Malaysia Budget

Malaysia Budget

George Town is the capital of tropical-island Penang, located just west of mainland Malaysia, and offers one of the best overseas retirement opportunities in the world. This is a safe and reasonably-priced little island with excellent medical care, an interesting and eclectic community from around the world that communicates largely in English, and diverse lifestyle, entertainment and recreational options.

Retired here, you could while away the hours wandering around historic George Town, kick back at the beach, explore stunning mountains and waterfalls, shop ’til you drop, or partake in some of the world’s finest and most affordable cuisine.

As its nicknames (“Pearl of the Orient,” “Garden of the East,” and “Island of Pearls”) suggest, Penang Island is an exceptionally beautiful location, and with a population of just 740,000, the city is small enough that it’s easy to make friends and meet your neighbors.

Penang is a paradise for food lovers. In 2014 Lonely Planet named Penang the top food destination in the world. In a country that is so passionate about food that the common greeting is “Have you eaten yet?” Penang stands out for the quality, the diversity and the low cost of dining options it offers.

ECA International rated George Town as being the most livable city in Malaysia. We agree (and so do our taste buds!). In our opinion, Penang is one of the top spots in all of Southeast Asia for long-term living and retirement.

One of the many charms of George Town is the feeling it gives you of stepping back in time. Even beyond the city’s UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site heart, this city is a cornucopia of Chinese shop houses, pagodas, temples, churches, mosques, British-colonial buildings and landscaped parks. Wholesalers, import and export businesses, and shipping companies dominate the southern section of Beach Street, as they have since the 1880s, and the docks of Weld Quay, which was established more than 120 years ago, are little changed today. Impressive British-colonial buildings serve the same functions as they did more than a century ago, while many of the dilapidated Chinese shop houses have been scrubbed, painted, and renovated into attractive hotels, community centers, cafes, galleries and private homes.

In George Town, you’d never run out of things to do, from outdoor fun and historical exploration to dining adventures, nightlife, or an evening at the symphony. Art is everywhere in the old city. The Penang Philharmonic and the ProArt Chinese Orchestra both have venues in town. The Actors Studio at Straits Quay offers theater performances, as does the Performing Arts Centre of Penang, and there are special cultural events (Chinese opera and puppetry performances, for example) and impromptu concerts around town regularly.

Cost Of Living In George Town, Malaysia

In George Town you would need to invest in your own transportation. You can get by in most areas of Penang using buses and taxis, but this is really only a temporary strategy, so potential retirees need to allow for the cost.

While you’ll find many fine restaurants in George Town, the real food scene is in the little cafes, open air restaurants and hawker stalls. This is where chefs prepare regional Chinese, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Malay, Indonesian, Indian, Nyonya, Teochew and Thai cuisines, all manner of seafood, as well as Western-style dishes, using recipes that have been perfected over generations. Prices are something to rave about, too. Unless you’re eating in an upscale restaurant, you can eat well for about US$3 per person.

Malaysia does not have doctorate-level medical schools of its own, so all physicians practicing in the country have acquired at least part of their education overseas. Hospitals employ medical personnel trained in Europe, Australia, the United States and Canada. As a result, even in a small, neighborhood “klinik,” it is likely that your doctor will speak fluent English, and the best part? A consultation will cost around US$4.50 to US$6 at current exchange rates.

Rent, too, can be super affordable in this city, especially when compared with Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. At the low end, you could rent a small furnished apartment for less than USUS$300 per month. Expect to pay from US$600 to US$750 per month for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in an older building. In a newer and higher-end building, you could spend around US$800 per month for a unit with a view of the sea. George Town is also a place where you could rent what would qualify as a luxury-level place to live. A large villa with an ocean view fetches rent of US$3,000 per month, which is not cheap but a bargain on a global scale considering the standard and quality of what you’d be getting.

Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In George Town, Malaysia

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Rent RM 1,820
Gas RM 18 Used for cooking.
Electricity RM 291 Air conditioning used most days and at night.
Water RM 18
Telephone RM 36 Basic landline service.
Internet RM 73 Broadband dial-up starts at about RM 30 per month.
Cable TV RM 91
Groceries RM 819
Entertainment RM 728
Total RM 3,894

 

Ipoh, Malaysia

Ipoh (pronounced "ee-poe") is located on the banks of the Kinta River at the confluence of the smaller Sungai Pinji and Sungai Pari rivers. The Kinta River Valley is surrounded on three sides by picturesque limestone cliffs and hills, granite mountains, and dense, tropical jungle. The Kledang Mountains stretch from north of the city toward the east as the land gradually rises to the lofty altitudes of the central highlands. There are caves, natural lakes, and wild rivers within an hour's drive of Ipoh, making this one of Malaysia's best locales for trekking, spelunking, and white-water rafting.

With one of the most convenient locations in all Malaysia, Ipoh is just a two-hour drive along the controlled-access North-South Expressway to the UNESCO World Heritage city of George Town or south to Malaysia's capital, Kuala Lumpur. A 90-minute drive takes you west to Lumut, the gateway to the beach resorts of Pangkor Island, or east to Malaysia's central mountains, the town of Tanah Rata and the Cameron Highlands.

Ipoh is a popular retirement haven for Malaysians, who claim that its fresh air, clean water, and relaxing lifestyle not only improves their quality of life but also promotes longevity and health. Known as “The City Built on Tin,” “The City of Millionaires,” and “The City of Bougainvillea,” Ipoh also offers many incentives to westerners interested in relocation.

In Ipoh you can expect to find First World health care, modern infrastructure, ample opportunity to mingle with friendly, English-speaking locals, and an attractive and flexible visa program. Enjoy the history of Britain’s colonial heyday, wander the maze of narrow streets and alleyways in the city’s Chinatown, or head to one of several modern malls to enjoy a first-run Hollywood movie and shop at the wide variety of local and multinational stores.

Cost Of Living In Ipoh, Malaysia

Perhaps the best part of living in pretty Ipoh is that you can enjoy everything Malaysia's fourth-largest city has to offer even on a very modest budget. A retired couple could live comfortably here on less than US$1,000 per month.

In fact Ipoh boasts one of the lowest costs of living to be found in a Malaysian city. Whether you prefer relaxing days at a country club, testing your limits with rugged outdoor adventure, or socializing with friends over a leisurely dim sumbreakfast, you can live a five-star lifestyle on a three-star budget in affordable, Ipoh. Its expansive suburbs offer quiet and comfort for all budgets and lifestyles.

One important reason the cost of living is as affordable as it is in Ipoh is the cost of renting here. You can rent a comfortable two-bedroom place for as little as US$200 or US$250 per month.

Further, a property agent's fees are paid by the property owner when a buyer or renter is secured, so using one comes at no cost to you. It also means that most agents are motivated to find properties that satisfy your requirements. It is to their advantage to find you a place that you like.

Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In Ipoh, Malaysia

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Rent RM 600
Gas RM 15 Used for cooking.
Electricity RM 300 Air conditioning used most days and at night.
Water N/A Included with electricity.
Telephone RM 75 Basic landline service.
Internet RM 69 Broadband dial-up starts at about RM 30 per month.
Cable TV RM 120
Groceries RM 750
Entertainment RM 600
Total RM 2,529

 

Johor Bahru, Malaysia

From its location at the southernmost tip of the Malay Peninsula, Johor Bahru is little more than a stone’s throw north to Singapore. Living in Johor Bahru is a practical way to enjoy all that Singapore has to offer without breaking the bank. Connected by rail and road, the two cities share a dependent economy.

 Foreigners living in Johor Bahru can take advantage of both worlds, enjoying the low Malaysian cost of living and the rich cultural diversions of Singapore, just as Singapore shoppers flock to Johor Bahru to take advantage of and more than half of Johor Bahru’s men and women head to workplaces in Singapore every day, taking advantage of the higher wages.

