years in a 6 storey high rise in the Zaisan area. Electricity and water can be very spotty not just for hours but sometimes days. Be prepared!

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