Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea Report of what it's like to live there

Personal Experiences from Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea 05/17/19

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

No, have lived in three countries in Africa, two in Asia, and one in South America.

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2. How long have you lived here?

Two years, 2016-18.

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3. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Spouse works in international development. We are not American and not with a government organization.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

We lived in a gated and guarded compound, as most expats do. Very nice apartment with a pool. Commute was about 20 minutes. Some people complained about the traffic, but we found it very light compared to other places we have lived.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

The big supermarkets import items from Australia, so you can get most things you need, at a substantialy marked up price. Imported fruits, veggies, milk and cheese are very expensive. The quality and availability of local fruits and veggies is inconsistent. Sometimes everything in the supermarket seemed wilted.

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3. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are plenty of restaurants and cafes.

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4. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

The compounds are sprayed regularly, so you hardly see any bugs. Except for mosquitos. I knew of several people who got dengue or malaria. I got bitten quite a lot at the beginning and was fine though.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

I received mail; slow, but always arrived.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Many people employ Haus meris, but we didn't.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There are several gyms: the yacht club, Airways, the Stanley, the Holiday Inn, as well as private pilates and yoga classes. Most of the gyms have classes such as pump, Zumba, tabata, boxing, etc.

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4. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

It was easy to manage with English.

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5. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Yes.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

No. Lots of robberies on the buses and women are often hassled. Taxis not recommended, unless you find a driver you can trust.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

SUV, if you want to go out of the city, or take day trips to beaches or into the mountains of Sogeri.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

It was very expensive when we were there. We paid the equivalent of US $400 a month for wifi. We we're able to stream Netflix and YouTube. Lots of people didn't have wifi at home though, just a dongle or phone data.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Just the rspca; I've heard it's very expensive to have your pet treated there.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

Not much available unless you are a qualified teacher or development professional. Although some spouses, after living in PIM for several years, got business-type jobs (HR manager and so on).

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

Not much. Some opportunities, and general fundraising, through All Nations Women's Group.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Tropical work wear.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Yes, the security situation is very unsafe. There are regular car jackings and robberies. Many expats drive with a security escort, or at least have a panic button in their car.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

We were fine, but friends had all sorts if issues and generally needed to go to Australia to sort them out. Be careful about skin infections: several friends and acquaintance contracted serious infections that required medical evacuations.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Great air quality compared to most big cities in developing countries. There is almost no industry in the area. Sometimes burning of garbage or grass creates noxious smoke, but it doesn't generally last too long.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Hot and humid, very strong sun/UV, but I enjoyed the climate. I used a ceiling fan in the day and a/c at night for sleeping

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

Our children were in upper elementary grades at the main international school, TEMIS (Ela Murray). Socially and cuturally, they had a fantastic time. Academically, it was a disaster. The school has a very loose curriculum and NO textbooks! Teachers seem to have to plan their classes from scratch. Some teachers are very good, but some are truly incompetent. My kids fell quite behind academically. We are now back home trying to catch up.

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2. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Parents seem to love Ela Murray preschool.

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3. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

There isn't much outside of school. And what the school offers is generally not very well run. And the seasons are very short. I think soccer was just six weeks.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

You get all types. Some love it, some hate it. Port Moresby grew on me, and by the end I didn't want to leave.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Getting together with other families, day trips to Sogeri, Crystal Rapids, Owen's Corner, Black Rock and other beach areas. The bushwalking group is a good, safe way to see the countryside. The beaches around POM are not gorgeous though.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

Good for families with kids under 12. From grade 7, the schooling lots of families leave or send their kids to boarding school in Australia. The international high school (POMIS) doesn't have a great rep.

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4. Is it easy to make friends with locals here? Are there any prejudices or any ethnic groups who might feel uncomfortable here?

I made local friends through the school. Wonderful!

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5. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Trips to Rabaul, Goroka Festival, Tufi. Day trips from POM. Independence weekend in POM.

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6. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

There are plenty of fascinating places to visit in the highlands and coastal areas, if you are adventurous and have the $$$.