Younger expats will find that Johor Bahru offers a great deal, as well, especially those who have children. Good international schools, plenty of playgrounds, and a proliferation of theme parks make family life good here. People living here are among the friendliest in the world, too—another reason to consider Johor Bahru for your new home.

Malaysia has a stable economy and a democratic government. It is considered one of the most foreigner-friendly countries in the world, in fact foreigners are encouraged to move here, and the local people are genuinely friendly and welcoming.

Cost Of Living In Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Johor Bahru offers a high quality of life and a developed infrastructure. Overall, the cost of living is comparable to that in Kuala Lumpur, meaning it is slightly higher than elsewhere in Malaysia but still very affordable for retirees with a moderate income.

The huge, ecologically friendly Iskandar Malaysia development has attracted a lot of money and attention, which has translated to a corresponding rise in the value of housing and land. The project is still in the early stages, and an investment in property in Johor Bahru's growing suburbs might be timely.

Due to the climate, which is warm and humid year-round, there is a huge variety of fruits and vegetables grown locally. Expats who make the effort to shop in local markets will make significant savings on their grocery bill. Eating out can be as economical as staying home in Johor Bahru, with a wide range of fresh and healthy dishes available for just a few dollars.

Johor Bahru is also a Malaysian manufacturing hub, meaning goods such as furniture, clothing and electronics can be picked up for a bargain price.

Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Rent RM 2,000
Gas RM 15 Used for cooking.
Electricity RM 400 Air conditioning used most days and at night.
Water N/A Included with electricity.
Telephone RM 75 Prepaid cellphone, 60-minute overseas call per month plus local calls.
Internet RM 69 Unlimited access.
Cable TV RM 125
Groceries RM 750
Entertainment RM 600
Total RM 4,034

Kuala Lumpur

The capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is a bustling, modern metropolis with a population of more than 7 million. It's also one of the world's most affordable, exotic, and, at the same time, fully appointed and comfortable places to retire.
As the central hub for business, government, and commerce in Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur is also an attractive area for investment.

In Kuala Lumpur modern, air-conditioned malls flourish, selling everything from beautifully handcrafted batik clothing to genuine Rolex watches and Tiffany jewelry. The shining stainless steel Petronas Towers, two of the tallest skyscrapers in the world, anchor a startlingly beautiful skyline that is unique to this city.

In the shadows of these ultra-modern buildings, the ancient Malay village of Kampung Baru thrives, with free-roaming roosters and a slow pace of life typical of the country's most rural of villages. Less than a 20-minute walk from the city center, you can find yourself conversing with monkeys in the city-jungle surrounding one of the highest telecommunications towers in the world. A walk of less than 30 minutes leads you to Chinatown and Little India, where merchants offer their wares, foods, and culture in happy neighborhoods that showcase the amazing diversity of the city.

Unlike so many places in Asia, foreigners are genuinely welcomed in Kuala Lumpur. Language isn't a problem--almost everyone speaks adequate English. It is taught in the schools and is the primary spoken language for many Malaysians.

Life is different here than in the West. When you go to your neighborhood shop, take your time and converse with the owner, ask about his family as he asks you about yours. By your second or third visit, you'll be recognized and waved to when you enter. You may even be invited to dinner, or at least to share a cup of delicious kopior the tarik.

Cost Of Living In Kuala Lumpur

Kuala Lumpur, the heart of the Malaysian Peninsula, is a city of contrasts. It’s one of the world's most exotic, and, at the same time, fully appointed and comfortable places to retire. Unsurprisingly the capital is the most expensive place in Malaysia to make a home, yet Kuala Lumpur still qualifies as one of the best places in the world to live well—what can qualify as a luxury lifestyle—on even a modest budget (of 5,402 Malaysian ringgit per month.)

One of the highlights of life in Malaysia is the variety and quality of affordable cuisine. Eating street food in Malaysia makes for a cheap and delicious night out—even restaurant meals will seldom cost more than US$15.

With a host of low-cost airlines flying into KLIA airport Malaysia is an economical choice for expats with a passion for travel. Locally, the public transport system, which comprises trains and light rail, is a very efficient and inexpensive way to get around.

Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Rent RM 2,389
Gas RM 35 Used for cooking.
Electricity RM 342 Air conditioning used most days and at night.
Water RM 35
Telephone RM 86 Prepaid cellphone, 60-minute overseas call per month plus local calls.
Internet RM 120 Unlimited access.
Cable TV RM 136
Groceries RM 987
Entertainment RM 1,025
Total RM 5,155

 

Kuching

The capital of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, Kuching is located just inland of the northwest coast of the island of Borneo, along the banks of the Sarawak River estuary. Its surroundings offer unlimited opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts.

Its proximity to the South China Sea and incredibly diverse rain forest ecosystems provide plenty of activities to keep residents busy year-round, yet Kuching is also a cosmopolitan city offering all the comforts of the developed world. 

The fourth-largest city in Malaysia, Kuching has a population of just over a half-million. The name “Kuching” means “cat” in Malay, and Kuching is a great place for cat lovers. Statues of cats adorn sidewalks, traffic circles, and parks. Kuching city is modern and attractive, with a large Chinatown and a pretty riverside promenade. Central Kuching is small enough to explore on foot and public transportation is available for trips to the suburbs and outlying areas.

Kuching is also home to some of Malaysia's best museums, devoted to anything from natural history, ethnology, Chinese history, natural sciences, and Islam. There is a fascinating cultural village and, of course, a delightful cat museum. Kuching is near to many of Sarawak's 16 national parks, as well as gorgeous and remote beaches along the South China Sea.

As elsewhere in Malaysia, the food in Kuching is as diverse as the people. Many restaurants offer excellent Chinese, Malay, and Indian menus, as well as western food. Seafood lovers will be delighted at the abundant and inexpensive supply of ocean and freshwater fish and shrimp. Local specialties are unique and delicious. Try wild jungle ferns stir-fried with garlic. The taste is a cross between young asparagus and mild spinach, addictive to discerning palates. Kek lapis Sarawak is a popular and delicious cake served in traditional Malay celebrations. These are beautiful pound cakes that are delicately layered in artistic patterns and motifs almost (but not quite) too pretty to eat.

The ethnic diversity that typifies all of Malaysia might be more apparent here than anywhere else in the country. Twenty-seven different ethnic groups, many of them indigenous to the region, live in and around Kuching. The most populous groups in Sarawak, however, are the Chinese, the Malays, and the indigenous Iban. With so many ethnic groups, each having its own language, English has become the bridge language.

Kuching may be the perfect off-the-beaten-track retirement destination…

Cost Of Living In Kuching

The cost of living is very low, less than US$600 a month for a home-owning couple. Prices in Kuching are inexpensive, even when compared with other Malaysian destinations, such as Kuala Lumpur and Johor Bahru.

Hospitals are well-equipped and modern, and most medical personnel speak fluent English. In addition, health care costs are extremely low, and the quality of care is excellent. Health care is of such a high standard and so reasonably priced that Malaysia is one of the world’s top medical tourism destinations. Retirees from the U.S will find also find medical insurance extremely inexpensive.

Getting to and from Kuching is easy. Air Asia, the region's fantastic budget carrier, offers frequent promotional pricing from its hub in Kuala Lumpur, and it's easy to find a flight for a bargain price.

Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In Kuching, Malaysia

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Rent RM 2,178
Gas RM 78 Used for cooking.
Electricity RM 311 Air conditioning used most days and at night.
Water RM 31
Telephone RM 87 Prepaid cellphone, 60-minute overseas call per month plus local calls.
Internet RM 124 Unlimited access.
Cable TV RM 109
Groceries RM 31
Entertainment RM 933
Total RM 3,882

 

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Malaysia Budget

George Town is the capital of tropical-island Penang, located just west of mainland Malaysia, and offers one of the best overseas retirement opportunities in the world. This is a safe and reasonably-priced little island with excellent medical care, an interesting and eclectic community from around the world that communicates largely in English, and diverse lifestyle, entertainment and recreational options.

