An overview of the cost of living and working in Papua New Guinea, including prices, shopping, communications, banking and motor vehicles.
Living in PNG is not cheap. While most standard Western groceries are available in Port Moresby and Lae, the pricing reflects the costs of transport and importation—as a rule of thumb, a basket of typical supermarket goods purchased in Australia, for example, can be around twice the price in PNG. In Port Moresby, fresh vegetables from the markets are quite expensive and there is little difference from the price of vegetables in local supermarkets. In Lae and other centres, market produce is more readily available and is cheaper.
The National Statistics Office and the Bank of Papua New Guinea maintain Consumer Price Indices (CPIs), which are published on the Bank’s website at www.bankpng.gov.pg
In general, shopping in all main centres is limited, basic and quite expensive. There are a few white good, clothing and accessory, sporting or other specialist outlet options. In major centres new shopping centres continue to be developed and have become popular shopping destinations.
Mobile roaming is possible in PNG but it is costly. You are better off to buy a local SIM card from local operators Digicel and Bemobile.
Mobile phones are widely used and deals are available from both Bemobile and Digicel, and other providers and retail outlets for phones and phone credit are readily available in main centres, airports and supermarkets.
Internet access in Port Moresby has improved in recent years. Fast-speed internet service and wireless via a USB modem are now available in PNG. However interruptions shall occur on a regular basis and costs can be significant relative to many other countries – Asia and the Pacific.
A normal range of banking services is available from three banks in PNG – Bank of South Pacific, Kina Bank and Westpac – and all have branches in major provincial centres. Automated teller machines (ATMs) are also available in the main centres. The ANZ provides corporate banking services.
All banks have implemented technology based strategies to take banking facilities to people outside main centres, and this evolution is continuing.
Motor vehicles and public transport
New motor vehicles are very expensive to buy and hire in PNG. Imported second-hand vehicles are popular, and procuring vehicles via private sale from those leaving PNG is a common way to obtain vehicles.
There are a range of international well recognised brands of hire car companies operating in most centres. There are also local companies offering similar services. Do your research and confirm bookings by phone, especially if you have made your booking on-line.
Public transport service in various forms exist usually some form PMV or small bus services and taxi services do exist in the bigger centres. Standards vary considerably and caution and local research is recommended.
This article prepared by Scott Roberts (Managing Director, Pacific People Solutions) and George Griffin (Managing Director, CC Pacific).
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