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Cost of Living in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Updated on November 19, 2021
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Born and raised in Malaysia, Mazlan is proud of his Malaysian and Asian heritage. He likes to write about its culture and current issues.

Malaysian Ringgit has Weakened against the US$

Are you moving to Malaysia for work or study, or interested in “Malaysia My Second Home Program”?

Then this article on the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia will help you in your pay negotiation, in preparing your budget for your stay here or to calculate how much you need to maintain your current standard of living. I worked and traveled outside my home country before and knows how difficult it can be to find a reliable source on the cost of living, especially with input from the local people. So I try to be thorough and include as much information as possible.

Kuala Lumpur is not an expensive city to live in, even with the implementation of the Goods & Service Tax (GST). But the prices of imported goods have recently risen due largely to the weak Malaysian currency. This is partly due to the current political scandal.

The Malaysian Ringgit was hovering around RM 3.20 to the US$ in early 2015. After the scandal, it weakened by 30% and went as low as RM 4.38 to the US$1 (November 17th, 2015). At the time of writing, it has now strengthened to RM 3.95 to the dollar.

If you are looking at salary scale, please account for this temporary dip in the foreign exchange.

With the rising cost of living in Malaysia, how many Ringgit can you save now?
With the rising cost of living in Malaysia, how many Ringgit can you save now?

Cost of Living in Malaysia has Risen

In addition, the government has reduced subsidies on petrol, diesel, liquefied petroleum gas and cooking oil. Toll rates on certain stretches of privatized highways have also risen.

These had increased transportation and food cost, which all add up to the rise in the cost of living, not only in Kuala Lumpur but in other parts of Malaysia.

But don’t worry. If you cut your dependence on imported food stuff and other branded item, you can still live cheaply in Malaysia.

This article shows the prices of goods and the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur. You can also use the same figures for other parts of Malaysia, except for the following places:

• East Malaysia, where cost of goods is roughly 10% higher
• Rental and transport cost will be cheaper in other towns. As a guide, you can reduce it by 10-15% of the Kuala Lumpur prices.

These prices are based on my personal research and inspection at supermarkets and other centers as of end-June 2016.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with its affordable cost of living is an ideal choice for students or if you are on a budget travel
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia with its affordable cost of living is an ideal choice for students or if you are on a budget travel

Cost of Food in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Common grocery item price will vary by store. The prices listed here are from Tesco, an international supermarket chain store that has several outlets in Kuala Lumpur and the neighboring towns of Petaling Jaya, Shah Alam, and Klang. You can also buy some of these items at lower prices if there are on daily or weeklong deals.

Dairy Produce Cost in Malaysia

Large Farm Eggs (6 pcs) RM2.69
Soft Margarine 240g RM5.59
Cheese Slices 12 Individually Wrapped 200g RM8.99
Wholegrain Slice Bread 400g RM3.20
Fresh Pasteurized Milk 1L RM6.99
Mozzarella Cheese 200g RM17.59
White bread sliced 400g RM2.40
Anchor New Zealand Salted Butter 227g RM9.49
Edam Cheese 250g RM18.59

Fresh Meat, Poultry & Fish Prices Malaysia

Australian Defrosted Beef RM8.99/kg
Chicken Boneless Breast RM14.99/kg
Fresh Sardine RM8.99/kg
Australian Frozen Mutton RM25.79/kg
Grouper RM13.99/kg
Salmon Block RM22.89/kg
Whole Chicken RM6.99/kg
Pomfret RM6.99/kg
Tuna RM9.99/kg

Cost of Fresh Fruits & Vegetable Malaysia

Washington Red Delicious Apple 8 pcs RM14.99
Butterhead Lettuce RM2.99 each
Local Potatoes RM1.99/kg
Lemon RM1.49 each
Watercress 250g RM2.99
Russet Washington Potatoes 1.5kg RM5.99
Australian Navel Oranges 8pcs RM16.99
Cauliflower RM 5.99/kg
Broccoli RM9.29/kg

Grains & Noodle Cost in Malaysia

Local White Rice 10kg RM22.99
Spaghetti 500g RM3.89
Dal Beans RM4.79/kg
Basmati Rice 5kg RM25.49
Fresh Yellow Noodles 900g RM2.49
Red Beans RM12.19/kg
Thai Fragrant Rice 5kg RM26.90
Instant Noodle 6 x 77g RM3.99
Soya Beans RM6.89/kg

