An Expat’s Guide to the Cost Of Living in Kuala Lumpur

October 4, 2019

Kuala Lumpur is a city that welcomes expatriates from all over the world. It’s an eclectic city that’s a melting pot of different Asian cultures, as well as the old and new. KL is a warm city, and not just because of its climate. The people are friendly, and very accepting of those from other countries. This is because KL itself is home to Malaysians from different ethnicities and backgrounds.

KL is considered the world’s 83rd most affordable city out of about 230 cities surveyed, so it’s it the top one third of affordable places to live on this planet. In brief, here are some of the living expenses you can expect in KL:

1. Food and Drinks

Malaysians in general are huge foodies, and they love their street food. Local street food can be found in push carts, kopitiams or traditional coffee shops, mamaks and roadside stalls. Dishes include nasi lemak, nasi goreng, Hainanese chicken rice and mixed rice.

A regular meal at one of these joints will cost no more than RM10 ($2.40) with a beverage, usually tea, coffee, Milo or a soft drink.

A meal at a more upscale, air conditioned café or restaurant will cost about RM20 –RM50 ($4.80 – $12) per person, while fine dining establishments and hotels offer several course meals or buffets for RM120-RM180 ( $30 – $43).

Beer and liquor are not usually served at eateries as the country is largely a Muslim one. However, you can find them at bars, pubs and clubs in the capital. A bottle of beer costs about RM15-RM20 ($3.60 -$4.80) and a bottle of red wine costs an average of RM90 ($22).

2. Transportation

To buy a locally produced car, like a Proton or Perodua is relatively cheap. You’ll be able to get a brand new Perodua MyVi for about RM 42, 790 (~$ 10,202). Imported cars are more pricy, and a Volkswagen Polo will set you back RM75,730 (~$18,057).

Gas is pretty cheap since Malaysia is an oil producing company. The price of RON 95 is capped at RM2.08 ($0.50) per liter.

KL is connected via a system of trains, and you can buy a Touch N’ Go card at any station. Each card costs RM10 and you can reload any amount you want in multiples of RM10. On average, a trip anywhere in KL from point A to point B will never cost more than RM3 ($0.72) for a one way trip.

Ride sharing is available throughout the city, and all you have to do is download the apps. A 5km trips will cost about RM8-RM10 depending on the company.

3. Housing and Rent

The affordability of housing depends on which area you want to live in. Many expats choose to live in areas like Damansara, Mont Kiara, Bangsar and surrounding KLCC where the rental of a three-bedroom apartment can go up to RM15,000 ( $3576) per month and a medium sized room can cost about RM3000-RM5000 ( $715 – $1192).

However, if you choose to live outside the premium areas, and consider an apartment in Cheras, Petaling Jaya, Old Klang Road and the like, you’ll find more affordable rates. A three bedroom apartment can be yours for about RM1500-RM2000 ( $358 -$474) per month while a medium sized room will cost about RM600-RM900 ($143-$214) per month.

You can start hunting for your room or apartment with us here at Roomz, by choosing your preferred location. There are thousands or trustable landlords to pick from, and you can even narrow down your choices by their price range.