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7. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

There are craft markets every Saturday with small trinkets as well as big paintings, carvings, etc.
Everyone shops at the second hand clothing stores -- many bargains to be had.

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8. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

The tropical climate, reasonably fresh air for a developing country's capital city, and the chance to learn about and experience one of the most fascinating countries in the world! Also, the proximity to Australia for holidays.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

Not to be scared by the city's reputation for crime; we took precautions and we were fine.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes, absolutely. It was a fantastic experience!

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Long sleeves (unless working in an office with A/C).

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4. But don't forget your:

Sunscreen, hats, and snorkeling equipment.

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Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea 06/13/16

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Yes, the first.

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2. What is your home city/country? How long is the trip to post from there, with what connections? How easy/difficult is it to travel to this city/country?

Philadelphia. About 24 hours of flight time. Assume two to three days of travel, depending on layovers.

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3. How long have you lived here?

10 months.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

Diplomatic mission.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

A beautiful, new townhouse in the "Peninsula" compound. Ground Floor: two car garage, laundry room, half bath and small bedroom with tiny full bath. Second floor: open concept kitchen, dining and living room with half bath and under-stair storage plus large balcony. Upper floor: master bedroom (king bed) with walk-in closet, full bath (shower only) and small balcony, living room/office, two bedrooms, and full bath with tub. We have a small yard that is mostly tiled that we never use because it's hard to get to - you have to walk down stairs, go through the garage and then through a hallway past the laundry room.
The two sets of stairs are very tall - about 18-20 stairs each. GSO provides baby gates if necessary.
The Peninsula is waterfront property, and the Embassy rents about 10 townhouses here. There are another 10 townhouses rented by other diplomatic missions or expats. There is also one apartment building, and two more apartment buildings under construction. The new Embassy will be built in this complex as well, but that will be a few years away. It's nice to walk around along the water and watch the fish. Unfortunately, the sewage system empties into the lagoon in the back, so occasionally the smell is bad, and large amounts of trash often wash in. Right now, there is a small pool and a covered BBQ area by the pool. When construction is completed, there should be another pool, a playground, gym, tennis court, and other open space (in addition to the Embassy amenities). In the meantime, we are living in a construction zone, with the attendant dust and noise. You can also walk to two small restaurants within the compound, and you should go there in a group due to security reasons. There is a Yacht Club, which has a playground, two restaurants, a bar and a gym in addition to marina services.

There is also an owned compound about a mile away with about 8 (?) townhouses (referred to as the "Staff Compound"). The staff compound has a pool and a small gym. The townhouses here are dated and are chopped up by small stairs. There is no place to walk around, so it is not ideal for people with kids or anyone who needs to walk outside. It is very quiet. Stay-at-home spouses will go stir-crazy here.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

Expensive, with occasional shortages. But you generally can get what you want for a price. Beef is pretty cheap. All dairy is imported, so it's expensive. Fresh milk costs about US$8 for one liter. Boxed milk is common and cheap. You can get cheese, but the selection varies. If you see a favorite, buy it and freeze it. Most imported foods come from Australia or NZ. There was an onion and carrot shortage for a few months last year.

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

This is a consumables post. Bring peanut butter (the local version has a different consistency), Nutella, maple syrup, pickles, mustards, salsa, juice, alcohol, oils, soda, pasta sauces, anything you really like and can't ship via pouch. While you may be able to get many of the above items here, it is really expensive and the quality is not the same. The diplomatic pouch is your friend.

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

There are no American fast-food restaurants. Generally, restaurants are expensive and are of low quality for the price. There is a new tapas place within walking distance of the Peninsula town homes with the only decent pizza I've found here. It is a breath of fresh air.

There are some fancy and expensive restaurants at the luxury hotels. But generally speaking, you have to cook from scratch every meal. Around the current Embassy downtown, there are very few restaurants available for lunch. There is a surprisingly good Indian place a 10 minute walk away (you need to walk in a group). Otherwise, very slim pickings. You will need to pack your lunch.