Cost of Spices & Cooking Oil in Malaysia

Fennel Seed RM10.79/kg
Meat Curry Powder RM14.02/kg
Cooking Oil (Palm Oil) 5kg RM13.35
Black Pepper Powder RM55.24/kg
Chilli Powder RM18.27/kg
Blended Cooking Oil 5kg RM14.70
Coriander RM13.59/kg
Fish Curry Powder RM14.02/kg
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 250ml RM12.69

Bottled & Can Drinks, Coffee, Tea, Beer and Wine Cost in Malaysia

Mineral Water 600ml RM0.50
Lipton Yellow Label Black Tea 100 Tea Bags x 2g RM10.99
Dewar White Label Whiskey 700ml RM179.99
Can Coca-Cola 325ml RM1.65
Bottled Coca-Cola 1.5L RM2.69
Wine Osborne 750ml (Spain) RM74.99
Nescafé Gold Rich Aroma Pure Soluble Coffee 50g RM10.99
Mineral Water 1.5L RM1.05
Budweiser Beer Bottles (4x355ml) RM46.99

Baby Items - Cost of Diapers, Toiletries, Infant Milk Formula in Malaysia

Disposal Diaper 48 pcs 3-6kg RM23.09
Dumex Bebelac Infant Formula 0 - 12 Months 400g RM25.40
Johnson's Baby Conditioning Shampoo 100ml RM7.89
Disposal Diaper 46pcs 6-11kg RM24.25
Dumex Dupro 2 Follow Up Formula 6-36 Months 600g RM19.60
Johnson's Baby Bath 200ml RM7.89
Johnson’s Baby Skincare Cotton Soft Wipes 20 pieces RM4.15
Anmum Materna Chocolate Formulated Milk For Pregnant Women 350g RM24.39
Johnson's Aloe Vera Vitamin E Baby Oil 125ml RM6.90
This semi furnish house at Ara Damansara, a relatively expensive area, about 24 km from Kuala Lumpur city center (KLCC) rents out at RM12,000 per month. House built up area 6,654 sq. ft.
This semi furnish house at Ara Damansara, a relatively expensive area, about 24 km from Kuala Lumpur city center (KLCC) rents out at RM12,000 per month. House built up area 6,654 sq. ft.

Housing - Rental Cost for Kuala Lumpur Malaysia

Monthly Rent of Apartment in Kuala Lumpur

  • In Expensive Area, (Mont Kiara, Tiffani Kiara), partly furnished (815 sq. ft., 1+1 room) at RM3,800
  • In Expensive Area, (KLCC Binjai), unfurnished (2096 sq. ft., 4 bedrooms) at RM5,500
  • In Less Expensive Area, (Ampang, One Ampang Avenue) unfurnished (1061 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms) at RM2,300
  • In Less Expensive Area, (Cheras, Tmn Connaught) unfurnished (650 sq. ft., 2 bedrooms) at RM650

Monthly Rent of Houses in Kuala Lumpur

  • In Expensive Area, Bangsar, Bungalow with pool, (5 rooms) at RM9,000
  • In Expensive Area, Damansara Heights, Bungalow with pool, (4+1 rooms) at RM10,000
  • In Less Expensive Area, Ampang Jaya, Bungalow (5 rooms) at RM3,800
  • In Less Expensive Area, Taman Desa, 2 story link house (4+1 rooms) at RM2,600

Some of Malaysian Telco Providers and their Prepaid Plans
Some of Malaysian Telco Providers and their Prepaid Plans

Utility Cost and Mobile Phone Networks for Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Utility Cost, Malaysia

On average, for a small apartment of 1,000 sq. ft. (3 bedrooms with air condition), your electricity and water bill will cost RM500.00.

Mobile Network/Wi-Fi Rate, Malaysia

If you are on a short-term stay, buy the Traveler’s SIM card. With Traveler’s SIM card, it will cost you RM0.36 per minute/per video call/per SMS/per MMS to all networks for domestic rates. Wi-Fi plan is at RM2 for day-to-day usage (500MB) or RM8 for weekly usage (2GB). IDD rates will vary:

  • To the USA, it is at RM0.07
  • To the UK at RM0.16
  • To India at RM0.08
  • To China at RM0.10
  • To Saudi Arabia at RM0.35 and etc.

(All for 30 seconds)

For a long-term stay, it is cheaper with the many options and promotions for both the prepaid or post-paid plan offered by all the network operators. Check around for the best deal.

