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 (extreme cold and dust) can be hard on them and electronic equipment may be damaged by power surges. You should consider insuring your computer. All provincial centers have access to the Internet, and most PCVs can get internet at home. Internet cafes are also common in provincial centers. Internet connections are improving in smaller towns and communities. Most schools that PCVs work at will have internet through an Ethernet cord at a minimum.
Housing and Site Location
During 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 permanent site. Volunteers sharing a compound with a Mongolian family may live in their own ger (yurt) or wooden house. 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. Enhanced cultural interaction, improved language skills, and greater Volunteer safety have all resulted from this living arrangement. Other Volunteers in areas with a larger population may live in apartments.
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.
Electric current in Mongolia runs at 220-240 volts, 50 cycles with outlets take European-style round pin plugs.
Living Allowance and Money Management
Volunteers receive a monthly allowance in local currency that is sufficient to live at the level of their local community. 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 are preferable to cash. If you bring cash, it is recommended to bring new, crisp $20 bills because they are the easiest to exchange. 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 and a select number of cities in Mongolia. It is possible to exchange money at a variety of locations, including legal money exchange facilities (State Department Store, Flower Center, etc.) and most major bank branches. 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. There are two options for getting cash transferred from the United States. The cheapest and easiest is using an ATM machine. ATM machines in urban areas are often internationally connected. Some do not have local fees, but your U.S. bank may charge you to use them. While debit/credit cards are becoming more useful in Mongolia, they are not accepted everywhere. They are able to be used at most hotels, restaurants, and shops in Ulaanbaatar and some urban areas. They also come in handy when traveling outside the country. In smaller shops and markets around Mongolia, retailers are still heavily reliant on cash (Mongolian Tugrik). Traveler’s checks are outdated and are not commonly accepted in Mongolia. Personal checks are not accepted in Mongolia.