Ultimate Guide to Relocation to Mongolia 2023

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by Claire Sturaker


There has never been a more exciting time to consider a relocation to Mongolia. Often overshadowed by its gigantic neighbors, this central Asian gem is now sparkling on the radar of adventurous expatriates and those seeking a profound change of scenery. Whether drawn by the untamed landscapes or the prospect of economic opportunities, moving to Mongolia is a journey that promises the unexpected and the exhilarating.

With this comprehensive Mongolia expat guide, we dive into what it truly means to transition your life to the land where the skies are vast and the cultures are rich. Known not only for its nomadic traditions and a growing urban hub but also for the challenges and growth prospects it offers, Mongolia beckons with the allure of a life less ordinary. Prepare to immerse yourself in an experience that will redefine your concept of home and adventure.

Embarking on a New Adventure: Moving to Mongolia

For those drawn to the allure of untamed wilderness and unique cultural experiences, moving to Mongolia is the beginning of a remarkable chapter. This Mongolia relocation guide aims to navigate you through the practical pathways that lead to the expansive landscapes of Mongolia, where modernity meets millennia-old traditions.

Aerial routes to your new home typically converge on the vibrant city of Ulaanbaatar, accessible via direct flights from key Asian capitals such as Beijing, Seoul, and Moscow. Upon landing, the juxtaposition of Mongolia’s modern aspirations against a backdrop of historic customs immediately captures the imagination.

The Trans-Mongolian Railway, an iconic testament to engineering and endurance, offers an alternative, unforgettable entry point into Mongolia’s heart from neighboring China or Russia. Travel by rail is not just a journey; it’s a passage through varied scenes – from vast steppes to the edges of the Gobi Desert.

  • Direct Flights to Ulaanbaatar – Key cities include: Beijing, Seoul, Moscow
  • Trans-Mongolian Railway – An epic journey offering a view of Mongolia’s transition from urban to untamed terrain
  • Overland Travel – For those seeking adventure beyond the beaten path, venture by bus from Beijing across the Mongolian border

Geographically, with an area covering over 1.5 million square kilometers and a population density that underscores its expansive nature, Mongolia serves as a canvas for the imagination. For those with an affinity for the outdoors, it is a paradise of endless grasslands, rugged mountains, and an arid desert that beckons the brave.

As you consider the logistics of your move, the following elements are crucial in preparing for your Mongolian expedition:

  1. Understanding regional travel options both into and within Mongolia
  2. Familiarizing yourself with geographical highlights that contribute to the overall experience
  3. Embracing the nomadic culture and the unique way of life it presents
  4. Anticipating the joys of discovery that await in Mongolia’s vastness

Whether your interest lies in seeking solitude amongst the steppes or engaging with a lifestyle that celebrates mobility and the environment, moving to Mongolia invites you to partake in an adventure that is as vast as the land itself.

Relocation to Mongolia: Essential Preparations for a Smooth Transition

Embarking on the journey of relocation to Mongolia calls for comprehensive preparations to ensure a smooth and successful transition. With distinct elements such as Mongolia visa requirements and adapting to the extreme climate, expatriates must be methodical in their approach. This section delves into the critical preparations needed when considering living in Mongolia.

One of the first steps in the process involves understanding and complying with the immigration and visa policies of Mongolia. Here is what prospective residents need to know:

  • All travelers entering Mongolia, with the intention to stay, require a visa unless they are from one of the visa-exempt countries.
  • Registration with the Mongolian Immigration Agency is mandatory for stays longer than 30 days to avoid any legal complications.
  • Securing a work permit is crucial for those intending to engage in employment during their stay.
  • If your stay extends beyond 90 days, an exit visa becomes a requirement, a factor that travelers should plan for in advance.

Mongolia’s extreme seasonal shifts, characterized by harsh winters and brief summers, are another factor that expatriates should prepare for. Adequate preparation for the weather is not only about comfort but also about safety. Below are a few recommendations to help manage the climatic conditions:

  1. Invest in high-quality thermal clothing to withstand the cold, especially during Ulaanbaatar’s freezing winters—considered the coldest of any national capital.
  2. Prepare for the surprisingly warm and short summers with lighter clothing and adequate sun protection.
  3. Understand the local housing insulation standards and ensure your accommodation is appropriately equipped to handle temperature fluctuations.

