What is The Average Cost of Living in Malaysia (Updated 2023)
# Lifestyle

What is The Average Cost of Living in Malaysia (Updated 2023)

post by Chloe Chan

by Chloe Chan

Jun 17, 2024
at 3:02 PM

Have you ever wondered what the average cost of living in Malaysia is?

Malaysia is a beautiful Southeast Asian country known for its diverse culture, stunning scenery, and delicious cuisine. However, for those considering moving to Malaysia, it is crucial to understand the cost of living in the country. The cost of living in Malaysia can vary depending on where you live, your lifestyle, and your personal preferences. In general, the cost of living in Malaysia is relatively low compared to many other countries in the region. Still, certain factors can make it more expensive. This introduction will explore key factors affecting Malaysia's cost of living, including housing, food, transportation, and healthcare. Understanding these factors allows you to decide whether Malaysia is the right place to live, work, or study.

What is the standard cost of living in Malaysia?

The cost of living in Malaysia can vary widely depending on the state and city in which you live. In general, the cost of living is higher in major urban centres like Kuala Lumpur and Penang and lower in more rural areas. Here is a breakdown of the standard cost of living in Malaysia by state, from highest to lowest:

  1. Kuala Lumpur (RM 4,500 to RM 7,500 per month) - As Malaysia's capital city, Kuala Lumpur has the highest cost of living in the country. The cost of housing, transportation, and food is high in the city, especially in the more affluent areas.
  2. Penang (RM 3,500 to RM 6,000 per month) - Penang is a popular tourist destination. It has a thriving economy, contributing to its relatively high cost of living. The cost of housing and transportation in Penang can be incredibly high.
  3. Selangor (RM 3,000 to RM 5,000 per month) - Selangor is the most developed state in Malaysia. It is home to several major cities and townships, including Shah Alam, Subang Jaya, and Petaling Jaya. The cost of living in Selangor is generally higher than in other states but varies depending on the specific area.
  4. Johor (RM 2,500 to RM 4,000 per month) - Johor is located in southern Malaysia. It is a central transportation hub with several important ports and airports. The cost of living in Johor can be high in some areas but is generally lower than in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, and Selangor.
  5. Sabah (RM 2,000 to RM 3,500 per month)  - Sabah is a state located on the island of Borneo. It is known for its natural beauty and ecotourism. The cost of living in Sabah is generally lower than in the more developed states of Peninsular Malaysia.
  6. Sarawak (RM 2,000 to RM 3,500 per month)  - Sarawak is another state located on the island of Borneo. It is known for its diverse cultures and stunning natural scenery. The cost of living in Sarawak is generally lower than in peninsular Malaysia.

It's important to note that these rankings are based on general trends and can vary depending on each state's specific city or town. The cost of living in Malaysia can also fluctuate depending on economic factors, such as inflation and currency exchange rates.

For those interested in exploring job opportunities and experiencing life in Malaysia, you can find a range of job listings in Kuala Lumpur, jobs in Penang, jobs in Selangor, jobs in Johor, jobs in Sabah, jobs in Sarawak and other cities on platforms like Ricebowl. Want to know how much you earn based on your job title and location? Check out our salary checker to ensure you stay within the market rate.

How much does food cost for an average day in Malaysia?

The cost of food in Malaysia can vary depending on various factors, such as where you are located, the type of food you eat, and where you choose to dine. However, in general, the cost of food in Malaysia is relatively affordable compared to many other countries.

For an average day, you can expect to spend around RM 20 to RM 40 on food. This includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks throughout the day.

If you eat at hawker centres, food courts, or local street stalls, you can expect to pay around RM 5 to RM 15 per meal. These places are often the most affordable and offer a wide variety of delicious local dishes.

If you prefer to eat at mid-range restaurants, you can expect to pay around RM 20 to RM 50 per meal. This includes restaurants that serve local cuisine as well as international cuisine.