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5. Are there any unusual problems with insects or other infestations in housing?

Not really. Surprisingly few for the climate.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Pouch only.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Housekeepers, or "Haus Meris," cost about 50 kina (about US$17) a day. Most of these amazing women live without water, electricity or non-dirt floors, and they risk their safety and well being to commute to work. While it is common to complain about the quality of work (and I am certainly guilty of this), I try to keep in mind how much they overcome, and I am happy to help the local economy.

Many haus meris also watch children, but there are nannies as well, who are referred to as "pickininni meris". The nannies will keep your children alive and well fed. Don't expect western-style nannies.

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3. What kinds of gyms or other sports/workout facilities are available? Are they expensive?

There is a small air-conditioned free gym at staff compound. In a few years there should be a gym at the Peninsula and at the new Embassy. The Yacht Club and the Aviat club also have gyms for a price. There is no air conditioning in these. There are also gyms at the fancy hotels.

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4. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

I sometimes use credit cards, but I try to use cash.

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5. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Not sure, but English is an official language. I know members of the mission do attend services.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is fine, although most locals speak Tok Pisin.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

Definitely.

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Transportation:

1. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

Absolutely not. There is no public transportation. Privately owned PMVs are off limits, as are taxis. I think there are one or two approved car services.

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2. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

SUVs are probably best, but you don't need 4x4 in town. Outside you do, because roads are not paved outside of the capital. You may be able to drive for two hours outside of the city, so it's not like there are that many places to visit. Also, many women (myself included) do not feel safe driving here due to security reasons, especially with children in the back. You can use the Embassy's motor pool for a fee.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Yes, but it is slow and incredibly expensive. For unlimited data, you could pay as much as $1000 US per month. That is not a typo. Most pay a few hundred for service that will generally not allow you to live stream. You can download overnight or longer and then watch. PNG has some of the most expensive internet in the world. No matter what you pay, you will encounter frequent complete outages. A huge bummer.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

The Embassy provides phones to employees and spouses. I kept free texting on my US phone for friends and family, and I use the local phone only for local friends.

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Pets:

1. Are qualified veterinarians and/or good kennel services available? Do animals need to be quarantined upon entry to the country? Are there other considerations regarding pets that are particular to this country?

Not sure - we don't have pets.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

There are a few positions available. As the post gets bigger, it will become a problem, because there is not much to do here for spouses. Telecommuting is difficult due to unreliable and slow internet.

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2. What volunteer opportunities are available locally?

It is shockingly hard to volunteer. But there are some opportunities with an orphanage for children with AIDS and at a the RSPCA.

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3. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

Casual. No Marine Ball. Some formal charitable events.

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Health & Safety:

1. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Absolutely. 70% of the local women are victims of spousal or sexual abuse. Carjackings are common, as are break-ins (although not in embassy housing). Expat women have been raped in situations that would surprise you (like a hotel bathroom). You can not walk outside of compounds or shopping centers. And you don't really want to walk around shopping centers because they are generally dirty (shoes are optional at most shopping centers, especially for children). There are no parks or playgrounds. You must always be on your guard in public. It's exhausting and stressful for EFM's and children who don't have the safety of the Embassy every day.

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2. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

Malaria and Dengue are very common, including in the compound. There is a growing risk of drug resistant TB, and typhoid, AIDS, and cholera are here as well. Most of the local population do not have running water or electricity, and there is no public garbage collection. There are sewers that empty straight into the bay - I don't know if it is treated or not.

Medical care is dicey. We have not had a nurse here on post since I got here. They have hired one, but she or he has not started yet. We do have access to the Australian High Commission doctor for a fee. The U.S. Regional Medical Officer tries to come every few months. There are also clinics, although we don't have access to the one that most expats use. There is a private hospital that has ambulance service and an emergency room. Bring a credit card - unsure of costs but you really have no choice. I just continue to hope that nothing happens to us. It will be nice once the nurse gets here. Medevac spot is Singapore.

