Cost of Living in Malaysia

by Jose Marc Castro on August 10, 2009

costoflivingMALAYSIAThe cost of living in Malaysia is exceptionally low considering that it was newly referred to as a newly industrialized country. Taxation is kept at a minimum with no inheritance tax and no capital gains on assets. The Malaysian Ringgit is currently struggling to keep up with other currencies, which is the main reason why commodities and housing are cheaper in the country. Its capital city, Kuala Lumpur, has become a sort of shoppimg mecca for clothes, electronics and other consumer goods. Expatriates from the United Kingdom will enjoy the very affordable living conditions since remittances coming from other countries are not taxed.

Foreigners are actually welcome to invest in Malaysia since the government has just recently banned short selling of properties. More opportunities for business and employment are more open and present in the country. Homes are relatively sold lower than expected with the intent to boost the inflow of foreigners bringing pounds and dollars.

The Malaysian government is doing very well in providing for the needs of expatriates. Buying new cars or items will not be taxed including the ones brought from outside the country. Banks also give loans for housing and business. Malaysia now has a GDP amounting to over 300 billion euros. The Malaysian economy is projected at a GDP growth rate of 5.3%.

Food and Drinks Costs in Malaysia

Beef, poultry, pork and mutton are the most common meat products in Malaysia. These are sold widely, fresh and at very low rates. Most communities have wet markets that sell all types of meat products, sheep, goose and duck in addition to fish like tuna and sardines. These are all sold by weight. Most seafood like squid, cuttlefish and octopus are exported to other countries.

The price of meat and fish in the UK can only cost half as much in Malaysia. Fruits and vegetables are also present all-year round such as lettuce, bell pepper, papaya, kiwi, lychee, durian and mangosteen. These are also generally harvested for export purposes.  In general, it is one of the most inexpensive countries in the world to live in yet despite the cheap costs, it is also home to the fanciest five star hotels in the world.

The average Malaysian spends around 150 euros every month on food. Eating out is very affordable although there are also high-class restaurants that are rather expensive. Curry, noodles, stew and dried fish are just some of the common delicacies eaten by the average family in Malaysia. These meals could cost only around 2 euros but if homemade and ingredients are bought from local markets, overall price could go down to less than one Euro per dish depending on the meat or fish. Tea and milk are common beverages and are also very affordable.

Clothing and Accessories Costs in Malaysia

Silk and cotton is cheap in Malaysia. The batik is a traditional piece of clothing made of cotton which is sold at very affordable rates or in bulk. Shopping in Malaysia can be fun since there are several types of places that sell various items, wares and trinkets. Expatriates can visit night markets and flea shops where there are traditional and modern accessories at very competitive prices. Malls and shopping centers also house several designer labels that cost significantly less compared to the ones in the UK, again mainly due to the lower costed Malaysian Ringgit. Malaysia is ranked 96th out of 143 cities in terms of expense and cost of living.

Even if expatriates shop in Kuala Lumpur, they will most likely find prices very fair or cheap. The same item in the UK can cost around 20% less in Kuala Lumpur. Other accessories such as electronic devices, footwear, computers, household items and the like are also very affordable. Locally made products are usually of good quality. The Chinese market has not yet entered the scenes but once it does, prices are expected to plummet.

Housing Costs in Malaysia

Malaysian housing costs are low even in big cities like Kuala Lumpur. One can enjoy more space at very affordable rates in medium-sized homes or two-bedroom apartments. Apartment rentals average around 100 to 150 euros every month. House rentals range about the same.

Most of the locals prefer to live in suburban areas since these have more space, is still close to the city plus they get to have the opportunity to permanently own the property. Foreigners are encouraged as well to migrate into Malaysia. There are housing authorities and banks willing to give loans and taxes on property ownership are almost nonexistent.

Expatriates are eyeing on quality apartments and condominiums deep in the heart of the city. These are currently in shortage but the Malaysian government is actively making efforts to quickly make up with the intent to increase the influx of foreign investors. At present, the country wants more foreign investors to own land and property that help boost overall GDP and the real estate market. Penang and Johor have great scenic locations with very exceptional rates on rental and ownership.

Services Costs in Malaysia

Internet rates, telephone bills and other technological service providers are excellent in terms of quality and price. There is good internet connectivity in nearby provinces and the city outskirts which relatively costs 8 to 10 euros every month. Transportation is also good especially in the major cities. Other smaller areas still need more improvement in terms of road accessibility and transport routes.

Insurance schemes are popular especially for foreign investors and expatriates. Most policies offer very low rates with the widest selection of benefits possible in addition to the almost nonexistent Malaysian tax.

Health care is also advantageous since the government is currently investing a lot in improving facilities and services with the main objective of enforcing medical tourism. Public schools are partly subsidized by the government while there are also private schools offering quality education at higher tuition fees. Child care services are available in Kuala Lumpur while other cities are also beginning to build more.

