International Cost of Living Calculators

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Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur

Cost of living in Kuala Lumpur, prices and what it is like to live for an Expat, quality of life / hardship, and compare cost of living for Expatriates as at October 2023.

What is it like to live in Kuala Lumpur?

Kuala Lumpur: Kuala Lumpur (KL) is the capital and largest city of Malaysia.

Economy: Kuala Lumpur is the cultural and economic centre of Malaysia.

Inflation: 2% for Malaysia as at August 2023.

Kuala Lumpur Population: 7.2 Million (2022 est.)

Expat Life: Malaysia is a multicultural society, however the Malays, who are Muslims, are the majority. A great deal of importance is placed on status in Malaysia. It is important for expatriates to dress and behave with discretion and to treat others with respect. It is important to use titles, such as ‘Datuk' or ‘Tan Sri' or the hereditary title 'Tengku' when addressing the holders of such titles. Expatriate dress code is typically a business suit for men and women, alternatively women may wear a skirt that covers the knees and a high-necked blouse. The safety risk for expatriates in Malaysia is low to medium. Risks include street crime, armed robbery, kidnapping, and the underlying threat of terrorism.

Health Care: Health care facilities are good, however the cost of private care treatment for expatriates can be high. Dengue fever is common. Some states are rabies infected.

For other areas within the country see Malaysia.

Cost Of Living

What is the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur?

The cost of living for expatriates in Kuala Lumpur as at October 2023 is low in comparison to other places in the world, with an overall Cost of Living Index (COLI), for all 13 basket groups, of 55.52 (New York =100). We have collected prices for the same items, world wide, based on Expat spending norms, in or closest to the location, and converted them to $USD so that we can compare the cost of 13 different baskets in 780 global locations. For each basket, compared to New York, the equivalent cost in Kuala Lumpur is as follows:

1) Alcohol and/or Tobacco: Cost is very high for items such as beer, spirits, wine and tobacco related products such as cigarettes. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$1130. Average price in a store for a midrange bottle of wine is USD$19.72, domestic/local beer (500ml) USD$4.23, imported/international beer (330ml) USD$4.24 and a pack of 20 cigarettes is USD$5.07.

2) Clothing: Cost is high for items such as business, casual and children's clothing and footwear. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$1020. Average price for an international brand of mens jeans is USD$48, a quality international brand of running shoes USD$64, mens leather shoes suitable for office wear USD$59 while a medium size international summer dress from a global chain store is USD$27.

3) Communication: Cost is low for various communication costs such as home telephone rental, internet subscription, mobile service provider tariff and data costs. A basket costing USD$200 in New York costs USD$94. Average price for a monthly standard plan internet subscription is USD$25, while the benchmark mobile tariff is USD$8.67 per minute.

4) Education: Cost is low for items such as creche / pre-school fees, primary school fees, high school fees and tertiary study fees. A basket costing USD$30,000 in New York costs USD$19200. Average annual private international school fee (excluding extras) USD$12,474 for Primary School, and USD$13,881 for High School.

5) Furniture & Appliances: Cost is average for items such as dining table and chairs, home entertainment, kitchen appliances, and sofas. A basket costing USD$2,500 in New York costs USD$1900. Average price for a 6kg front loader Washing Machine is USD$670, and USD$576 for a 46+'' LED UHD TV.

6) Groceries: Cost is average for items such as consumables, cleaning products, dairy, fresh fruit & vegetables, general food products, snacks, soft drinks. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$750. Average grocery prices in a major international retail store for 1 kg apples is USD$1.34, 1 kg oranges USD$1.39, 1 head lettuce USD$1.16, 1 kg potatos USD$0.46, 1 kg boneless, skinless, chicken breast USD$2.31, 1 kg cheddar cheese USD$6.45, 1 dozen large eggs USD$1.96, 500g loaf white bread USD$0.92, 1 L full cream milk USD$7.54, and 1.5 L water USD$0.69.

7) Healthcare: Cost is average for general heath care, doctor visits, hospital stays, non-prescription medicine, and medical insurance. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$620. Average healthcare cost for a private practice Doctor visit for an uninsured patient is USD$51, and a private hospital stay per day including nursing care, medications, diagnostic tests, food, and related costs is USD$1,555.

8) Household Accommodation: Cost is very low for items such as apartment rent, house rent, property purchase, mortgage rate, and utilities. A basket costing USD$5,000 in New York costs USD$1100. Average expatriate house / apartment rent for a secure upmarket unfurnished apartment (3 bedrooms) is USD$1,600 in a central location, and USD$919 in a suburban location, per month, excluding utilities.

9) Miscellaneous: Cost is average for items such as dry cleaning, linen, magazines, newspapers, office supplies, and postage stamps. A basket costing USD$500 in New York costs USD$355. Average price for dry cleaning (1 mens 2 pc suit) is USD$6.90, while an international newspaper is USD$2.12.

10) Personal Care: Cost is average for items such as cosmetics, hair care, and toiletries. A basket costing USD$500 in New York costs USD$340. Average cost for a mens haircut and blow dry is USD$27, while a womens hair colour, cut and blow dry - medium length is USD$135.

11) Recreation & Culture: Cost is average for items such as books, cinema, sport and theatre tickets. A basket costing USD$500 in New York costs USD$275. Average price for a latest release international cinema ticket (average of on and off peak where applicable) for one adult is USD$5.07, and an international fitness, recreation or sports club membership cost for one adult is USD$42 per month.

12) Restaurants Meals Out and Hotels: Cost is average for items such as hotel daily room rates, meals and beverages in a restaurant, and take away food and beverages. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$500. Average cappuccino price (regular, medium) is USD$3.24, coke/pepsi (330ml) USD$0.77, burger meal (international franchise or similar) USD$4.77, and a mid-range international restaurant meal for 2 USD$22.54.

13) Transport: Cost is average for items such as fuel (petrol/gasoline), car hire, public transport, vehicle purchase and maintenance. A basket costing USD$1,000 in New York costs USD$680. Average average price over the last year for highest available octane petrol / gasoline (1L) is USD$1.69, while the benchmark car sedan purchase price including taxes/duties for a compact / small / economy vehicle (1.4 L) is USD$34,673.

How does the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur compare?

Kuala Lumpur is 2.2% more expensive than Houston TX for groceries, -76.8% cheaper for household costs than London, and -7.8% cheaper for transport costs than Dubai.

What is the quality of life / hardship in Kuala Lumpur?

Kuala Lumpur is ranked as a some hardship location.The hardship premium for Kuala Lumpur for an expat from Perth, is for example 10%, i.e. host location (Kuala Lumpur) premium of 20% minus home (Perth) location premium of 10%.

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