It changed. Then it changed again.

Remember that post where we shared how excited we were that we figured out how to pay our bills?  The next month, the process changed…but just a little.  And this month it changed again.

Living in a place where everything is different–subtly or overtly–can be disconcerting.  It’s empowering when you figure something out.  It’s a little deflating when you try that same thing again and  it doesn’t work how you expected it to work.

Here’s a snapshot of our bill-paying attempts with their monthly variations:


THE FIRST MONTH, the process went something like this:

First, get little papers:

  • get little paper telling you what your electricity usage is
  • get little paper telling you what your HOA fee is
  • get little paper telling you to text them your water meter reading

Then, text the number with your water meter reading

Next, get out cash from the ATM because you can’t transfer money from your Mongolian bank account like everyone else does because you don’t have a Mongolian bank account.  Consider looking into getting one when you have more emotional energy and better language skills because this would make your life a lot easier.

Finally, go to the bank and pay for your electricity, HOA, water, and landline (that you never use).


But things changed, and THE SECOND MONTH went something like this:

First, get little papers taped to your door:

  • get little paper telling you what your electricity usage is
  • get little paper telling you what your HOA fee is but with a note that you can’t pay it at the bank because an account hasn’t been set up yet. 
  • get little paper telling you to text them your water meter reading

Then, text the number with your water meter reading

Then, get a knock on your door from your downstairs neighbor who says he’s the new head of the HOA because your building along with another building, left a larger HOA association so you could get more personalized attention and you have to pay him 40,000₮ ($16).  Pay him with cash. Get no receipt because receipts are not super common here.

Next, get out cash from the ATM because you can’t transfer money from your Mongolian bank account like everyone else does because you don’t have a Mongolian bank account.  Consider looking into getting one when you have more emotional energy and better language skills because this would make your life a lot easier.

Finally, go to the bank and pay for your electricity, HOA, water, and landline (that you never use).


But things changed, and THE THIRD MONTH went something like this:

First, get little papers taped to your door:

  • get little paper telling you what your electricity usage is
  • get little paper telling you what your HOA fee is that you can now pay at the bank with all your other bills.
  • get little paper telling you to text them your water meter reading

Then, get a knock on your door from someone in a uniform who says many words in Mongolian.  You recognize the word for “water” and the little papers on the clipboard so invite them in because you can’t leave the door open or the cat will escape.  You find a flashlight so you can get the meter reading from behind your toilet.  She checks her chart and determines you owe about 80,000₮ ($35).  She pulls out a credit card machine and you pay her.  You only worry a little bit about this being a scam.  She gives you a receipt and moves onto the next apartment.

Next, get out cash from the ATM because you can’t transfer money from your Mongolian bank account like everyone else does because you don’t have a Mongolian bank account.  Consider looking into getting one when you have more emotional energy and better language skills because this would make your life a lot easier.

Finally, go to the bank where you paid last month and the bank is NOT THERE anymore. You don’t know why it’s not there.  There aren’t signs explaining why (not that you could read them anyway) but this has happened several times with other stores so you’re not entirely surprised. Find another branch, walk there and pay for your electricity, HOA, water, and landline (that you never use).


We’re three months in.  We’ll keep you posted if anything changes next month!

One thought on “It changed. Then it changed again.

  1. That is so crazy! We take for granted the relatively stable routines and myriad conveniences that underpin our day-to-day existence but the reality you face in Mongolia is more like what the the poor here in America have to deal with. I used to work in Muskegon Heights and was amazed to see how people there waked from place to place (and stood in line) to pay bills, had no checking account so they used Western Union to transfer money (and paid a steep fee for the privilege), actually had their life insurance agent come to their door to collect the $5 premium (every week). etc. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us – they help us gain a different perspective on things!

    Like

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