Many digital nomads and retirees are choosing to relocate to Malaysia because of its low cost of living. Housing, food, and entertainment are very affordable. One can have a high standard of living for a fraction of the cost of living back home.
As of 2022, the currency exchange for 1 US dollar = 4.5 Malaysian ringgit.
For the current exchange rate, check here.
As with most countries, the cost of living in the capital city is higher than in other cities in Malaysia. This is most noticeable in the price of buying and renting property. Also, as ex-pats expect a high standard of accommodation similar to that in the West, they are prepared to pay more. Still it costs 72% less to buy or rent in Kuala Lumpur than in the US.
The minimum monthly wage in Malaysia, as of May 2022, is RM 1500 or 333 US dollars. Therefore while Kuala Lumpur is affordable for foreigners, it has seen the locals move out to the more affordable suburbs.
Finding Real Estate in Kuala Lumpur
Generally, a three-bedroom apartment in the city center will cost around RM 4,500.
A three-bedroom apartment outside the city center will cost RM 2.500.
This will be a modern apartment with a swimming pool, gym, and intercom system.
General Living Costs in Kuala Lumpur
Even as the most expensive city in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is still very affordable for foreigners.
Food costs in supermarkets are much lower when compared to the USA and Canada. Fresh produce is well priced and high quality.
For a delicious cappuccino or latte in a top-rated coffee cafe such as Feeka Coffee Roasters, you will pay less than 2 US dollars.
An imported beer at a restaurant will cost you around 4.5 US dollars, while a local beer is cheaper.
An excellent website to see current prices for everything from rents to utilities to a loaf of bread, check out Numbeo. On this website you can compare Kuala Lumpur’s costs with your current city. This comparison will give you an idea of what to expect when you relocate.
As per Numbeo, a single person’s costs, excluding rent, are approximately 500 US dollars.
For a family of four, costs excluding rent are around 1800 US dollars.
Kuala Lumpur is 62.41% less expensive than New York, excluding rent. Rents in Kuala Lumpur are 87.85% less than in New York.
Use Numbeo to compare the costs in your home city with those of Kuala Lumpur.
Transportation Costs in Kuala Lumpur
Getting around the city is very inexpensive. As per 2022:
A monthly travel pass costs RM100, 22 US dollars
A one-way ticket on local transport costs RM 3
A taxi will cost RM 8-9 per mile
Gasoline is RM 8 per gallon
The cost of a small car like a Toyota Corolla 1.6 L will cost RM 131,000, 29,000 US dollars