Residential Satisfaction in the Informal Neighborhoods of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia


Vol. 7 No. 1 (2010)
Research Articles
March 27, 2013


Residential satisfaction is a very important factor in determining the quality of life, housing improvement proposals, and adequate housing policies. This paper reports on the findings of a study in four informal neighborhoods or "ger districts” of Ulaanbaatar, the Mongolian capital. Mongolia has been facing an onslaught of rural migration to the urban areas because of two reasons. First, rural nomads have lost their livestock due to recent harsh climate conditions, and second because of the transition from communism to a democratic market economy, based on the exploitation of Mongolia's rich mineral resources. In the cities, migrants have invaded land and erected rural nomadic "ger” (felt tents or yurts). The traditional ger (as they are called in the Mongolian language) are sustainable structures well adapted for a nomadic society. However, when they are located in high-density, unplanned shantytowns, they create many issues. The country's capital, Ulaanbaatar, is the coldest capital in the world; ger' household use coal for heating which causes dense air pollution, especially in the winter. These informal urban areas lack sanitation, adequate vehicular access and other services. Eventually residents build small permanent houses, but they still lack for basic services. This paper presents the findings of more than one hundred household surveys related to housing conditions in three informal ger districts of Ulaanbaatar. The surveys were held in the summer of 2011. This paper discusses some of the characteristics of the settlements as well as the residential satisfaction of its inhabitants.