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3. What is the air quality like at post (good/moderate/bad)? Are there seasonal air quality issues? Does the air quality have an impact on health?

Fine. Burning trash is common and can get overwhelming if there is no wind.

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4. What do people who suffer from environmental or food allergies need to know?

Mold is common due to the climate. You are on your own for food allergies. International school is nut free.

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5. Are there any particular mental health issues that tend to crop up at post, such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (winter blues)?

Isolation and boredom. Not being able to walk around anywhere is incredibly frustrating. Work loads seem to be high, so you can bury yourself in work, but that has its own issues. If you have children, you will worry about their mental health.

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6. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Tropical. Hot and wet and Hot and dry.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

There is one approved international grade school - The Ela Murray International School - kindergarten (called "prep" here) through 8th grade. It is based on Australian curriculum, but it is not accredited by any non-PNG institution - standards are set by private PNG consortium. We have found the curriculum to be about a year behind our public school back home. Since the school year starts in January, our older son started late in the fourth grade in September (when he would have begun fourth grade in the States) and then started fifth grade in December. He loves his current teacher, who is from Canada. He had difficulty understanding his local 4th grade teacher. Class size seems to be about 25 per class. Two classes per grade. Pretty good after-school programs, including music lessons. I will need to do a better job augmenting math, or else he will be behind at the next post. Facilities are just okay. There is a large pool, tennis courts and a soccer pitch. The bathrooms are kind of gross, and sometimes they run out of water. But that happens throughout the city and is probably not the school's fault. I think the first grade may be full, so check with the school before you bid in order to see if there are a waiting list for your child's grade if you come in mid-year.


High School:
POMIS, the high school, is not approved by the American education team. Some people at the EU do send their children and like it.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Probably not much.

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Preschool:
The Ela Murray Early Learning Center preschool is fantastic and expensive (about $1200US per month, 7:30-2:30 full time). You can send just a few days a week. It is the only preschool with decent bathrooms and a very large shaded playground. It is purely a play-based curriculum. There is no formal learning of letters. There is a long waiting list, so you should contact the school ASAP.

There are two other preschools used by expats - Southbridges and Peter Pan. Southbridges is not yet full-day and has a very small facility. Southbridges does focus on formal learning and is run by Filipino teachers.

Peter Pan's curriculum is a mix between the two above, but it's facilities (especially the bathrooms and lack of shade) were problematic for me.

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4. Are local sports classes and/or activities available for kids?

Only through school. Besides the after-school programs (rugby, soccer, tae kwon do, programming, etc.) there are inter-school soccer and rugby programs.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Large due to oil and gas, aid work and diplomatic missions. Morale is mixed.

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2. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

You may have to work at it, but there are ways to meet people. The Yacht club and Aviat club are social clubs with restaurants and gyms. There are groups that snorkel and dive or bushwalk. If you put yourself out there, you will find non-mission friends.

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3. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

If you can get over the security and medical issues, this is fine for singles, couples and families with toddlers and perhaps babies. There are playgroups for toddlers and below on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday around the city, so you can easily meet other parents (mostly moms). I can't recommend it for school-aged children - it is just too isolating, and the school is not great.

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4. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

Probably not.

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5. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

There is no gender equality. This is a very Christian nation, although Christianity is mixed with a belief in sorcery. Women and some men have been murdered for being accused of being witches.

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6. What have been the highlights of your time in this country? Best trips or experiences?

Living in such a culturally different society has been fascinating. If you do not appreciate America after living here, you are doing it wrong.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

Renting Embassy boat to visit Fisherman's Island or Lion Island; Crystal Rapids, Koitake Lodge, massages at Airways Hotel.

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Yes - there are markets most weekends with local art and carvings.

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9. What are the particular advantages of living in this city?

Proximity to Cairns, Australia and the Great Barrier Reef.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. What do you wish you had known about this particular city/country before moving there?

