REALITY CHECK: What life is like in VERY EXPENSIVE Port Moresby

pomAnyone living in Port Moresby without institutional housing or support from relatives or  parents, know that  it is an absolute  nightmare.  Port Moresby is the most expensive city in the Pacific. The rental  price structures are like those in Australia and yet  the  wages that  employers pay don’t match the cost of living.

Housing is skewed towards the high end market.

Real estate  companies charge  a minimum of K1000 to K5000 a week in rental prices.  The vast majority of Papua New Guineans don’t see that kind of money in a fortnight or even six months.  A  salary of between K35,000  and K50,000  is next to impossible to live on if you have a family.

The figure looks great on the pay slip.  But it can’t pay rent. You can’t save enough unless someone else is paying for rent or your company pays for your accommodation.

In Port Moresby, the buying power of an K80,000 a year salary is still limited if you pay for your own rent.  The quality of life  diminishes once reality sets in after the first year of work.  It’s a painful reality that many young graduates have to face.  What appears to be a big salary is ripped to shreds by the reality of big city life.

At one stage, up to 60 percent of our salaries went to pay rent every fortnight. We were evicted three times because our rentals were late.  We still paid up. But the real estate companies didn’t like it.

Once we lived in a compound where the rent collectors came with bush knives every fortnight to collect rental payments.  At the end of the fortnight, money was always short. Sometimes food ran out three days before the fortnight’s salary hit the bank.  It was frustrating and  stressful.

School fees were expensive. They have risen over the years.  Sometimes, parents can’t send their kids to school because the fees have accumulated from last term.   Nobody talks about the difficulties that families face.

Food is expensive.

What we ignore in Lae Market is sold  at exorbitant  prices in Port Moresby.  People have no choice but to buy it because it adds a bit of  variety to their diets.

Who can save money in such an environment?

This is the reality that governments don’t talk about.  What is large scale investment if our people are paid slave wages or the environment makes their salaries insignificant?

The National Housing Corporation  and the evictions they conduct always draw my ire because  of all of the above.  Housing is a basic need.  Yet the corruption in that one organization continues to rob Papua New Guineans of affordable housing.






10 comments on “REALITY CHECK: What life is like in VERY EXPENSIVE Port Moresby

  1. Reblogged this on Duresi's Odyssey and commented:
    “This is the reality that governments don’t talk about. What is large scale investment of our people are paid slave wages or the environment makes their salaries insignificant”.

    You just hit the nail on the head Scott! Could not agree more.


    • paul maitai






    I totally agree with you, Port Moresby city is extremely expensive, the schools too a reap off, especially private schools, K2000 per term for school fees is a nightmare, and the prices of goods in the shops is unbelievable.
    The rentals are a real off too. I only wish and pray that the new government looks into our grievances and reduce tax, reduce rents, and school fees to be subsidized in some private schools.

    Thank you



  3. Terence Avoah Moka

    This is the harsh reality of living in Port Moresby. I earn about K8, 000 a month and pay 3 bedroom Executive unit for almost K9, 000.00. Have been locked out once and because I always delays in paying my rental payments and the landlord has now terminated my tenancy agreement even without any outstanding. The Government and Business houses are loosing out big time due to high rental costs. The Government should immediately look into housing issues as one of its priorities.


  4. Hallelujah! I was just about to sign a contract for a job offer that would pay me K5400 a month (inclusive of taxes) with two kids. Thanks to this I am not taking the offer, and I am satisfied with my decision. I was on the fence for a while.


  5. Marie-Rose Vaki

    Living in POM was a sad and hard hit time for us. Now that we have made the decision to move to Lae, we all have vowed never to return to POM, only for a short holiday – Yes. Otherwise, POM is not a place of average PNG citizen, you have to be either above or below to accept the life style you live.


  6. Lindsay Lambi

    Dear Scott,

    Great article, indeed a reality check!

    In addition to the exorbitantly high rental costs, one has also got to deal with unrealistic landlords or real estate companies. I’ve come to realize that the way Tenancy Agreements are written/designed always seem to safeguard the Landlord’s interests and not both parties. For example, one real estate company which I previously rented a 2-bedroom unit from has a tenancy agreement that didn’t cater for damages caused to or the loss of personal effects. The compound I was living in was flooded sometime back and we lost laptops, rice cookers, and even vehicles and other personal effects which were submerged in water. Of course one can argue, this is an act of god but surely the landlord should take some heat on this. This issue was brought to the attention of the Landlord who blatantly brushed it off citing a specific clause on the tenancy agreement which indemnified the company.

    Noting the tenancy agreement clause, affected tenants even proposed to the landlord for rent relief asking him to halve rentals which would allow some us to recoup our damaged personal properties. This was again, blatantly brushed aside.

    Moreover, for tenants who protested the damages/losses experienced and vacated the property, they were not even refunded their bond fees.

    All this begs the following questions: Does the country have a Tenancy Tribunal or Authority that deals with tenant’s issues such as the above and regulates proper conduct by real estate companies? Does the ICCC have the authority to regulate real estate companies and protect the interests of genuine tenants? How can the office of the Minister for Housing & Urban Development, Hon. Justin Tkatchenko, BEM, OL, MP assist in this matter?

    I hope someone out there can escalate this matter to the relevant authorities.



  7. For the first time since I started my career, I can actually breathe each fortnight, simply because I no longer reside in Pom. I’ve been employed in the past with the private sector and as you rightly stated, the figures look good on ones payslip but the reality is by a far different story


  8. Aaron Peter Mawe

    Life in Port Moresby City is truly too expensive. Accommodation as one of the main expense in all working class who don’t have houses in the city.

    Even non working class too are always struggling to find a decent place to live.

    Quite over the years, the NHC has missed it’s focus of providing affordable housing for people who can afford. Affordable housing simply means places not only the working class can afford but the non working class like ‘table market owners’, buai sellers and anyone Papua New Guinean who can support and sustain his/her living from certain means can afford.

    The NHC may not realize this but in reality, it is a government’s big ‘garden’ that can generate income for the state far more than gold, oil and gas.

    It is because of this weakness and gap that gave rise to unregulated real estate giants with unrealistic rental fees.

    NHC should lead the way by building more and more affordable homes for the mass of the populace who can not afford a place for K500-K2000 a week.

    NHC should start waking up from its slumber and be realistic to this country and it’s people. Stop even coming with plans like the Duran project. These houses can not be even afforded by true Papua New Guineans. Do up proper studies and come up with real affordable housing. Be realistic.

    People like working /contributing to this nation and live in the city but housing has beome a case that is demoralizing the citizens of this country.


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