The cost of living in Malaysia is relatively low compared to neighbouring countries. In Mercer's Cost of Living Survey for 2022, Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru ranked 181st out of 211th respectively out of 227 cities surveyed worldwide. This puts even Malaysia's most expensive city, the capital, well below nearby Singapore (8th). Other regional capitals such as Manila (122nd) and Jakarta (151st) also have significantly higher costs of living.

Accommodation will most likely be the largest expense that expats will need to cover. It's possible to save by living outside of the capital and avoiding renting in city centres, opting for somewhat less convenient but much cheaper suburban options.


Cost of accommodation in Malaysia

Malaysia offers a range of accommodation options at varying prices that are highly dependent on the type of home an expat is looking for, as well as its location. When viewing a property, it's always good to enquire about the local traffic in the area and to double-check possibilities for daily routes, as a short distance can become a long commute during rush-hour traffic. Easy access to public transport is also often a lifesaver, but will push up the cost of rent.

Household running costs can vary, and on top of the basic rent, expats will need to budget for utilities such as electricity, water and gas.


Cost of food and eating out in Malaysia

Food prices are generally quite low, particularly if 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. Indulging in some Malaysian street food is a great experience and makes for a cheap night out, and even restaurant meals can be reasonable. Alcohol is expensive, though, so drinks can increase the bill substantially.

Expats moving to Malaysia will also have fun exploring local markets where they can dine on stall food, which is often more authentic, and definitely cheaper, than a sit-down meal.


Cost of electrical goods in Malaysia

Malaysia, like the rest of Asia, has a range of affordable and good-quality electrical products. Cameras, computers, mobile phones and other items are all inexpensive. There are often sales and special deals, particularly around religious holidays, so shopping around does have its rewards.


Cost of living in Malaysia chart

Note that prices may vary depending on product and service provider and the list below shows average prices for Kuala Lumpur in August 2022.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

MYR 1,850

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

MYR 1,200

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

MYR 3,600

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

MYR 2,300

Groceries

Milk (1 litre)

MYR 7.20

Loaf of white bread

MYR 3.60

Rice (1kg)

MYR 6.80

Dozen eggs

MYR 7.40

Chicken breasts (1kg)

MYR 15

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

MYR 18

Utilities/household

Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

MYR 0.30

Internet (uncapped per month)

MYR 110

Basic utilities per month (electricity, gas, water)

MYR 230

Eating out

Three-course meal at mid-range restaurant for two people

MYR 100

Big Mac

MYR 18

Cappuccino

MYR 12

Local beer (500ml)

MYR 15

Coca-Cola (330ml)

MYR 2.60

Transport

Taxi rate (per km)

MYR 5

City-centre public transport (one-way ticket)

MYR 3

Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

MYR 2.10