Integrating into Mongolian society also entails an openness to the culture and customs of this fascinating country. Before arriving, taking time to learn basic Mongolian phrases and familiarizing yourself with local traditions will greatly enhance your living experience.

As you plan your move, remember that preparation is key. From understanding paperwork to physically and mentally preparing for the new environment, the groundwork you put in is directly proportional to the ease of your adaptation to life in Mongolia.

A Closer Look at Ulaanbaatar: Adapting to City Life

When it comes to living in Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar stands as the beating heart of the nation, an urban enclave in a land dominated by wide-open spaces and skyscraping mountains. For those considering the Mongolia expat guide, a peek into Ulaanbaatar life reveals the paradox of historical allure entwined with contemporary upheaval. Expats are drawn by the city’s charm that resonates through its bustling streets, vibrant culture and the juxtaposition of its modern high-rises against the backdrop of ancient temples.

Ulaanbaatar City Life

However, Ulaanbaatar’s cosmopolitan beat is not without its challenges. The city, while pulsating with life, suffers from considerable pollution, primarily attributed to the coal that powers the city’s energetic sprawl. As newcomers step into this dynamic setting, they often grapple with concerns ranging from environmental to linguistic. Yet, perseverance brings proficiency, and expats learn the ebb and flow of city life, mastering the art of interaction even when faced with the complexities of a new tongue.

One must note that “Mongolian time” could be an amicable test to one’s patience, as schedules and punctuality may carry a different significance here. For those attuned to the tick-tock of more regimented societies, adjusting to this more fluid sense of time is a cultural evolution – one perhaps linked to the country’s nomadic roots and vast, unhurried landscapes.

Infrastructure in Ulaanbaatar contrasts sharply with the more predictable systems of Western urban settings. International residents in Ulaanbaatar may find a city in transition, with services and amenities that run the gamut from traditional to contemporary. Patience and adaptability become invaluable currencies as one navigates the peculiarities of day-to-day life here.

  1. Understanding the Public Transport System
  2. Finding Accommodation that Balances Comfort with Authenticity
  3. Exploring Local Cuisine and International Fare
  4. Engaging with the Community through Culture and Recreation

The lifeblood of any city is its people, and Ulaanbaatar is no different. Despite any logistical wrinkles, it’s the warmth of Mongolian hospitality that often makes the deepest impression on expats. Through shared meals, celebrations, and daily interactions, foreigners become part of the Ulaanbaatar tapestry, weaving their own stories into the rich mosaic of city life.

Mongolia’s Cost of Living: Planning Your Financial Future

When considering moving to Mongolia, the cost of living is a primary factor that attracts many expatriates. With Mongolia cost of living being quite affordable, it becomes imperative to look at the various expenses one can expect to incur. Contrary to many Western countries, you will find that your financial reach extends further here, enabling a comfortable lifestyle without breaking the bank.

Rent is the biggest monthly expense for most expats, but even in the bustling capital, Ulaanbaatar, housing remains reasonably priced. At the same time, daily necessities like food, transportation, and utilities are also more budget-friendly. Though these expenses are notably lower, those seeking Western amenities or imported goods should anticipate higher spending, as these items come at a premium.

To provide a clearer picture of the costs associated with living in Mongolia, let’s explore some average monthly expenses:

Expense Category Cost (USD)
Basic Apartment Rent $300 – $500
Utilities (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) $50 – $100
Internet and Mobile Phone $20 – $40
Groceries and Household Items $150 – $300
Dining Out and Entertainment $100 – $200
Transportation (Public and Occasional Taxi) $15 – $50
Health Insurance and Medical Costs $40 – $100
Leisure and Fitness Activities $30 – $80

For someone relying on an external source of income, such as remote work or a pension, the cost of living in Mongolia provides an opportunity to maximize savings while enjoying a unique cultural experience. It offers the chance to indulge in the rich heritage and stunning natural environments of Mongolia without the financial strain often found in more developed nations.

