I often get emails from people who are considering moving to Papua New Guinea, asking what it’s like living in Port Moresby. After “is it dangerous to live in Port Moresby?” the second most-asked question is about the cost of living in Papua New Guinea. Here, I’ve focused on Port Moresby as it’s the largest city in Papua New Guinea and it’s where I lived for four years.
Port Moresby is actually an expensive city. The cost of living in Port Moresby often surprises people. I guess because it’s considered a developing country people expect the prices here to be similar to those in countries like Thailand or Indonesia. Not so.
Here, I’ve laid out some of the costs of food, housing, eating out and other areas so you have an idea of how much to budget if you’re moving to PNG.
Everything here is in Papua New Guinea Kina (K), the local currency. To convert to your currency, check the current exchange rate.
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Food costs in Port Moresby
One of the most common items that’s going to make up a chunk of the cost of living in Papua New Guinea is of course food. A quick scout around of some common items gives an idea of what groceries cost:
- Loaf of bread (Boroko Food World brand, 680g loaf): K5.95
- Fresh milk (2 litres of fresh Pauls milk): K19.95
- Fresh local milk (1 litre): K5
- Long life milk: K4.80 for one litre carton
- Carton of 10 jumbo eggs: K12.50
- Yoghurt (low-fat Vaalia yoghurt, 900g): K27.65
- Toilet paper (Kleenex Cottonelle six-pack): K26.40
- Sugar (Ramu brand, one kilo): K5.40
- Flour (plain, Flame brand, one kilo): K9.90
- Bananas (local): K7.95 per kilo
- Apples (pack of 8 imported): K15
- Mushrooms (button): K69.95 per kilo (Swiss brown mushrooms are around K95 a kilo)
- Strawberries (punnet): K27.50
- Ice cream (Streets Blue Ribbon vanilla): K29.60
- Chicken breast fillets: K45 per kilo
- Porterhouse steak: K46.90 per kilo
These prices are from Boroko Food World as of June 6, 2018. Thanks to my friend Jess for updating these prices for me!
A lot of fruits and vegetables are imported which really puts the prices up. There are so many wonderful fresh fruit and vegetable growers around Papua New Guinea, particularly in the Highlands, but the lack of infrastructure means it’s difficult for those growers to get their produce to Port Moresby. I’ve been to markets in Goroka and Kokopo and the prices were 1/10th of the prices for imported fruit and vegetables in Port Moresby. I always used to fill a bag with sweet potatoes, delicious pineapples and huge avocados to bring back on the plane whenever I visited Goroka or Mt Hagen!
Often you can pick up bags of locally grown pineapples, bananas and mangoes out the front of Boroko Food World. These are grown in Sogeri, just out of Port Moresby. I once bought a bag of the most delicious pineapples out the front of the Duffy clothing; a bag of five pineapples cost K20. You’ll always see people selling fresh mud crabs on the street too, but I don’t know how to cook these (I’m too scared to cook them alive!) so I never bought them.
So, what about other items?
Housing costs in Port Moresby
Papua New Guinea has a complicated customary land title system, which means the price of land is high, as outlined in this article. Prices fluctuate, but you can see on Hausples the average cost to rent or buy.
Mobile phone costs in Port Moresby
Digicel is the major telecommunications provider in PNG. I grabbed a brochure on the plans that Digicel offers, and here’s just one example, the Plus plan:
Monthly fee: K30
Bundled minutes: 140
Bundled SMS: 40
Effective rate per minute: 46 toea
I think the cost of mobile phone calls aren’t too bad. I had an iPhone and made calls and accessed data and probably spent around K150 per month – which was more than I spent in Australia, but not as expensive as I thought it would be.
Cost of going to the cinema
The Paradise Cinema in Port Moresby shows many of the latest films as soon as they come out in Australia – sometimes even sooner.
Premium: Adult K40, Child K30
Standard: Adult K35, Child K25
3D movies are slightly more, and there are deals on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Eating out in Port Moresby
The number of restaurants in Port Moresby has increased significantly, meaning more choice. However, eating out remains expensive, much more so than other countries.
I ate out at Airways Hotel, in KCs Deli, a lot when I lived in Port Moresby. Some examples of meals and prices at the Deli and Vue Restaurant:
- Sicilian flatbread pizza (delicious, by the way!) – K45
- Mud crab lasagne – K39
- Salmon and tiger prawns – K85
- Pan seared pork loin – K90
- Beef burger – K59
- Chicken nachos – K46
- Chicken Caesar salad – K32
At the Yacht Club, grilled fish and chips go for K39.
These are just a few examples. If you’re considering moving to PNG, I’m always happy to help out with any questions you may have.