Expat LifeMoney Know-How

An Expat’s Guide To The Cost Of Living In Malaysia

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Australia

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Malaysia has everything that may want to make someone relocate there. Besides, the rainforests, islands and beaches, Malaysia is known for being a modern, robust and ever-evolving country to live in.

According to the 2017 annual survey on ‘Quality of Living’ by consulting firm Mercer, Malaysia’s capital, Kuala Lumpur was ranked 86th among 231 cities globally. Among Asian cities, its rank was No. 10, and it ranked No. 2 in South-east Asia.

It was only recently that Malaysia opened up to foreigners of all nationalities, creating a dynamic environment to work and study. The cost of living in Malaysia as such is relatively lower than neighbouring countries such as Singapore and farther ones such as London and USA.

Lifestyle in Malaysia can be as extravagant or as humble as one wishes it to be. In 2014, Kuala Lumpur was ranked as the most affordable city for students. If you too are planning to relocate to Malaysia, it’s useful to have an idea of the cost of living there as an expat. Here’s a quick guide.

1. Accommodation & Rent

One plus point of moving to Malaysia is the affordable accommodation. If you are an expat looking for a two-bedroom condo located in an upscale market area, close to work, the monthly rent can be RM4000 onwards, while accommodation in other districts can be found at half of that price.

On an average, the monthly rent ranges between RM350 to RM3000, depending on the locality. For students, most colleges and universities offer accommodation that cost between RM300 and RM600 per semester. Have a look at the average rental costs below:

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Malaysia

2. Utility Expenses

In comparison to the housing expenses, spending on utilities turns out to be a value for money affair. Depending on the area you’re living in, utility bills can vary. Utilities such as the internet, mobile recharges, gas, electricity, television and heating bills usually cost not more than RM400 even in an upmarket area. As a student, the most you would be spending on is a mobile recharge which will not be more than RM30-40.

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Malaysia

3. Transportation Costs

Public transport fares in Malaysia are very cheap as the Malaysian government has made fuel cheaper than ever, at just RM2-3 per litre. A monthly public transport pass should not cost you more than RM150 and a taxi fare at 8km/hr costs RM20 on a usual business day.

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Malaysia

4. Education Costs

Malaysia as a country has never compromised on education. With most of its educational institutes being counted within the top 200 universities in the world, you can only imagine why Malaysia is rapidly growing to be a choice for higher studies. Expats are increasingly choosing to move to Malaysia with the thought of quality education at an affordable cost. Here’s what education in Malaysia would cost you:

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Malaysia

5. Food Costs

Living in Malaysia means never running out of great food options. You can enjoy affordable and delicious meals at any time of the day. Prices range from low to high, depending on the venue you choose to dine in. Fast-food chains like McDonald’s are available in commercial areas but are far costlier than local food stalls. Buying groceries is the cheaper option if you’re looking for a healthy meal. Here’s how you would spend eating in and out:

An Expat's Guide To The Cost Of Living In Malaysia

Average Cost Incurred

Here’s a summary for average monthly expenses in Malaysia.

A single living, working professional or expat would spend:

  • Rent for a one-bedroom apartment in a central location – RM2000
  • Utilities – RM400
  • Groceries – RM300
  • Eating out – RM250
  • Transportation – RM300
  • Personal expenses – RM250

The total monthly expense in Malaysia would be somewhere between RM3000 and RM4000.

A student living in a university accommodation would spend:

  • Rent on-campus – RM500
  • Utilities – RM250
  • Food – RM300
  • Transportation – RM150
  • Personal expenses – RM200

The total monthly expense for expat students in Malaysia would be around RM1500.

Clearly, Malaysia seems to be the ideal choice to live in but one must always get a clear picture before making the big shift. Whether you are an expat student or an expat worker in Malaysia, you will definitely be receiving and sending money to your home countries. This is where you need to exercise caution as most remittance firms lure clients with claims of low or zero-transfer fees, and sneak in a plethora of hidden charges.

To avoid losing out on overseas money transfers, it is always a wise move to select a money transfer service provider that allows you to instantly transfer money at a reasonable cost and no hidden charges. One such trusted transfer service is InstaReM.

As an expat or international student in Malaysia, you would be able to transfer money across 55+ countries at zero-margin FX rates. Yes, no FX margins, no hidden charges. All you pay is a nominal fee that ranges between 0.25% and 1%, depending on the country you are sending to. The cherry on the cake is InstaReM’s Best Transfer Amount Guarantee that helps you send more, save more and #DoMore for your loved ones back home.