Aside from the quantifiable costs, living economically in Mongolia also depends on one’s ability to adapt to local norms—shopping at local markets, eating local cuisine, and using public transportation can significantly cut down expenses. Engaging with the community and learning from long-term expats or locals themselves can reveal cost-saving tips that will aid in maintaining a balanced budget.

In conclusion, the transitioning process of moving to Mongolia, paired with a manageable Mongolia cost of living, presents an appealing financial scenario for expatriates. With proper planning and local insights, one can effectively enjoy the adventures that Mongolian life has to offer without undue financial stress.

Job Hunting in Mongolia: A Guide to Mongolia Work Opportunities

For job seekers and professionals, the promise of Mongolia work opportunities is growing as the country’s economy expands. Navigating the job prospects in Mongolia, particularly for expatriates, means understanding the sectors driving development and being proactive in your employment approach.

Leading industries such as mining offer a wealth of positions for skilled individuals, while finance and education are sectors hungry for international expertise. A strategic job hunt is necessary for success in this market, and here are some steps to consider:

  • Use online platforms and resources dedicated to job listings in Mongolia for preliminary research.
  • Engage in networking both online and offline, attending industry-related events and connecting with expat communities.
  • Align your qualifications with the needs of Mongolian companies to stand out in your applications.
  • Reach out to multinational corporations operating in Mongolia for opportunities that may not be widely advertised.

Securing employment before making the big move is advisable, as it simplifies the process of obtaining necessary documentation like work permits and visas. Although embarking on a new career path here can seem daunting, the dynamic and evolving nature of Mongolia’s job market makes it an exciting frontier for those willing to explore it.

Finding work in Mongolia also means preparing to adapt to a different business culture and work ethic. It is a country of vast contrasts and opportunities, where tradition meets modernization, and where your professional journey can be as unique as the landscape itself.

Embracing the Nomadic Lifestyle: Living with the Locals

For those curious about living in Mongolia, the true spirit of the land is best understood by interacting with its indigenous nomadic population. The remarkable legacy of nomadism offers an authentic glimpse into Mongolia’s pastoral traditions and provides practical lessons in sustainable living. Engaging with these communities not only fosters cultural exchange but also enhances your experience as an expat in this majestic country. Here, you find not just an exotic living arrangement but a timeless bond with nature and an age-old wisdom passed through generations.

Mongolian nomads are revered for their hospitality, often welcoming strangers into their gers with open arms and the warmth of a traditional milk tea. Expats looking to immerse themselves in this way of life can expect to learn about traditional skills such as horseback riding, livestock herding, and the art of making airag (fermented mare’s milk). This profound connection to the land and to the cycles of nature is a cornerstone of the nomadic lifestyle that defines so much of this nation’s character.

Mongolia Expat Guide

Becoming part of a nomadic community, even if temporarily, often requires adjustments and openness to new experiences. Below is an insightful comparison between urban living in Ulaanbaatar and the nomadic lifestyle found in the Mongolian steppes.

Aspect Urban Living in Ulaanbaatar Nomadic Lifestyle
Housing Apartment rentals and modern housing Gers (traditional Mongolian tents)
Transportation Public buses, taxis, and private vehicles Horseback, riding animals, and motorbikes for long distances
Community Diverse, international expat networks Tight-knit, family-centered herder communities
Food Supermarkets, restaurants with diverse cuisines Self-sustained, based on livestock and dairy products
Entertainment Theater, cinema, nightlife, and cultural events Nature activities, traditional festivals, and storytelling
Lifestyle Fast-paced, structured urban routine Seasonal, in harmony with the natural environment

For potential expats, becoming acquainted with the nomadic communities serves as more than just an adventure; it is an encounter with the bedrock of Mongolian culture. It’s an enriching chapter of the Mongolia expat guide that paints a vivid picture of resilience, resourcefulness, and the deep connection between Mongolians and their cherished steppes. Those who choose to live and learn amongst these nomadic custodians of history inevitably walk away with an expanded worldview and a resilience that mirrors the indomitable spirit of Mongolia itself.