Employment Costs in Malaysia

Expatriates and foreign investors will not have a problem seeking employment in Malaysia. Especially if their specific fields cover business, technology, trade and the stock market, most companies are willing to hire immediately. There are also a number of business owners who are looking for partners to start companies and prototypes.

Ever since the lifting of the ban on short selling of properties, the Malaysian market is beginning to improve constantly. Growth rate was estimated to be around 6% during the past year. Medical doctors are also needed for the budding healthcare enterprise. At present, the employment rate in Malaysia is estimated to be 96%. This is a testament to the burgeoning economy and the growth of Malaysia in the Far East.

{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

kayode January 25, 2012 at 4:36 pm

i want to know if i can work as a photographer in malaysia, because im a photographer. i realy like your country thanks


santosh January 26, 2012 at 11:43 am


Can some one tell me the cost of living in KL, as i got a offer there & planing to shift.. Still not sure about the cost of living.. Would 8510 RM(WITHOUT TAX) is good enfough to save & stay with a family of 3 members?

Your help would be appricated.



siri February 29, 2012 at 7:41 am

Is ringett 4500 a fine amount for a couple (middle class) at malaysia, KL?


CalW March 8, 2012 at 7:00 pm

It is not really enough to sustain a middle class lifestyle of 2 persons. I live in KL and earn Ringgit 5000. I'm a local and after paying my taxes and other compulsory deductions, my take home pay is RM4500. We are renting a basic medium cost 3 bedroom apartment for RM1000 (which is among the cheapest in KL now) and another RM1000 to maintain a small car. We go out for lunch and cook at home for dinner. This total to RM1000 per month. (Zero restaurant meals; only in normal street shops in suburban areas). Utilities, telephone and internet charges will cost us another RM500 per month. We are then left with RM1000 each month to spend freely..


Dev March 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Hi… should I search for jobs in Malaysia by travelling w/ one month visit VISA?


amit May 5, 2012 at 10:50 am


I have 2.8 years of experience and have been offered 5000 RG/month.. is that amount ok there?
am confused .. also i came to that 5000 RG is minimum wage for migrants.


ASIF June 2, 2012 at 10:05 pm

Hi, I am Asif. I am a Graduate Mechanical Engineer. 4 years job experience. What is the average salary of a 4 years' experienced and for a fresh graduate engineer in KL? What are the living costs in KL? Can anybody suggest?

House rent for single or double room apartment in KL or near KL?
Bus/train?travel cost?
Food cost?
Tax for holdings?
Tax on salary?
Other costs?


airah kerizawa June 12, 2012 at 8:20 am

hello may i know how much cost to apply for a medical insurance in malaysia for a couple?


latif June 17, 2012 at 6:15 am

iam mohammad latif .i want to study and also i want busniss in there .how can i take 10 years visa


asadullah June 17, 2012 at 6:19 am

We are a family of seven, we wish to migrate to Malaysia. can some one guide me as below

What will be the rent for a 3 bed room house.

Monthly food expense for three of us.

Cost of education (monthly fee) for A level for my son.

Can I work there on 10 years visa permit.


el fluerma June 26, 2012 at 1:44 pm

it really depends on which province you get to work at. Eastern Malysia is really cheap. you can have great savings with salary of ringgit 5000


Guest A July 15, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Hi Guys, I have been offered a job in KL near the city center in Bukit Demansara of about RM 13,000/- incl. 500 fuel and 250 cellular… this is the monthly take home number post all relevant taxation. I understand that 70% Malaysians live under 5k salary but I come from Pakistan where I have always earnt better than 95% of the populace. So my questions are:

– From my research, Malaysia is 55% more expensive than Pakistan overall. If I run my salary number by that percentage this is just a 25% increase. Is it worth it?
– Will I be able to maintain my current standard of living and save some money? Everyone says 10k RM is enough but my question is enough for what?
a. Rent: 2 people 2 beds 2 baths furnished pet friendly accomodation: ??
b. Vehicle: Whats a decent vehicle in Malaysia? And how much is the monthly expense including fuel if you are living in central KL?
c. Daily expenses: Not a big fan of street food, never have been and will majorly be eating out… how much should I expect?
d. Services: Im sorry Im spoilt always have been… How does home cleaning and cooking work in Malaysia. In PK, we have cooks and maids, etc. How much would this cost me?

Would love some help from someone who knows the desi quirks into that kind of a scenario.

Best regards,



J. Ghani July 17, 2012 at 10:09 pm

What is the tax structure in Malaysia? How much of the earnings are tax free per year and then what percentage of tax is applied as the earning bracket increases? What is the maximum tax you will pay as a percentage? Anyone who knows the answer to these questions, it will be very much appreciated if they can let me know. Thanks.