That so many women (and some men) do not feel safe enough to drive here. That we would not have a medical professional at post. How isolating compound living is. That the elementary school does not really meet international school standards. That it is so expensive to travel within the country - it is cheaper and/or more relaxing to fly and stay in Cairns. That you can not save money if you pay for preschool at the ELC and/or leave the country on travel for mental health reasons.

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2. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Certainly not with school-aged children. I would have stayed back on SMA if I really knew how difficult it is here.

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3. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Cold-weather clothes.

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4. But don't forget your:

Patience and sense of adventure.

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

"Guns, Germs and Steel"

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6. Do you have any other comments?

The hardship pay has been raised to 35% for a reason. One R&R per year is not enough. Many people who thought they would extend decided not to do so once they got here. We thought it would be a hidden gem, and were wrong. That being said, once the construction ends at the Embassy and Peninsula, it will be much better.

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Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea 06/10/08

Background:

1. Was this post your first expatriate experience? If not, what other cities have you lived in as an expat?

Multiple postings in South America and Africa.

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2. How long have you lived here?

One year.

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3. Travel time and best routes to this city from Europe or the US:

From the U.S.: LA or San Francisco to Brisbane or Sydney, Australia (13 hours), to Port Moresby (3 hours). From Europe/Africa/Asia: via Australia, Manila or Singapore. The only international airlines to PNG are Air Nuigini/Quantas, and PNG Airlines.

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4. What brought you to this city (e.g. diplomatic mission, business, NGO, teaching, retirement, etc.)?

I am an Australian government contractor.

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Housing, Groceries & Food:

1. What is your housing like? What are typical housing sizes, locations, and commute times for expatriates?

Most expats live in apartments or townhouses. The quality is acceptable, but lower than other developing countries. The extreme housing shortage drives rents through the roof ($1,000 to $1,500 a week for a 2-3 bedroom unit). Many expats including diplomats live in 'Town' which is the hill just behind the port. Mostly apartments and townhouses in 1-4 story buildings with sea views and a pool, a few with tennis courts or internet. There are some single detached homes, often with a pool but no yard. The Australian High Commission has a own compound near Town (apartments/townhouses). It is rare to have green space in your compound in Town.

Other expats live in Islander Village opposite the Holiday Inn, which is about 150 houses in a suburb-like compound. Houses are 2-family units with yard. A pool is rare. Many unaccompanied expats live long-term in the Holiday Inn (Waigani), Airways Hotel (airport), or the Crown Plaza (Town). Government offices are mainly in the Waigani area near the Holiday Inn. Business offices are in Town or Waigani. Some expats, particulary longterm ones, Asians, or those whose companies do not have security requirements, live in other areas (Gordons or Boroko). Some buy/bring a boat and live at the Yacht Club, which has power, gym, showers, etc., and then sell the boat when they leave, to avoid losing money on such high rent. Everything can be reached in 5-15 minutes, with little traffic. Ask your company to put you on waiting lists before you arrive; expect to be in a hotel 1-2 months. This is a landlord's market.

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2. How would you describe the availability and cost of groceries and household supplies relative to your home country?

There are 2 main supermarkets catering to expats (Boroko Foodworld, and Anderson's). Decent meat at Boroko (there is a cattle farm in Walindi, West New Britain). Most Australian food is available, but more expensive and without as much variety. Most fresh fruits and veggies are imported, as is cheese, yogurt and fresh milk. You can get lots of spices, tofu, whole wheat bread and flour, dry beans, grains, and some healthy crackers and bars are available. Lots of junk food available (and many kids at school bring it for lunch).

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3. What household or grocery items do you wish you had shipped to post?

A trampoline or kids play equipment and a good exercise machine (lack of yard space, lack of exercise here), cooler, more blue ice packs, sports equipment (diving, snorkeling, scooters, bikes, life-jackets/PFDs, harnesses for Hobie sailing, a boat if I had the space; pool toys/inflatable raft; black sports shoes in the next size up for kids uniform; more Crocs; more bathing suits and rash guards for everyone in the family, long and short sleeves, for sun and sea lice that sting; reef shoes; tennis racquets and shoes; clothes and shoes; mesh sports bags for diving/snorkeling stuff and small mesh sports bags for kids swim gear; 220v bread, yogurt and ice cream makers; pasta maker; big 220v freezer or extra fridge to keep bugs from multiplying in the flour, cereal, rice, etc.; extra sheets. Lots of arts & crafts supplies for kids. Gifts for kids birthday parties. Invitations, thank you cards and party favors. (If you are short on space, there is a neat store here, though, Gifts Galore).