Transportation Tips: From the Trans-Mongolian Railway to Local Buses

For those moving to Mongolia, understanding the practicalities of Mongolia transportation is essential. With a well-coordinated system that defies the country’s vastness, here are some tips on navigating Mongolia with ease:

  • Mongolia’s pride, the Trans-Mongolian Railway, is not just a logistical lifeline but a cultural experience, connecting Ulaanbaatar with major cities in Russia and China.
  • Local buses serve as the veins of intercity connection, providing regular service between towns and key regions.
  • While driving may offer freedom, it demands caution due to challenging terrain and high accident rates, hence usually being discouraged for expats.

Advance planning is key when traveling by rail or road, especially during holidays or the peak tourist season. It’s a good idea to purchase tickets early and to familiarize oneself with local transport schedules to ensure a smooth journey.

Exercising caution on Mongolian roads cannot be overstressed, as conditions can range from paved highways to unpaved rural tracks that require vigilant driving.

Navigating Mongolia Visa Requirements for International Movers

Understanding Mongolia visa requirements is a critical step in the process of relocation to Mongolia. Whether you are planning a short visit or a long-term stay, it’s vital to be informed about the visa policies that pertain to your situation. While some travelers may enjoy visa exemption for brief periods, others must undertake a thorough application process for extended residence. For those looking to set down roots, a variety of visas are available depending on the purpose of your stay, ranging from investor visas to employment visas, each with its own set of criteria and benefits.

For individuals considering a more permanent move, exploring the option of permanent residency may be beneficial. This typically requires not only an adequate investment but also a comprehensive understanding of the local immigration laws. Keeping up to date with the ever-evolving visa regulations and maintaining a good relationship with local authorities are key to ensuring your transition to a new life in Mongolia is as smooth as possible.

  • Short-term visitors from certain countries may not require a visa.
  • Visa applications are necessary for many foreigners seeking long-term residence.
  • Investor and employment visas are available for those looking to work or invest in Mongolia.
  • Adherence to local laws and regulations is essential to avoid complications.

Streamlining your visa application and approval process involves gathering accurate information and preparing all the required documents in advance. It’s recommended to begin this process well before your intended move to avoid any delays that might disrupt your relocation plans.

Adapting to the Extreme Weather: Surviving Mongolia’s Climate

For those planning a relocation to Mongolia, the stark reality of the nation’s extreme weather conditions cannot be overstated. Within these broad expanses, temperatures are a testament to the region’s continental climate, fluctuating from bone-chilling lows to sweltering highs. It is commonplace for the mercury to plummet to a frigid -40°C during the long, punishing winters. Conversely, the height of summer unveils a different kind of intensity with peaks that can surge to an arid 45°C. Shifting comfortably between these extremes requires much more than a resilient spirit; it demands practical preparation and the right gear.

With the honor of being dubbed the world’s sunniest country, Mongolia graces its inhabitants with over 250 days of golden rays annually. This abundance of sunlight, though a boon for sun-seekers and adventure lovers, presents unique challenges. Protective layers which can adapt from chilly mornings to warm afternoons are not just recommended, they’re a staple for daily life. Future residents should stock their wardrobes with thermal insulation gear, windproof jackets, and moisture-wicking materials for the winters and lightweight, breathable fabrics for the summer months. Given Mongolia’s propensity for rapid weather shifts, readiness is the linchpin of comfort and safety.

The climate in Mongolia is not only a personal comfort issue but also a broader environmental one, as certain regions are prone to dzuds—a Mongolian term for a severe winter that can devastate livestock, a cornerstone of the local agricultural economy. Residency in such a place is as much about understanding and adapting to the environment as it is about seizing opportunities. Those considering the move must stay informed and remain adaptable to the extreme weather conditions that sculpt the very foundation of life in Mongolia. Embracing the climate landscape is a decisive step in assimilating into this beautiful, rugged country—a critical aspect for all mulling over their relocation to Mongolia.

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Claire Sturaker
Claire, PhD in Luggage Logistics and Master of International Relocation Sciences, navigates the globe with the precision of a Swiss watch and the enthusiasm of a kid in a candy store. Whether she’s detailing the art of cramming life into a suitcase or choosing the perfect city for your study-abroad adventure, the tips in her articles turn daunting travel dilemmas into why-didn’t-I-think-of-that settled decisions. With more diplomas than a wall can hold, Claire is your go-to guru for shipping your life across borders with a smile.
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