Most Nogays were pastoral nomads until the early twentieth century; They traveled in groups later known as auls, consisting of as many as fifty wheeled carts, sometimes more. Some groups, called otars, were comprised of members of one family, but it is believed that most groups consisted of members of different families and tribes. They traveled together in winter, but dispersed in summer owing to the limited availability of water. The nomads had two kinds of shelter, the fixed round shelter (approximately 4 meters in diameter) on wheels called an otay and the larger terme, which could be disassembled for transport to the next pasturage. When setting up camp, the carts would be assembled in one inner and one outer circle, with the animals kept between the two circles.
The earliest reports of sedentary groups of Nogays (along the Kuban River) date from the end of the late seventeenth century to the early eighteenth. It is thought that the first settlements were winter quarters for nomads who traveled to other areas during the summer. After the Kuban Nogays, the next to settle were the Terek-Sulak Nogays and then the Yedishkul and Jemboyluk Nogays of the Achikulak steppe. The Kara Nogays, the largest group, were nomadic until the early twentieth century. The earliest homes were single-room structures made of mud and straw bricks, with no courtyards. Structures were eventually built to fence in animals. The process of sedentarization, completed in the twentieth century, has meant the creation of countless new planned settlements, often near transportation routes or sources of water. The Soviet period has also seen a rapid change in the styles of homes. The most common homes dating to the 1920s to early 1930s are two-room units with a front dayroom leading to a bedroom in the rear of the house. Most common in the Nogay steppe is the style of the 1930s and 1940s, the one-story brick house with three or four rooms and a glassed-in porch. Many homes are oriented so that the side faces the street and the front window opens on the courtyard. Most recently, four- or five-room and multistory houses have become more common for rural dwellers, but urban dwellers live in Soviet-style apartment complexes. By 1970, 16.2 percent of the Nogays were urbanized.