When I told my friends back home that I am staying and working in Kuala Lumpur the common feedback I got were “It must be expensive!”, “You must earning a lot!” and questions like “How can you afford that?”.
Is it expensive?
No, it’s affordable.
Do I earn a lot? I wish, but no.
How can I afford it? Let me tell you how.
The distance from my place to work is around 8km and I drive to work everyday. I spend $11 and some change (50RM) for petrol weekly. If I take the toll, that’s $1 or 5RM per day, to and from work.
I rarely cook, so let’s say from Monday to Friday I eat out during lunch and dinner. In Malaysia, they have this food stall they called ‘Nasi Campur’ or mixed rice in English. The idea is that you take whatever type of food you want and pay the amount corresponding to it. Price varies from $1.50 – $3.50 (7RM – 15RM) depending if you took vegetables or meat. A restaurant meal varies from $3.50 – $7 (15RM – 30RM). I allot $23 (100RM) for grocery a week; this will cover my breakfast and household stuff. So depending on what or where I want to eat, I’d say per week for food and grocery will cost me more or less $70.
What about accommodation? It depends if you’re staying in a condominium alone or sharing, or landed property and pay per room. Tenants usually split the total rent depending on the room you’re taking, so expect to pay more than the tenant in the small room if you’re staying in the master’s. In most areas, expect to pay minimum $115 for a small room, $185 for middle room and $230 for the master’s bedroom with attached bathroom. If you’re lucky some rental includes payment for internet, water bill and electricity.
Fun and Entertainment
What about leisure? If you’re a movie buff you have 4 cinemas to choose from: TGV, GSC, MBO and Cathay Cineplex. I personally preferred TGV because you can enroll for a movie club card; your purchase is converted to points which you can use to book movie tickets as well. Not only that, if you’re watching a film before 12 noon then you only have to pay less than $2 (8RM). Normal price varies from $2 – $10, standard to premium to twin seat. If movie is not your kind of thing, there are tons of malls you can choose from to roam around. At night, wait and watch until the majestic Petronas Twin Towers open its light. Behind SURIA KLCC, where Petronas is located, there is a water dance performance at the man-made lake.
How Much it Costs to Live in Kuala Lumpur for a Month
There are tons of things you can do for free. In fact, I might be able to lower down my cost of living if I opt to cook everyday or if I had not been a movie fanatic. At the end of the day, it all depends on your lifestyle. It doesn’t cost a fortune to stay and enjoy a city like Kuala Lumpur–it is definitely doable and affordable to all expats!
Based on these numbers it could be as low as $500. That’s probably too low for the taste of most expats. However, $1200 would not be unreasonable, although if you’re looking for better accommodations in the city center it may be a bit higher.