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4. What typical restaurants, food delivery services, and/or takeout options are popular among expatriates?

Limited options, but reasonably priced. Italian (Japello's); grill and theme nights at Yacht Club; Airways hotel (international menu with great coffee shop); Japanese (Ichizen in Town, and steakhouse above Anderson's Foodland); Ela Beach Hotel; and Lamana Hotel (some Indian options) are best. Also there is Chinese (Fui Gui and a couple others) and Holiday Inn. For cafes, only 3 options: Airways (best), Brian Bell (clean, not bad), and Boroko Foodworld. Airways has really good cakes and breads. For fast food there is Big Rooster. Pizza at Japello's and Ela Beach Hotel is very good.

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Daily Life:

1. How do you send and receive your letters and package mail? Are local postal facilities adequate?

Your employer's local PO Box, or arrange to have your financial papers/bank statements, etc., sent to you via TNT or DHL once a month to your work's street address in Port Moresby. They can also clear any unaccompanied luggage you send, or things you order from Australia by internet.

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2. What is the availability and cost of household help, and what types of help are typically employed by expatriates?

Readily available and around $200 a month, expat rates, Monday to Friday 7:30 to 4pm. If you have had help in other countries, you may find PNG helpers are less capable cleaners, cannot cook, and are reluctant to start early or stay late because of security issues in transport. Very few live in (and few houses have space for live-ins). PNGers are very warm with kids.

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3. Are credit cards widely accepted and safe to use locally? Are ATMs common and do you recommend using them? Are they safe to use?

Major credit cards are accepted in many but not all places; local bank ATM cards are very convenient and give cash back. International ATM cards work fine, but it is good to have some funds in the local bank in case the international system is down.

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4. What English-language religious services are available locally?

Yes, the major Christian denominations are represented.

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5. English-language newspapers and TV available? Cost?

Yes, local and Australian papers. Satellite TV.

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6. How much of the local language do you need for daily living? Are local language classes/tutors available and affordable?

English is widely spoken, although your house help may have limited English.

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7. Would someone with physical disabilities have difficulties living in this city?

This city has no particular accommodation for physical disabilities, and you might be a target for crime if not accompanied. Security escorts can be arranged. Tall buildings are few and tend to have elevators, there is ground floor housing available, although traditional housing outside Port Moresby is on stilts. You could not get around in a wheelchair in most areas, but you can't walk around either, because of security.

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Transportation:

1. Do you drive on the right hand side of the road or the left?

Left.

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2. Are local buses, trams, trains or taxis safe and affordable?

The Red Dot cabs from the airport that you hire inside the airport are safe and cheap (US$10). Some expat aid-workers and volunteers take local buses and they are cheap, but not considered safe if you have anything of value on you or are a female traveling alone.

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3. What kind of car do you recommend bringing to post, given the terrain, availability of parts, burglary/carjacking risks, etc.? What kind of car do you advise not to bring?

Sedans are most common. Road conditions are good. You do not need 4WD unless you plan to buy and tow a motor boat, or live outside of Port Moresby. You can only go a short distance in two directions from Port Moresby, towards Crystal Rapids (past the airport about an hour) or a half hour north up the coast to the beach. Japanese cars are common. Smash resistant window film (3M) can be sourced in country, but bullet proof windows would need to be imported.

