KL Residents Need About RM3.3k for Monthly Expenses, Research Says

Lenna Lim Sok Yin, Isabelle Romualdez

The world knows that Kuala Lumpur is a popular Southeast Asian city explored by tourists thanks to its luscious green landscapes and delicious, inexpensive food. Many people longing for the city’s landscape go for its diverse job opportunities to improve their livelihood. However, do people really know what the quality of life is like in this capital city? What is it really like to be a working local in Kuala Lumpur?

iPrice Group gathered the estimated monthly cost of living in six of Southeast Asia’s popular cities on Numbeo, one of the world’s largest cost of living databases. Based on this research, living in Kuala Lumpur can be quite a lovely walk in the park, literally and monetarily.

Kuala Lumpur has the lowest rent prices among the six busiest cities, while Singapore is the highest.
We all know that Singapore is way ahead of its Southeast Asian peers, so it’s quite surprising that the nearest neighbour of the Lion City has the lowest rent prices in the region.

The price of a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of Singapore is RM6,200, which is 81% higher than Kuala Lumpur’s. According to the database, the cost of a single bedroom apartment in the city center is at least about RM1,200 in Kuala Lumpur, and about RM700 outside the city center.

Does Kuala Lumpur also have the cheapest cost of living?
Again, as expected, there is a wide gap between developed nation, Singapore, and its Southeast Asian neighbours. The cost of living in Singapore is at least 132% higher than the others. Shockingly, however, Bangkok and Manila are placed at the top 3 as well.

Bangkok has an estimated monthly cost of living of RM4,387 for a single person. This takes into account every necessity (rent, food, transportation, utilities, etc.). Manila is not that further down, with an estimated monthly cost of RM4,325 for a single person, which is only 1% lower than the former. Without rent, the total cost of living still reaches about RM2,448/month in Manila.

The data gathered revealed that the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur is the cheapest among its Southeast Asian peers, with an estimate of RM3,262 a month for a single person. Nonetheless, this number is a far difference from Malaysia’s minimum wage of RM1,200 in major towns, which almost 63% higher than the legal minimum salary per month.

However, it is worth to mention that Kuala Lumpur ranked to have the 2nd highest monthly average net salary on Numbeo. Kuala Lumpur residents are estimated to earn a net salary of RM4,259, right behind Singapore residents, who are estimated to earn RM10,195 a month. Hence, the quality of life in Kuala Lumpur is relatively better, especially after comparing it to other SEA cities, such as Manila residents, who are only estimated to earn RM1,609. Moreover, Manila residents’ cost of living even tops the others by 33% (Kuala Lumpur), 28% (Vietnam), and 24% (Jakarta).

This leaves us wondering how comfortable people residing in Kuala Lumpur really are compared to other cities' residents with lower salaries like in Bangkok (RM3,449), Ho Chi Minh (RM1,990) and Jakarta (RM1,955). Residents in these countries have to pay higher monthly costs with lower salaries. That said, KL residents must have a better quality of life compared to most of its Southeast Asian neighbors since they pay for the cheapest cost of living with a higher estimated monthly salary. Out of the six popular cities, it surely can be one of the best cities to live in.


Data on the estimated average monthly cost of living for a single person was taken from www.numbeo.com on April 20, 2021. The lowest rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in the city center was added to the overall monthly cost of living. Numbeo gathers data from user inputs (from over 500,000 contributors) and manually collects data from authoritative sources. Data is updated twice a year. Numbeo filters data in each country by using heuristic technology and periodically removes statistically inaccurate data. XE Currency’s conversion rates were used to convert the figures.

About iPrice Group

iPrice Group is a meta-search website operating in seven countries across Southeast Asia namely; Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Vietnam, and Hong Kong. Currently, iPrice compares and catalogues more than 5 billion and receives about 20-30 million monthly visits across the region. iPrice currently operates three business lines: price comparison for electronics and health & beauty; product discovery for fashion and home & living; and coupons across all verticals.

**Kindly email to lim.sok.yin@ipricegroup.com if you have any requests/thoughts/feedback on our content.

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