Shanker August 1, 2012 at 10:21 am

Hi , I got a opportunity to work in malaysia, but they pay RM800 per month then room allowances and travel allowances are free , This much of amount is enough or not pls reply


Amit October 4, 2012 at 11:36 am

Its not enough man, Simple ad cheap food costs 20RM a day so only food expense for month will be 600 RM


suman kumar August 1, 2012 at 5:39 pm

i want to know about average living expense in kuala lumpur for an international student per month in terms of ringitt.


SARA August 7, 2012 at 2:06 pm

I have been offered a phd stipend of 2000ringit and Iwish to come along with my 3 year old daughter and husband plz can any one guide me about the living expence of three esspecially ,a two or one bed appatment ,food and grossory , utility bills , travelling expence and temperature of johor bharu


Khan August 14, 2012 at 3:52 pm

What are the rules to get a permanent residency in Malayasia. I am citizen of Canada. Thanks,


umesh August 19, 2012 at 1:31 pm

How much MYR is enough for a Family of 2 adults and one schooling kids in kuala lumpur and if how much money i can save monthly?


Pugazhendi August 23, 2012 at 3:50 pm

i am offered a job in Malaysia of 2000 Rm with Accommodation and Food free, is it worth coming as a single person


pugazhendi August 24, 2012 at 6:25 pm

i have been offered 2200 rm with Food and Accommodation is it worth taking this offer for now i am single mail me at [email protected]


Raj September 4, 2012 at 6:58 am

Hi this is Raj from Hyderabad, India, I got a job offer and they are offering me if 2250 Rm will be enough to stay in K.L for me and my wife and a small kid? Please let me know ASAP.

Thanks in Advance.


maha September 9, 2012 at 11:48 am

hey can u plz tell me i got appointment letter from changkat specialst center kualalumpur for doctor with salary of 8300 USD and benefits, is this center really exists or not? nd is this good offer


andres October 1, 2012 at 7:35 pm

Hi Evreyone, I have been offered 12,5k RM/ per Monthly. kindly advise if its a good salary for family 3 ( a kid of 5 years) thinking about International School…please advice.


GTS November 6, 2012 at 7:54 am

Hai, I looking for professor position in Malaysian Universities. What will be the Average Pay?


patplu December 11, 2012 at 6:28 am

Hi – we are looking at moving to Malaysia and need to know a bit more about visa regulations in regards to Stepchildren – myself and my daughter will need to be on his visa but she is his stepdaughter – will this make a difference?


MELU May 15, 2013 at 4:41 pm

I got an oportunity to join in a company in Petaling Jaya Selangor,Malaysia. Itz a contract job for 1 year. They offer salary apprx 53000 INR per month. Is this salary is affordable for living cost there. How much the rent, food amount there. I am a engineer. So after the contact , is it possible to get another job?….


Amit July 27, 2013 at 12:25 pm

i think they have offered you 3000MYR, Its not enough for living in malaysia. I have 5k salary, i pay tax 1300 (its only for 6 months), 500 for room (it depends on area again), i spend 20RM a day for food (600 a month), 2-3 RM a day for traveling (60 a month), mobile recharge 100 a month. I suggest you look for another job or ask them to give them a good salary.


Alvin May 29, 2013 at 7:38 am

I am a teacher-librarian (Bachelor degree with 5 years experience) and got an offer of RM2400 per month. The accommodation is free (in site) excluding the food. Is this a good enough? Would I be able to save money?

I am looking for your response soon.


Amit July 27, 2013 at 12:26 pm

This is not enough, If you are single then you can manage but you have to find really cheap room like 200-300 RM a month, and have to each cheap food like rice and sambhar only 2 times a day


janani September 7, 2014 at 8:53 am

does 6300rm is enough for 2 adult and a kid in kuala lumpur??????


pmj December 4, 2014 at 3:43 pm

I have been offered a teaching job with salary 3000 ringgit / month. The accommodation shall be provided by school. All I need to spend on is food & clothing. Is 3000 ringgit sufficient enough?


Pradip April 9, 2015 at 11:02 am

Hi, I have been offered 8000 MYR/Ringget from one of a company in Kuala Lampur. What will be in hand after tax deduction. Also if I will leave with my wife as a normal life (like 1 BHK appartment etc.) then how much will cost for a month in an average. Please reply as early as possible.


William Lynch August 23, 2016 at 7:03 pm

I would make 11,000 RM if I moved to Malaysia. Is that a comfortable living for a single person in Malaysia?


Emmanuel January 24, 2017 at 9:04 am

please i need info. about the cost of living in malaysia for a student who wish to pick up a study MBBS as an undergraduate. please i also need info base on university that offer such coursesb and their rate. thank you.


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