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Phone & Internet:

1. Is high-speed home Internet access available? How long does it typically take to install it after arrival?

Not exactly, unless you work at the World Bank or a place that has its own satellite (satellite licenses are prohibitively expensive and limited by government). Many companies use dial up service or ADSL which is still not fast. If you work at home or do a lot of up/downloading, you can get 512kb speed wireless at a very high cost (ie $500 to $1000 a month) from Daltron or Datec. Islander Village and places in town have lines of sight. You can access internet at the Yacht club or the major hotels by buying 100K cards to connect. You pay for the amount of data you up/download, not the time per se. There are two expensive internet cafes in town, not high speed.

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2. Do you have any recommendations regarding mobile phones? Did you keep your home-country plan or use a local provider?

Get both Digicel and B-Mobile, so if one network is down, you have the other. Digicel is cheaper, but not everyone has it. You can get dual sim card phones for under $300 in PNG, but beware of fakes that don't work; try them out or get one in Australia.

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3. What is the best way to make phone calls back home?

Skype if you have good internet, or local Digicel mobile phone cards. You cannot call the US collect from PNG.

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Pets:

1. Quality pet care available (vets & kennels)?

RSPCA has expat vet who is good. There is no rabies here, so bringing a pet from anywhere outside Australia, NZ, Hawaii, or certain nearby islands is complicated; call the National Quarantine Service in Port Moresby for details.

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Employment & Volunteer Opportunities:

1. What types of jobs do most expatriate spouses/partners have? Locally based or telecommuting? Full-time or part-time? Can you comment on local salary scales?

No. But if you have certain skills, there are international contracts to be had. A dependent can get a job, exit and re-enter with a new visa, but the search and visa process can take 6 to 9 months. Visa terms are adhered to.

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2. What is the typical dress code at work and in public places? Is formal dress ever required?

At the office, business casual (shorts or jeans are not worn to work by professionals in government or other offices). PNG women usually wear short sleeves to work but expat women can wear sleeveless tops; the tops are not an issue as much as covering legs to at least the knee. Straight or full skirts to knee or mid-calf are worn for work, as are pants. Shirt or shirt and tie (no coat), or women's equivalent, if you are giving a presentation or being interviewed. Ambassadors or visiting heads of state will wear coat and tie, and accompanying staff follows suit on those occasions. For non-work situations, casual clothes, bermuda or board shorts, dresses, sandals, crocs.

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Health & Safety:

1. Pollution index (Good, Moderate, Unhealthy, or Very Unhealthy)?

Moderate. Some trash is burned at times.

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2. Are there personal security concerns to be aware of at this post? Please describe.

Security concerns are high in Port Moresby, with carjackings, muggings, and break-ins of expats and locals. The security community has noted that in the past year, crime is more planned and not just opportunistic. That said, you don't see AK-47s and if you've lived in other cities with high crime rates, or post-conflict countries, it's relatively not bad in Moresby. The problem is more the low security infrastructure and lack of well trained personnel. There is a local building code against solid brick/stone walls around compounds. Security guards are often poorly paid and poorly trained, except for UN ones.

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3. Are there any particular health concerns? What is the quality of available medical care? What medical conditions typically require medical evacuation?

A lot of expats in Port Moresby have gotten malaria this year. Testing and treatment is readily available. Evacuation insurance is required, to get you to Cairns or Brisbane, Australia for anything moderately serious or specialized. If it's not an emergency, you go on a regularly scheduled commercial flight. Get DAN diving insurance if you dive. There is a decompression chamber in Port Moresby, but you need to be evacuated on a special aircraft from the coast or islands to the city. You can get medications from Australia in PNG at reputable pharmacies (supermarkets are OK), but they are expensive and may not be in stock so bring a year's supply of prescription medications you take. Bring an extra pair of prescription glasses and prescription sunglasses with Croakies so you don't lose them boating; they can't be made in PNG and have to be sent out to Australia. There is one recommended expat dentist here.

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4. What is the overall climate: is it extremely hot or cold, wet or dry, at any time of year, for example?

Warm and dry; warm and humid.

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Schools & Children:

1. What is the availability of international schools? What has been your general experience with them, if any?

The expat community is served by Port Moresby International High School (few expats); St. Joseph's (mainly PNG and Asian students); and Ela Murray International School (more expats than not). Ela Murray has 2 sites: Ela Beach site in Town for the preschool, and the Murray site in Boroko for other grades.

