Ulaanbaatar - Post Report Question and Answers
What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?
Most people in UB live in apartment complexes or high-rise buildings in the Shangri La residences or Star Apartments. Both are really nice and just a few blocks from the center of the city. It’s about a 30 minute walk or 10-60+ minute drive to the embassy depending on the traffic. Housing size is a bit smaller than our previous posts but considering it's in the middle of the city, I can’t complain. You do only get one heated parking spot per unit so that can be an issue in the winter if you have two vehicles. Otherwise, Star is great for families. Kids can run/bike around and it's very safe. There’s a nice field to use in the summer and an ice rink in the winter, basketball/tennis court, greenhouse. - Jan 2024
I live at the Starr Apartment complex a few blocks away from Suhkbaataar square. The complex includes apartments, townhouses, and a few standalone houses. My husband and I live in a 3 bedroom apartment, which is more than enough room for ourselves and our dog. The complex includes a gym, basketball/tennis court, greenhouse in the summer, and ice skating rink in the winter. If you are a member of the U.S. Embassy community, you can also access the Community Center which has space for events, a playroom for kids, and a small library with a piano. The grounds are well maintained and are beautiful in the summer - grass fields, flowers, and trees. The compound is only a 30 minute walk away from the U.S. Embassy. - Aug 2022
Housing is split between a hi-rise apartment and a gated community across the street with apartments/townhomes. We have been in the apartment building. Beautiful floor to ceiling windows on all the exterior walls have really made this housing our favorite in the Foreign Service so far. Despite all the lockdowns, the daily views of UB and the mountains has been one of the highlights of this tour. The apartment building has many conveniences: there is a Good Price shopping store in the basement, a fantastic gym, a shopping mall with movie theater and food court, and you're also connected to the hotel and its spa. Overall, the apartment itself is quite good. Drawbacks are a lack of storage and a small, but functional, kitchen. Building management is generally responsive through GSO. Commuting is about a 35-minute walk to the US Embassy or a 10 minute morning shuttle. Afternoon shuttle times are usually 30-45 minutes. - Jan 2022
The housing is very high quality. If you are single or a couple without kids you will live in a high rise apartment complex. This is a large, upscale apartment complex attached to the mall. These units are newer, somewhat smaller than the family apartments, but very nice and convenient to groceries, restaurants and the square. Families with kids will live at another complex comprised of standalone houses, apartments and townhomes. Single family homes are not the norm; most will live in an apartment or townhome. The units are large and updated with new appliances and ample space. There is a large playground, tennis court and green area which serves as an ice rink in winter. Kids regularly run around outside and roam from house to house. It is really an amazing place to live if you have kids. There are many other local and foreign residents in the complex as well. - Sep 2020
The housing is great. Generally two options, a very modern high risk apartment building with a mall, restaurants, and a gym at hand, and, for families, a town house complex with beautiful greenery, open space, a playground, and community center. Both are in the heart of the city and close to the embassy. - Aug 2020
There are two main neighborhoods, one for singles, one for families, both of which are near parks. The houses are well-maintained and the neighborhood has more greenery than the city. There's a soccer field in the summer and an ice rink in the winter time. Star also has a gym and a greenhouse for tenants. The apartments have a gym, pool, and is connected to the mall with restaurants, movie theater, and a food court. Commute times are about 10 minutes in the morning, if you leave at 8am before traffic picks up. If you leave later, it takes 20-30 minutes. Coming home usually takes 30 minutes. - Jul 2019
We are very happy with our housing. Most embassy employees (including us) live at Star Apartments, which is a wonderful little oasis in the middle of chaotic UB. It's very centrally located (easy walking to city center, about 35 minutes to US embassy on foot).
This summer the Shangri-La mall opened literally next door and houses a movie theater (including an IMAX!), restaurants, and upscale shopping. Star apartment consists of townhouses, a few stand-alone houses, and apartments. Most are very happy with housing as it's spacious and has a back-up generator. The complex is also home to the Embassy community center, medical unit, a nice gym, playground, and greenhouse (yep, that one is definitely seasonal). - Oct 2016
The vast majority of UB's expat residents live in apartments, with very few free-standing houses. The standard of apartments varies by cost, of course, and ranges from socialist era apartment blocks to more upscale condominiums, often built during the recent boom years when mining was at its peak. Most expats live in the centre of UB, although some (including ourselves) opted to live further out of town, in Zaisan, where air quality is better. However this does make for commuting times of 30-45 minutes which is an issue for many. If one has a car, heated parking spaces are a must, and which does restrict one's choice. - Feb 2015
American Embassy housing is excellent. Most expat housing is great too. Almost all are apartments. Commute time for American embassy people is 10-60 minutes, depending on time of day and housing location. - May 2012
State is at Star, which is nice. - Feb 2012
Housing for direct-hires with the U.S. Embassy is very nice. The city may be a dump, but it's refreshing to live in a spacious, Westernized home. Some of the homes have heated floors, Jacuzzis and saunas. Traffic is gridlocked during commuting hours; an hour to travel two miles is commonplace. - Feb 2011
Many Embassy employees (not all) live at Star Apartments, a nice complex. The traffic congestion results in commutes varying from 30 minutes to 60 minutes from Star to the Embassy. - Jan 2009
1 to 3 level apartments and town houses for U.S. embassy staff. - Oct 2008