Retired here, you could while away the hours wandering around historic George Town, kick back at the beach, explore stunning mountains and waterfalls, shop ’til you drop, or partake in some of the world’s finest and most affordable cuisine.

As its nicknames (“Pearl of the Orient,” “Garden of the East,” and “Island of Pearls”) suggest, Penang Island is an exceptionally beautiful location, and with a population of just 740,000, the city is small enough that it’s easy to make friends and meet your neighbors.

Penang is a paradise for food lovers. In 2014 Lonely Planet named Penang the top food destination in the world. In a country that is so passionate about food that the common greeting is “Have you eaten yet?” Penang stands out for the quality, the diversity and the low cost of dining options it offers.

ECA International rated George Town as being the most livable city in Malaysia. We agree (and so do our taste buds!). In our opinion, Penang is one of the top spots in all of Southeast Asia for long-term living and retirement.

One of the many charms of George Town is the feeling it gives you of stepping back in time. Even beyond the city’s UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site heart, this city is a cornucopia of Chinese shop houses, pagodas, temples, churches, mosques, British-colonial buildings and landscaped parks. Wholesalers, import and export businesses, and shipping companies dominate the southern section of Beach Street, as they have since the 1880s, and the docks of Weld Quay, which was established more than 120 years ago, are little changed today. Impressive British-colonial buildings serve the same functions as they did more than a century ago, while many of the dilapidated Chinese shop houses have been scrubbed, painted, and renovated into attractive hotels, community centers, cafes, galleries and private homes.

In George Town, you’d never run out of things to do, from outdoor fun and historical exploration to dining adventures, nightlife, or an evening at the symphony. Art is everywhere in the old city. The Penang Philharmonic and the ProArt Chinese Orchestra both have venues in town. The Actors Studio at Straits Quay offers theater performances, as does the Performing Arts Centre of Penang, and there are special cultural events (Chinese opera and puppetry performances, for example) and impromptu concerts around town regularly.

Cost Of Living In George Town, Malaysia

In George Town you would need to invest in your own transportation. You can get by in most areas of Penang using buses and taxis, but this is really only a temporary strategy, so potential retirees need to allow for the cost.

While you’ll find many fine restaurants in George Town, the real food scene is in the little cafes, open air restaurants and hawker stalls. This is where chefs prepare regional Chinese, Cantonese, Hokkien, Hakka, Malay, Indonesian, Indian, Nyonya, Teochew and Thai cuisines, all manner of seafood, as well as Western-style dishes, using recipes that have been perfected over generations. Prices are something to rave about, too. Unless you’re eating in an upscale restaurant, you can eat well for about US$3 per person.

Malaysia does not have doctorate-level medical schools of its own, so all physicians practicing in the country have acquired at least part of their education overseas. Hospitals employ medical personnel trained in Europe, Australia, the United States and Canada. As a result, even in a small, neighborhood “klinik,” it is likely that your doctor will speak fluent English, and the best part? A consultation will cost around US$4.50 to US$6 at current exchange rates.

Rent, too, can be super affordable in this city, especially when compared with Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur. At the low end, you could rent a small furnished apartment for less than USUS$300 per month. Expect to pay from US$600 to US$750 per month for a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment in an older building. In a newer and higher-end building, you could spend around US$800 per month for a unit with a view of the sea. George Town is also a place where you could rent what would qualify as a luxury-level place to live. A large villa with an ocean view fetches rent of US$3,000 per month, which is not cheap but a bargain on a global scale considering the standard and quality of what you’d be getting.

Monthly Budget For A Couple Living In George Town, Malaysia

Click here for currency conversion at today’s exchange rate.

Rent RM 1,820
Gas RM 18 Used for cooking.
Electricity RM 291 Air conditioning used most days and at night.
Water RM 18
Telephone RM 36 Basic landline service.
Internet RM 73 Broadband dial-up starts at about RM 30 per month.
Cable TV RM 91
Groceries RM 819
Entertainment RM 728
Total RM 3,894