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2. What accommodations do schools make for special-needs kids?

Ela Murray elementary school seems to accomodate special needs children well if the need is an academic difficulty (you can, for example, hire a private teacher to assist in your child's classroom) or physical challenge. It is not particularly equipped to challenge gifted children, so you may want to bring extra materials, but in PNG your children will be learning many new things aside from academics, and will not be bored!

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3. Are preschools available? Day care? Are these expensive? What has been your experience with them, if any? Do the schools provide before- and/or after-school care?

Parents we know are happy with the Ela Beach preschool program, which starts at age 2. Haus Meris are readily available for in-home care.

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Expat Life:

1. What is the relative size of the expatriate community? How would you describe overall morale among expatriates?

Community is medium sized (everyone knows everyone's business, but you have some social options). It's largely Australians and Asians.

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2. Morale among expats:

Good. Those who are active in water sports (boating, diving, snorkeling) and take trips or live outside of Port Moresby like PNG. Many also go to Australia for R&R.

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3. What are some typical ways to socialize, either with local people or with other expatriates? Are there groups or clubs that you can recommend?

Moderate social life, mainly in homes or at the Yacht Club. For singles, at the hotel bars and Yacht Club. Some live music. No cinema or bowling alley. Occasional art or theater events. People tend to be around on the weekends because travel in PNG is all by air. Children do not usually invite all the kids in the class to their parties, so it is not a constant birthday circuit like in some posts.

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4. Is this a good city for single people? For couples? For families? Why or why not?

It is good for families, couples, and single men. A number of married men's families stay in Australia for school/safety reasons.

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5. Is this a good city for LGBT expatriates? Why or why not?

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6. Are there problems with ethnic, race/racial minorities or religious prejudices? Gender equality?

The country is largely Christian. There are some violent conflicts between ethnic groups in parts of the Highlands, but not in Port Moresby. Although the country has a reputation for widespread domestic violence, the government has been raising awareness on this and attitudes (if not behavior) are slowly changing. It is not uncommon for women in your workplace to be experiencing domestic violence at home. But as an expat woman, you will be treated respectfully at work and in your daily life. Regarding race, we have been struck by some of the outward racism from Australians towards PNGers, and long-term Australians towards Asians here.

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7. What are some interesting/fun things to do in the area? Can you recommend any “hidden gems"?

The reefs in PNG are amazing and breathtaking. In Port Moresby: diving and snorkeling (from Airways, Yacht Club or Loloata Island); day or weekend trips to Loloata; sailing (yachts, Hobie Cat 16s, and Optimists for the kids), motor boating, going to Lolorua or Fisherman's Island; traditional Pacific kayaking; going Crystal Rapids picnic and swimming in river; Bootless Bay or other private beach day trips north of Port Moresby; tennis, soccer, squash, gyms; Port Moresby Arts Theatre; Aliance Francaise activities at the university; BBQ and hanging out at the Yacht Club; volunteering (but you need a visa for this if it's more than a couple hours a week).

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8. Is this a "shopping post"? Are there interesting handicrafts, artwork, antiques, or other items that people typically buy there?

Story boards and life sized wood carvings from Sepik river, paintings, penis gourds, lizard skin hand drums, and baskets.

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9. Can you save money?

Yes.

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Words of Wisdom:

1. Knowing what you know now, would you still move to this city?

Yes.

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2. If you move here, you can leave behind your:

Snow gear; expensive jewelry; and furniture.

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3. But don't forget your:

Scuba/snorkeling gear (prescription mask if you wear glasses), boating and water sports equipment; cookbooks; cooler; grill; and beach tent.

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4. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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5. Do you recommend any books or movies about this city/country for those who are interested in learning more?

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6. Recommended movies/DVDs related to this city:

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7. Do you have any other comments?

Papua New Guineans are wonderful, welcoming people and the reefs are spectacular!

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