Your Name, PCT
Post Office Box 1036
Central Post Office
Mongolia (via China)
Your Name, PCT
АНУ-ын Энх тайвны корпус
Шуудангийн хайрцаг 1036
Mongolia (via China)
TelephonesCellphone service is very common in Mongolia. After completing training and swearing-in as a Volunteer, you will receive a Peace Corps-issued cellphone. Some Volunteers call home using an Internet phone service; the cost is generally whatever the charge is for the Internet connection. Note that many cellphones purchased in the U.S. will not work in Mongolia, so verify that your phone is CDMA or GSM compatible if bringing a smartphone.
InternetIf you bring your own computer, remember that the weather in Mongolia can be hard on LCD screens and electronic equipment may be damaged by power surges. You should consider insuring your computer. Most provincial centers now have access to the Internet, usually at the local post office or telecom center. While Internet cafes in Ulaanbaatar are common, connections are improving in smaller towns and communities. Most provincial centers now have access to the Internet, usually at the local post office or telecom center.
Housing and Site LocationDuring pre-service training you will live with a host family. During your two years of service, Volunteers live in small family compounds or in separate apartments, depending on what is available at their site. Most sites are located either in a provincial town center (aimag in Mongolian) anywhere from 50 to almost 2,000 kilometers (31 to 1,240 miles) by road from the capital, or in provincial villages (soums) that are up to four hours by car from an aimag.
A few Volunteers are assigned to Ulaanbaatar. Increasingly, Volunteers in Mongolia live in either gers (yurts) or wooden houses, sharing a compound with a Mongolian family. Enhanced cultural interaction, improved language skills, and greater Volunteer safety have all resulted from this living arrangement. City Volunteers may live in apartments. Electric current in Mongolia runs at 220-240 volts, 50 cycles with outlets take European-style round pin plugs. A ger is a round tent of about 20 feet in diameter, made of a wooden lattice covered with thick felt. The inside consists of one room with furniture around the circumference and a wood stove in the center.
Living Allowance and Money ManagementVolunteers receive a monthly allowance in local currency that is sufficient to live at the level of the local people. The allowance covers food, housing, household supplies, clothing, transportation to and from work, utilities, recreation and entertainment, and incidental expenses. Peace Corps Volunteers are expected to live at a level that is comparable with that of their host country counterparts. The Peace Corps discourages Volunteers from supplementing their living allowance with funds from home. However, Volunteers often wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. For this, credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash. If you choose to bring extra money, bring the amount that will suit your own travel plans and needs.
U.S. dollars can be exchanged at various places in Ulaanbaatar, including hotels, the Trade and Development Bank, post offices, and legal money exchange facilities. Depending on the size of your community, you may be able to change money there as well. Many places will not exchange for U.S. dollars that are old and wrinkled; they like pristine bills. Also, the exchange rate is slightly lower for traveler’s checks of any size or bills in denominations smaller than $50. There are two options for getting cash transferred from the United States. The cheapest and easiest is using an ATM machine. There are internationally connected ATMs around Ulaanbaatar. Some do not have local fees, but your U.S. bank may charge you to use them. While credit cards are of limited use in Mongolia, they are accepted by major hotels, restaurants, and shops in Ulaanbaatar and may come in handy when traveling outside the country. Traveler’s checks can be purchased at the Trade and Development Bank in Ulaanbaatar and cashed there for a 2 percent fee. Although few retail outfits in Mongolia will accept them, they are useful for travel in other countries in the region. Personal checks are not accepted in Mongolia.