For any expatriate looking for adventure and the chance to experience a country still in touch with its nature and ancient traditions, Mongolia is the perfect destination.
In Mongolia, there are essentially two types of place: the city and the steppe. The biggest city is the country’s capital Ulaanbaatar, where 46% of the country’s tiny population resides and most of the country’s economy and infrastructure is based. Much of the remaining population still lives a completely nomadic lifestyle. As a result, most expatriates will choose to reside in Ulaanbaatar if seeking gainful employment, unless they plan on becoming a full-time nomad.
Traditionally, education in Mongolia was controlled by Buddhist monasteries and only given to monks; the language of instruction was Tibetan. In the 20th century, however, big reforms to education were made during communist rule. Literacy rates vastly improved after the reforms, primarily due to the introduction of free primary education. These changes also resulted in Cyrillic becoming the official script.
Today, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science oversees education in the country. Education is compulsory for children aged 8 to 15 years. There is an extensive pre-school education system that is financed by the state, resulting in there being over 700 state and private kindergartens throughout Mongolia.
The best schools in the country are located in Ulaanbaatar. Here you will find a range of kindergartens, primary schools, middle schools and secondary schools - both public and private. Expats parents living in Mongolia usually choose one of the international schools that can be found in the capital city. These include the British School and the International School of Ulaanbaatar which generally follow a British and American curriculum, respectively.
There are several universities to be found in Mongolia, of which the National University of Mongolia is the oldest and most well-known in the country. For expats and their kids, Mongolia International University and the American University of Mongolia are popular choices for well-rounded international degree programs.
Road accidents are common in Mongolia; it is not advised that foreign nationals take to the road in their own or a rental car. On the other hand, motorbike enthusiasts would claim the risk is worth it to experience some of the best motorbike riding in the world.
Provincial capitals can be reached by plane from Ulaanbaatar. If you don’t like flying, long distances can be covered by bus or a chartered jeep, while in the city, taxis are affordable and readily available. One of the better perks of living in Mongolia is that traveling locally by horse is a real possibility.
Any expatriate planning life in Mongolia should strongly consider taking out a comprehensive insurance policy. The standard of medical care in Ulaanbaatar is basic and virtually non-existent in the middle of the steppe. If you need to be evacuated, the prices can be astronomical. Dial 103 for emergency medical assistance.