Why Consider Moving to Malaysia

Malaysia is a top choice for many expats looking to move abroad. What makes Malaysia so appealing? There are several key reasons Malaysia stands out:

Diverse and Multicultural

Malaysia has an extremely diverse population with Malay, Chinese, Indian and large expat communities. This mix makes settling in and feeling at home much easier.

English-Widely Spoken

English is widely spoken across Malaysia, especially in major cities, further easing the transition.

Excellent Healthcare

Malaysia’s healthcare system is top-notch in Southeast Asia. Care quality meets high standards yet costs remain affordable.

Modern Infrastructure

Development has expanded modern infrastructure like roads, transit and amenities across Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur especially feels like a fully modern metropolis.

Travel Hub

Malaysia’s central Southeast Asia location makes exploring the region simple. Countries like Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore are just a short flight away.

Tropical Weather and Nature

From rainforests to mountains to tropical islands, Malaysia’s natural landscapes are incredibly diverse and appealing.

Delicious, Diverse Cuisine

Lastly, Malaysia’s mixture of Malay, Chinese and Indian cuisine creates limitless eating options that are mouthwateringly delicious.

Top Places to Live in Malaysia

Most expats live in Kuala Lumpur or Penang. Kuala Lumpur attracts expats working in vibrant corporate jobs. Penang offers a more relaxed island lifestyle. Other options are Ipoh, an up-and-coming city, the Langkawi island or Kuching in northern Borneo.

Breakdown of Living Costs in Malaysia

So what does it really cost each month to live comfortably in Malaysia? Here is a detailed breakdown:


Housing is most expats’ biggest expense. Prices vary greatly by location. Upscale, centrally-located 2-bedroom apartments in Kuala Lumpur run $4,000+ per month. But 3-bedroom places further out cost just $450. Beach apartments in Penang average around $375 per month. For our estimate, we’ll budget $600 for a nice apartment.

As a foreigner, you can buy property in Malaysia if it costs over 1 million RM. If not looking to buy, quality rentals are abundant.

Utility Costs

Expect $50-70 per month for electricity and gas depending on use. Internet plans from providers like Telekom Malaysia or Time start around $35 per month. Let’s total $150 per month for utilities and internet.

Groceries & Dining Out

Eating out at Malaysia’s ubiquitous food courts and street stalls runs just $2 per meal. For home cooking, supermarkets like Eon and Lotus offer good value while still having western imports. We budgeted a sample monthly grocery list at $272. Removing pricier imports, it dropped to $136.

If alternating dining out plus making local-focused shops, $720 per month should suffice for a family.


Kuala Lumpur has excellent public transit like buses, metro and rail. Monthly passes run under $100. Taxis and Grab services are abundant too. Owning a car is possible but can be complicated. Motorbikes are much easier for foreigners to purchase and register.


International schools are everywhere across Malaysia’s major cities. Fees range widely from $8,000 to $16,000 per year depending on curriculum. Quality local options like Penang’s Pelita International school cost just $5,000 annually. We budgeted $500 monthly for a good international school.


Malaysia offers a 1-year digital nomad visa for around $229 per person. Dependents are $114 each. So for a family of three, budget $572 upfront and $50 monthly.

Total Cost of Living in Malaysia

Adding it all up, here is a total monthly cost of living estimate for Malaysia for a family of three:

  • Housing: $600
  • Utilities: $150
  • Food & Dining: $720
  • Schooling: $500
  • Visas: $50

That brings the total monthly cost estimate to $2,020.

We purposely overestimated to account for surprises. Locals pay less than expats. Consider extras like insurance, travel and transport too. Budgeting $3,500 monthly allows ample savings and flexibility.

Malaysia offers an outstanding quality of life for expats at costs far lower than spots like Europe or the United States. With remote work and online businesses making earning abroad easier, Malaysia climbs higher on the most appealing places to live internationally.