06 March 2014


I landed in PNG the morning of February 2, a Sunday, and once again unpacked in my tiny, tiny, two-room apartment. Tuesday afternoon Paul and I went to see the first of many apartments Port Moresby had to offer. And by many, I mean MAAAAAAAAANY, because my husband cannot just see a few - he needs to see all. And I mean ALL.

We began our search on February 4 and I finally convinced Paul to stop looking on February 24 when we officially saw our last apartment. 20 days, people - 20 days of calling, driving, searching, peeking, peering, inquiring, researching, stalking.

What motivated us to move?

To make a long story short, when we left Singapore nearly a year ago (four weeks short of a year ago, actually), we were initially told that Paul could be based in our favorite city-state, so we packed up all of our belongings (OK the sherpas packed up all of our belongings) and paid to have them placed in storage for a couple months. Fast forward to today: we live in PNG, our items are still in storage in Singapore and Paul is tired of paying the bill. If we are not moving back to Singapore, we are going to have our items shipped here. However, in order to have a place to put said items, we need more space.

We spent two months in the U.S. for the holidays and decided that when we returned to PNG, we were going to move. So we set out to find every available apartment in Port Moresby.

Our experience researching apartments was more difficult than prior experiences in Singapore, as many can probably imagine. In nearly a month researching and viewing available apartments, we found a total of four websites listing available properties; two were real estate brokerage firms and two were property sites. Translation: we did a lot of driving around, crashing compounds and asking for a property manager's phone number.

Smart people contact an agent, right? Right. We were smart. We spoke with a few property agents and told them our requirements and our desires. Every one of them was kind enough to tell us which of their listed properties met our requirements (not many, by the way) and refused to do any research on their end. Translation: if the brokerage firm did not represent the property, the agents were not going to inquire about availabilities or show us any residences.

Luckily security guards understand basic English and know who the property managers are. We were able to pull into compounds, roll down the window and politely ask for a property manager. Guards willingly provided phone numbers, allowed us to drive around the properties and sometimes accompanied us to management offices so that we could meet the manager. Translation: security guards are friends.

We searched high and low, on top of the hills and down at sea level. Since we visited so many properties and viewed so many units, I thought I would give you a tour in three parts. Over the next three posts, we will take a look at the contenders, the non-contenders and the must haves. Let's start with the non-contenders.

Our first property is located on a hill overlooking the valley. There are five classes of buildings constructed at five separate times: building 1 is the oldest; building 5 is the newest. Paul and I took a look at one- and two- bedroom units. Since those are hard to come by these days, we also saw a few three-bedroom units.

I would like to point out that these photos were originally for the sole purpose of reminding ourselves which place was which - we had no intent of sharing them so they are not pretty. Also note that there are three men in the photographs: Paul and two co-workers who also came along for the ride. They were also looking for places. One is living in our current compound and the other has been living in a hotel room since August. No joke.

These units qualified in the non-contenders category because they were just bad compared to every other property we saw...and smelled. They were old, unclean, musty, rundown and, ultimately, not contenders in the long race. We looked at four of the five buildings on the compound; three of the four units fell into the this category. We'll get to the fourth one later.

In the older buildings, only three-bedroom units were available. They were within our budget so we went ahead and scheduled a viewing. The pictures are so bad that I almost don't want to post them but I know some of you really want to see, so here we go.

The main floor of the three-bedroom townhouse. For the record, Paul loves townhouses but this one did not make the cut.

I believe this was the worst place we saw, so nothing completely awful, but we knew we could do better. There had to be better. One of the benefits of this place was a small fenced yard that came with a place to hang laundry.

The kitchen was decent but outdated.

A laundry room was a plus; there is a dryer but no washer. I'm pretty sure the washer would have been provided. The laundry area was on the lowest level.

Upstairs were the bedrooms and where we lost interest. Ugly carpet, musty rooms, awful furniture.

This concludes property number one. Next!

The second building was newer than the first but still not great. All in all, it would have been fine but we were looking for better than fine.

Paul and I could have our own beds!

Or that one.

You're so jealous of this kitchen, aren't you? I know you are.

The view of the valley was nice and quite unique. The property is one of just a few that look inward instead of outward toward the sea. 

Our final Era Dornia property was actually the first we saw. The area was spacious but very dirty. The fixtures were more modern than the other two and the furniture was slightly more upscale. This one had great views.

Spacious living area....check.


Ceiling fan and ample storage. Good.

Great view, right? *Sneak Peak* This view also includes an actual contender.
So this place wasn't bad but there were other factors. The common spaces were not ideal and neither was the location. While the compound was on a hill and definitely guarded with low traffic flow, there were no amenities nearby. The grocery stores, gas stations and restaurants were all off property. The buildings were also constructed up against the hillside, which made me leery about overall safety (mudslides, earthquakes).

All in all not a bad property, but it was the first we saw and we hoped others could do better.

One morning later that week, Paul and I took a drive down roads we didn't even know existed - some of them should not have been roads in the first place. Potholes - craters, really - and rocks were more prevalent than pavement.

We looked like common stalkers as we drove slowly, crept in front of compounds, cautiously checked out the area and sometimes rolled down our windows to speak with security guards. If we saw a place that looked nice, we wrote down the name, a phone number if we saw one or occasionally left a business card for the property manager.

It took a bit of research and persistent calling on our end but we were eventually able to secure appointments at some of the places. One such place stood high on top of a hill overlooking in marina. The building was gorgeous and so was the view. Unfortunately, the nicest thing about the apartment was the set of stairs leading to the lower level.

The Granville property had a great location on top of a hill, not far from amenities like the clubs and the grocery. The guards looked rough but were kind and the property manager was very kind. The property was managed by a brokerage and management firm that was well-known throughout the city and reportedly provided great service.

The unit we saw was a two-bedroom, two-level unit; the bedrooms and ensuite bathrooms were on the main level, along with a small living space; the kitchen area, which included an area for a dining space, was located downstairs.

The laundry facilities were located outside on the lower level, but the only way to access the laundry area was through this glass door, to the right, down external stairs that led to the left. Even though the laundry area was on the other side of the kitchen windows, there was no door leading from the kitchen to the laundry area.

Back inside, these stairs led to the lower level

Though the apartment had some great features, the functionality was wrong. We could not see ourselves living comfortably in the apartment.

We could, however, see ourselves living comfortably in the complex's gym, and I may have asked the manager how much it would be to move into that room.

The view was stunning and I loved the space with its wood floors and four walls of windows. I would have needed a bathroom but not much else.

The views were stunning and the breeze was incredible. Unfortunately the unit we saw was not privy to either. Cue Debbie Downer music.

So those were the non-contenders. Next up are the contenders - the spaces we liked and would be happy in, if only.....

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