Entertainment – Going to the Cinema

Ticket to the movie on average cost RM16, but it is cheaper by almost 50% if you go on Wednesday. On other days, it cost slightly less if you watch before 6 pm. These discounts do not apply if these days are also public holidays. Locally issued credit card companies do have special promotions, usually at 50% discount. So, don’t forget to apply for one of these credit cards.

Cigarette Cost in Malaysia

Smokers are heavily taxed in Malaysia. A package of Benson and Hedges, Dunhill, Kent or Peter Stuyvesant will set you back by RM17.00 (is it cheaper in your country?).

The light railway transit train (LRT) is the best way to move around Kuala Lumpur, esp. during peak hours.
The light railway transit train (LRT) is the best way to move around Kuala Lumpur, esp. during peak hours.

Transportation Cost in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Buses and Light Rail Transit Trains (LRT) in Kuala Lumpur

The RapidPass Integrated card for students with 50% discount on fares will give you unlimited rides for 30 days on a bus and LRT. It cost RM100 for local student and RM125 for foreign student.

For the RapidPass bus card, you have an unlimited ride on buses only, for 30 days. It cost RM 50 for local student and RM75 for foreign student.

The government had introduced a new and revamped bus network route, effective 1st Dec 2015. For another type of fares and for more information on bus and light rail transit trains, visit the public transport MYrapid website.

Taxi fare has risen. To make it affordable, try to travel in a group of 3-4 on a budget taxi. Make sure the driver switch on the meter and charge you for the metered fare. The fare is RM1.40 per km with a base cost of RM3.00.

Taxi Fares in Kuala Lumpur

Taxi fare has risen. To make it affordable, try to travel in a group of 3-4 on a budget taxi. Make sure the driver switch on the meter and charge you for the metered fare. The fare is RM1.40 per km with a base cost of RM3.00.

Parking Fine

Parking fine rate is RM30 if you pay within the two week grace period. After that, you pay more.

Toll Roads around Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur and the suburbs are practically littered with privately funded and managed roads. If you drive and intend to take the ‘faster’ way, be prepared to pay tolls. The rate varies for different routes, which are managed by different concessionaires and starts from RM2.00

Petrol Cost in Malaysia

The retail prices of RON95 and RON97 petrol have been fluctuating, depending on world oil prices. As of July 2016, RON95 retails at RM1.75 per liter and for RON97 at RM2.10 per liter. Diesel prices are still the cheapest at RM1.60 per liter.

Despite the removal of petrol subsidy, petrol and gasoline cost in Malaysia is still the cheapest in Asia, after Brunei

Gym and Fitness Center Membership in Kuala Lumpur – How Much do You Pay?

The cheapest option is to join the Local Council’s Gym, but it is always crowded. The privately run fitness centers are expensive. If you check around, you might find a special promotion or discounted rates. One of the cheapest that I have found with zero commitment or contracts charges RM8 per entry and RM99 for the 30-day pass.

How Much Must You Earn to Meet the Rising Cost of Living in Malaysia?

If you are alone in Malaysia and still single and doesn't mind sharing accommodation with others, you can live comfortably at RM 3,500 per month. If you have a family you should ask for at least RM 7,000 per month.

If My Salary is lower than RM 3,500?

You can still survive provided you stay in dormitories or share accommodation with a group of friends who work different shift hours. Accommodation near to bus & train routes will be the best bet.

For food, cook at home and buy items that are on offer.

Cost of Living in Malaysia for International Students

The cost of living in Malaysia for a foreign student depends on the location and type of accommodation (shared, university-run accommodation units etc.) and your personal lifestyle.

Generally, if you budget for RM2,000 per month will cover most of your basic expenses. This will include public transport, rent, the internet, utilities, mobile phone bills, three meals a day (it is cheaper if a group of you share and cook at home), laundry, medical insurance, books & stationary and socializing needs (movies, clothes, haircut etc.).

Cost of Living in Kuala Lumpur or Other Parts of Malaysia - Shares Your Experience

If you are already in Kuala Lumpur or other parts of Malaysia and have tips to let others in, on any of the followings, please share them in the comment section below. Thanks.

  • How much do you spend and save every month?
  • What are the items you struggling with most?
  • Accommodation and transportation tips
  • Entertainment and socializing tips
  • Any others that merit sharing

© 2016 Mazlan A


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