Cost of Living in Malaysia

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

According to the 2019 Mercer Cost of Living Survey, Kuala Lumpur ranked 141st  out of 209 cities surveyed worldwide, placing it well below the cost of living of other Asian cities like Singapore, Beijing and Tokyo.

Cost of accommodation in Malaysia

Malaysia offers a range of accommodation options, and the price is highly dependent on what one is after. When looking for accommodation, it is always good to inquire about the local traffic in the area, and to double check the daily routes one 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 be expensive. Accommodation in other districts is sometimes half the price one would expect to pay in central KL.

Household running costs also vary, and on top of the basic rent, expats will also need to budget for expenses such as electricity, water and gas (excluding condo fees).

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. Street food in Malaysia is a great experience and provides for a cheap night out; even restaurant meals can be reasonable. Alcohol is expensive, though, so drinks can increase the cost of eating out substantially. 

Expats moving to Malaysia are sure to enjoy the local markets where they can dine on street food, which is often better, and definitely cheaper, than a sit-down meal. The markets have a range of other products and expats will also be spoiled for choice in the modern malls dotted around Malaysian cities. New arrivals 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. Expats will find that the range of products available is hard to beat. 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 October 2019.

Accommodation (monthly)

One-bedroom apartment in city centre

MYR 2,300

One-bedroom apartment outside city centre

MYR 1,300

Three-bedroom apartment in city centre

MYR 4,100

Three-bedroom apartment outside city centre

MYR 2,100


1 litre milk

MYR 6.70

Loaf of white bread

MYR 3.50

Rice (1kg)


Dozen eggs


Chicken breasts (1kg)

MYR 13

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

MYR 17.40


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

MYR 0.40


MYR 120

Basic utilities Per month (electricity, gas, water)

MYR 220

Hourly rate for domestic cleaner

MYR 31

Eating out

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

MYR 75

Take-away meal (McDonalds)

MYR 15


MYR 12

Local beer (500ml)

MYR 15

Coca-Cola (330ml)

RM 2.50


Taxi rate (per km)


City centre public transport


Petrol/gasoline (per litre)

MYR 2.20