Cost of Living in Malaysia

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The cost of living in Malaysia is relatively low compared to neighbouring countries such as Singapore. The main discrepancy in prices is evident when buying cigarettes, alcohol or luxury items, as Malaysia places a higher sales tax on these items.

Cost of accommodation in Malaysia

Malaysia offers a range of accommodation options, and the price is highly dependent on what you are after. When looking for accommodation it is always good to enquire about the local traffic in the area, and to double check the daily routes you will take as a short distance can become a long commute during rush hour traffic. Using public transport can become a lifesaver.

Renting a two-bedroom condo in an upmarket area of Kuala Lumpur can cost up to RM6,000 and above per month. Nicer (not luxurious) condos average RM8,000 - 10, 000. Accommodation in other districts is sometimes half the price you would expect to pay in central KL. Household running costs also vary, but budgeting an average of RM600/month for expenses such as electricity, water and gas (excluding condo fees) should be sufficient.

Cost of food and eating out in Malaysia

Food prices are generally quite low, particularly if you are buying local products. Malaysia has a fine range of cuisine from across the world, and this is reflected in the many types of restaurants available. Street food in Malaysia is a great experience and provides for a cheap night out; even restaurant meals will seldom cost more than USD15. A main course meal at a foreign restaurant (e.g. an Italian restaurant) can cost between USD15-20. Alcohol gets expensive though, so drinks can increase the meal bill substantially. 

Expats moving to Malaysia are sure to enjoy the local markets where you can dine on street food, often better, and definitely cheaper than a sit-down meal. The markets have a range of ‘genuine’ branded products as well as a host of DVDs showing the latest films. Expats will soon find that the Malaysian shopping experience can pose a threat to a healthy bank balance.

Cost of electrical goods in Malaysia

Malaysia, like the rest of Asia, has a range of very cheap and good quality electrical products. Cameras, computers and mobile phones are all inexpensive, and expats will find that the range of products available is hard to beat. When shopping for electrical goods, it is best to go in knowing exactly what you are looking for, or you may run the risk of leaving with more than you bargained for. There are often sales and special deals, particularly around religious holidays, and so shopping around does have its rewards. A decent flat-screen television will cost about USD500, although better deals are available. A portable DVD player, a must have for all subway commuters, usually costs less than USD100.

Cost of living in Malaysia chart (Prices for Kuala Lumpur, 2014)

(Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices)

1 litre milk
RM 6
Loaf of white read
RM 2.4
Rice (1kg)
RM 17-30/5kg
Dozen eggs
RM 5
Chicken breasts (1kg)
RM 11
Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro) RM 12
Mobile call rate (per minute - mobile to mobile)
RM 0.28
Internet (6 Mbps, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)) RM 145
Electricity RM 70-100
Eating out
Three-course meal at mid-range restaurant for two people
RM 250
Take-away meal (McDonalds) RM 5-10
Coffee in café
RM 9-17
Beer in bar
RM 5-20
Coca-cola (330ml) RM 2.16
Taxi rate (per km)
RM 1.15
City centre train fare
RM 2
Petrol RM 2.19/litre

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