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Cost of Living in Malaysia

By Joshua Wood, LPC

Last updated on Feb 18, 2023

Summary: The cost of living in Malaysia is generally considered to be quite affordable. A nice 1 bedroom apartment in Malaysia can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 USD per month, while a nice 2 bedroom apartment can cost from $800 to $1,500 USD per month. Dinner at a moderately priced restaurant in Malaysia can cost anywhere from $10 to $20 USD per person.

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Is the cost of living in Malaysia high?

We asked people how much they someone comfortably live on in Malaysia, they wrote:

"I pay US$600/mo rent, food @US$10/day (eating out/with non-alc. drink), Grab Taxi anywhere in town (up to 5 miles) US $2-5. Beer $1-2 tin/bottle. Bottle of Australian wine US$15-25!!! Local lankau rice wine or toddy $1-2. I spend about US$1200/month...tack on regional air trips and health insurance and it might go up to US$1500. Air-fare to Singapore US$20-50, double that to Bali, Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City (routing through Kuala Lumpur or Singapore). That's about what they expect a S-MM2H single applicant to show," explained one expat living in Kuching.

"In Penang you can easily live for under $800. Our budget was over that but 1/5 the cost of living in Newport Beach, Ca or Maui and a better lifestyle," said one expat in Tojong Tokong, Penang Island.

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Will I save money living in Malaysia?

"I would love to stay in Malaysia permenately. Financially it is a viable place for us to live as retired," remarked one in Penang.

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What is the average cost of housing in Malaysia?

If you are thinking about moving to Malaysia, cost of living in probably a key consideration. Expats commented about the cost of housing:

"The average cost of housing in Malaysia is generally considered to be fairly moderate, with prices depending on the location, size, and amenities. Prices can range from as low as a few hundred RM to several thousand RM per month, depending on the chosen accommodation. The cost of housing in urban areas tends to be higher than in rural or suburban areas," explained one expat.

"It's higher. A good furnished apartment in Georgetown would cost around RM.1500-3500 ($450 - 1100)," said one person in Penang.

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William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell's private medical insurance will cover you and your family wherever you may be. Whether you need primary care or complex surgery, you'll have access to the best hospitals & doctors available. Unlike some insurers, we also include medical evacuation and mental health cover in our plans (except SilverLite). Get a quote from our partner, William Russell.

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What are typical rental prices for expats in Malaysia?

"The price of a nice one bedroom apartment in Malaysia is typically in the range of mid to high hundreds per month, while the price of a nice two bedroom apartment in Malaysia is typically in the range of low to mid thousands of US Dollars per month," said an expat in Malaysia.

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What appliances are typically included in a rental?

We asked foreigners in Malaysia what appliances are typically included in a rental, and, if there is anything else included or not included that a newcomer would not expect. Replies included:

"In Malaysia, rental properties typically include common appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, water heaters, air conditioners, and cooking stoves. In some cases, the rental property may also have a microwave, dishwasher, oven, and other kitchen appliances," said one expat.

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About the Author

Joshua Wood Joshua Wood, LPC joined Expat Exchange in 2000 and serves as one of its Co-Presidents. He is also one of the Founders of Digital Nomad Exchange. Prior to Expat Exchange, Joshua worked for NBC Cable (MSNBC and CNBC Primetime). Joshua has a BA from Syracuse and a Master's in Clinical and Counseling Psychology from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Mr. Wood is also a licensed counselor and psychotherapist.

Some of Joshua's articles include Pros and Cons of Living in Portugal, 10 Best Places to Live in Ireland and Pros and Cons of Living in Uruguay. Connect with Joshua on LinkedIn.

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