Overall, the cost of food in Malaysia is relatively affordable, and plenty of options are available to suit all tastes and budgets.

What are the benefits of working in Malaysia as an ex-pat? 

There are several benefits to working in Malaysia as an ex-pat. Here are a few of the key advantages:

  1. Strong economy: Malaysia is home to a growing economy, which has attracted many foreign investors and multinational corporations. This provides many job opportunities, particularly in the finance, technology, and healthcare industries.
  2. Low cost of living: The cost of living in Malaysia is relatively low compared to many other countries, particularly in terms of housing, transportation, and food. This can make it an attractive location for ex-pats who want to live comfortably while also saving money.
  3. Multicultural environment: Malaysia is a multicultural country with a diverse population, which makes it an interesting and exciting place to live and work. This diversity also provides opportunities for ex-pats to learn about new cultures and build relationships with people from different backgrounds.
  4. High quality of life: Malaysia offers a high quality of life with excellent healthcare, modern infrastructure, and a generally safe and secure environment. This can make it an attractive option for ex-pats looking for a comfortable and enjoyable lifestyle.
  5. Easy visa and work permit process: The Malaysian government has made it relatively easy for foreign nationals to obtain work visas and work permits. This can make relocating and finding employment in Malaysia much easier for ex-pats.

What are the cons of living in Malaysia?

While there are many benefits to living in Malaysia, there are also some potential drawbacks or challenges that ex-pats may face. Here are a few cons of living in Malaysia:

  1. Hot and humid climate: Malaysia has a tropical climate with high temperatures and humidity throughout the year. This can be challenging for some people, particularly those not used to such weather.
  2. Traffic congestion: Major cities in Malaysia, such as Kuala Lumpur and Penang, can experience heavy traffic congestion, making commuting and travelling around the city frustrating and time-consuming.
  3. Cultural differences: Ex-pats may experience some cultural differences in Malaysia, particularly in terms of language, customs, and traditions. This can be challenging for some people, especially those unfamiliar with or comfortable in diverse environments.
  4. Bureaucracy and red tape: The bureaucratic process for obtaining permits, visas, and other documentation can be lengthy and complicated, frustrating for some ex-pats.
  5. Air pollution: Malaysia has been known to experience air pollution problems, particularly during the dry season. This can harm health, particularly for those with respiratory issues.
  6. Religious restrictions: Malaysia is a predominantly Muslim country, and there are certain religious and cultural restrictions that ex-pats may need to be aware of, particularly regarding dress and behaviour in public.

It's important to note that while these are some potential drawbacks of living in Malaysia, they may not apply to everyone and many people enjoy living and working in Malaysia despite these challenges.

FAQs on Average Cost of Living in Malaysia

Q: What is the average cost of living in Malaysia?

A: The average cost of living in Malaysia varies depending on factors such as location, lifestyle, and family size. However, according to recent estimates, a single person can expect to spend around RM 2,500-3,500 per month on living expenses, while a family of four can expect to spend around RM 7,000-9,000 per month.

Q: What are the main expenses that contribute to the cost of living in Malaysia?

A: The main expenses that contribute to the cost of living in Malaysia include accommodation, food, transportation, healthcare, and education.

Q: How does the cost of living in Malaysia compare to other countries in Southeast Asia?

A: The cost of living in Malaysia is generally lower than in neighbouring countries such as Singapore and Thailand. However, it can vary depending on the specific location and lifestyle.

Q: Is it possible to live comfortably on a modest budget in Malaysia?

A: Yes, it is possible to live comfortably on a modest budget in Malaysia. With careful budgeting and planning, it is possible to find affordable accommodation, food, and transportation options that still provide a good quality of life.

Q: Are there any tips for managing the cost of living in Malaysia?

A: Some tips for managing the cost of living in Malaysia include seeking out affordable housing options, cooking at home instead of eating out, using public transportation, and taking advantage of promotions and discounts. It's also important to create and stick to a budget, and to avoid unnecessary expenses.


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