Anyone 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.