Chinese investment and mining driving property prices but Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, world's second least liveable city

Alistair WalshSeptember 2, 20120 min read

Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea is the second least liveable city in the world, according to The Economist magazine. The magazine says stability is very low, healthcare poor and infrastructure lacking, though its education levels aren’t atrocious nor is its culture and environment rating the lowest.

It ranks 139th out of the magazine's list of the world's 140 most liveable cities (Melbourne is ranked first, with Sydney seventh).

Property Observer has looked at the cities ranked six through 10, plus number one, Dhaka, Bangladesh, three, Lagos, Nigeriafour, Harare, Zimbabwe, and five, Algiers, Algeria.

Strong growth in the mining sector in Papua New Guinea has led to an influx in foreign investment in the country, especially from Chinese interests.

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The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Liveability Survey assesses the locations around the world that provide the best or the worst living conditions.

The survey doesn’t include the absolute worst of the worst, just cities or business centres that people might feasibly want to live in or visit. So it does not include cities like Kabul in Afghanistan or Baghdad in Iraq, both in the grip of conflict.

Conflict is generally found to be the primary reason for the position of the bottom ranked cities.

“Threat of armed conflict will not just cause disruption in its own right, it will also damage infrastructure, overburden hospitals, and undermine the availability of goods, services and  recreational activities,” the report says.

Australia’s Smart Traveller website, published by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, advises that Papua New Guinea is in the grip of civil unrest and political tension, especially following the release of election results, which it says could fuel potentially violent, armed confrontations.

The site warns that ethnic disputes continue to flare up around the country and can quickly escalate into violent clashes.

“The clashes not only create danger within the immediate area but also promote a general atmosphere of lawlessness, with an associated increase in opportunistic crime,” the site says.

“Car-jacking is an ever-present threat, particularly in Port Moresby and Lae. Car doors should be locked with windows up at all times, and caution should be taken when travelling after dark. In the evening or at night, we recommend you travel in a convoy.”

Travellers are also warned about potential kidnappings and a heightened risk of robbery and attack even at well attended shopping centres in Port Moresby.

So what happens if you get posted to a gold mine in Papua and you end up having to buy a property?

Perhaps because it’s a former Australian territory there seems to be a number of Australian-based real estate agents in the city.

The recently approved liquefied natural gas project has sent property prices soaring, according to 2011 reports, and local agent Andrew Henry from Century 21 agrees.

“The market has changed since 2011, there’s a lot of new buildings, new houses new apartments, all this has happened in the last couple of years.”

He says the median price for houses is around $670,000 and for apartments it’s around $200,000.

He says the security situation in the country is much better than it has been in the past.

“In security terms it’s good, not nearly as bad as before. Before it was a bit scary and it was hard to move around. But at this stage there’s more freedom of movement, you can go wherever you want to go.”

Henry says there’s an increasing number of foreigners buying in Port Moresby as more and more projects are improved and expects the price to go up.

In Korobosea, in the inner-north of Port Moresby, Century 21 is selling a three-bedroom colonial-style home for $1.1 million (pictured below). It comes with a large backyard and a Hills hoist to remind you of home.

Alistair Walsh

Deutsche Welle online reporter
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