By Lloyd Green
Good news! If you’re thinking of relocating to Malaysia — maybe to volunteer, work at an NGO, study, join a big company, intern or simply enjoy your gap year — now is the best time. According to the collated by , Malaysia is the 29th cheapest country to live.
Despite boasting one of Southeast Asia’s most vibrant economies, Malaysia is an incredibly affordable place to live, retaining a Consumer Price Index of just 37.47. Remarkably, this is lower than neighbouring Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia.
So, if you’ve just graduated, have the time to do something life changing, or are looking for that extra zest in life, why NOT come to Malaysia? We’ll tell where you get cheap food, eat out for less and rent a house for next to nothing?
What’s Cheap In Malaysia?
Johor Bahru is Malaysia’s cheapest city on the Cost of Living Index table with a CPI of 40.61. A one bedroom apartment here averages MYR1,325.00, while out of the city it drops to MYR833.33. JB also has the third least expensive McDonald’s combo meal in the world at MYR10, which is equal to $US2.50. In fact, Malaysia is one of the cheapest places in the world for eating out with Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu and Kuala Lumpur all polling in the Top 50 on the Restaurant Price Index list.
On average you can get a meal at an inexpensive restaurant for MYR8 or $US2. Coffee is also cheap averaging $US1 in most places. Do expect to pay more at fancy shopping malls and outlets like Starbucks.
Is KL Really That Expensive?
Kjersti Joergensen / Shutterstock.com
The cost of living in Kuala Lumpur is slightly higher compared to other Malaysia cities, but with a CPI of 44.48, it’s still 54 per cent cheaper than Singapore and has roughly the same CPI as neighbouring Asian capitals like Jakarta, Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City.
You will likely need at least $US400 to $US500 per month to cover all of your expenses in KL, with a room to rent as low as MYR800 ($US200) per month. This price can vary drastically depending on your location, with a one bedroom apartment in the city averaging MYR2400 per month, while out of the city the median drops to MYR1200.
Kota Kinabalu is the cheapest city in Malaysia for accommodation according to Numbeo, with its Rent Index at 7.63 (37th in the world), compared to JB at 12.24 and KL at 18.55.
The cost of transport in Kuala Lumpur is very competitive with a one-way ticket using the LRT or KTM less than $US1. If you commute every day, count on $25 per month for transportation.
Get Me Out Of The City
Transport between urban cities in Malaysia is also affordable, ranging between $5 and $15 for a bus ride, depending on the destination. A bus or train ride can take you to the green mountains of Cameron Highlands or the heritage listed cities of Georgetown, Malacca and Ipoh.
For Ipoh, catch the train as Ipoh Railway Station is located in the centre of town, whereas the coach terminal is some 15 minutes away. The tickets are MYR25 to MYR30 and you’ll only save five ringgit if you catch the bus.
The bus from KL to Penang is the best option as it takes you directly to the island and within five minutes of George Town. Tickets at MYR37 to MYR42.
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah
Staying Long Term
Most people can enter Malaysia on a Short Term Social Visit Pass, which can be obtained upon arrival at the airport. Normally, this visa is valid for three months, but the visa conditions vary depending on your nationality.
If you plan to volunteer in Malaysia for longer than three-months, you might wish to apply for a Professional Visit Pass (PVP). This must be requested by the NGO you intend to work for while you are still in your home country
If granted, this visa is valid for up to 12 months and can be renewed for another 12 months, but only after a three-month break in between.
Internet and mobile packages are also relatively inexpensive in Malaysia, with a minute of prepaid mobile averaging RM0.26 and 10 Mbps Internet with unlimited data priced at RM160.
So, whatever it is you decide to do in Malaysia, your time here be an exciting time in your life, and a great chance to stretch your own limits and discover your potential!
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