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Cost of Living in Malaysia in 2024

Updated on 29 January, 2024

Neha Uppal

Neha Uppal

Sr. Content editor

Malaysia is a popular study destination for international students due to its affordable cost of living. It ranks 142th in the list of most expensive countries (192) to live in worldwide. Compared to other countries in the region, such as Singapore (USD 2169) or Japan (USD 1370), the monthly cost of living in Malaysia (USD 652) is relatively low. This makes it an attractive option for students who want to study abroad but are on a budget. However, the cost of living can vary depending on the location, lifestyle, and accommodation choices of the student. 

In this article, we will explore the cost of living in Malaysia for international students and provide some tips on how to budget effectively.

List of Necessary Items With Their Latest Prices

Before settling in, you’ll need essentials such as clothing, shoes, toiletries, personal care products and bedding. Additionally, here’s a list of essential items with their estimated costs:

  • Milk (1L): MYR 7.06
  • White bread: MYR 3.57
  • Eggs: MYR 6.83
  • Water (1.5L): MYR 2.45
  • Banana (1 kg): MYR 5.38
  • Onion (1kg): MYR 4.26
  • Chicken (1 kg): MYR 18.1

Monthly Expenses in Malaysia

It is crucial to consider your cost of living in Malaysia per month to maintain a good quality of life. Your budget should account for accommodation, travel, food, utilities, and other expenses.

Without rent, the personal monthly expenses for a single individual are between MYR 100 - MYR 200. The estimated monthly cost of living in Malaysia for international students is MYR 1,500 or MYR 18,000 annually.

Average Cost of Living in Malaysia for International Students

The average cost of living in Malaysia for Indian students can vary depending on your lifestyle and location.

International students can lower their living expenses in Malaysia by applying for one of the many scholarships available, most provided by the government and some by particular institutions. 

International students may also be eligible for the Malaysian International Scholarship or the Malaysian Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowship Plan if they satisfy the requirements. The majority of these scholarships provide travel and lodging fees inside Malaysia.

Average Rent in Malaysia

Here is an estimate of the average rent in some of the major cities in Malaysia:                                      

Kuala Lumpur     

MYR 2192


MYR 2,057.06

Johor Bahru      

MYR 2,256.25

On-campus (depending on the university)  

MYR 318 - MYR 1250

Study Costs and University Tuition Fee

Malaysia is recognized for both its high-quality instruction and low tuition costs. Tuition fees vary depending on the university and program you choose. On average, international students can expect to pay the following per year:

  • Undergraduate course (public universities): MYR 54014 - MYR 733773 
  • Postgraduate (public universities): MYR 34331 - MYR 47297
  • Undergraduate course (private universities): MYR 25176 - MYR 32042
  • Postgraduate (private universities): MYR 27000- MYR 35,678.37

Other costs, such as visa fees and study materials, should be considered in addition to tuition.

  • Visa: MYR 1,060 (one-time payment)
  • Study material (textbooks, writing material, etc.): MYR 50 - MYR 100 per semester.

Transportation Costs in Malaysia

In Malaysia, public transportation is convenient and reasonably priced. The average cost of a one-way trip is about MYR 3 in local transport, and the regular price for a monthly pass is MYR 80. If you need a cab, the first cost will be around MYR 5, and the cost per kilometer will be roughly MYR 3.

Additionally, institutions in Malaysia frequently offer free bus trips to overseas students so they may see significant metropolitan sites. 

Cost of Utilities and Bills in Malaysia

Here’s a list of estimated monthly costs for utilities:

  • Electricity, water, etc.: MYR 144.03 - MYR 216.05
  • Internet: MYR 127.38 - MYR 128.73
  • Mobile plan: MYR 0.09 - MYR 0.54

Living Costs in Malaysia for International Students

You must budget wisely to ensure a stress-free stay. In addition to rent, study costs, transportation and utilities, here are a few other expenses you will bear. 

  • Food and entertainment: Three meals a day can cost between MYR154, depending on the food you choose.
  • Healthcare: MYR 45 - MYR 900 (depending on the condition). Here’s a breakdown: consultation is MYR 45, X-ray is MYR 22.5 - MYR 135, blood test is MYR 90, and ward charges are MYR 180.
  • Gym: MYR 140.88

Affordable Cities to Live in Malaysia

Listed below are a few cities that offer a fair compromise between quality of life and cost of living:

  • Alor Setar
  • Ipoh
  • Johor Bahru
  • Melaka City
  • Kuching
  • George Town
  • Kota Bahru

Useful Tips to Save Money in Malaysia

Many international students want to save money while studying abroad. The following are some helpful tips for controlling your expenses and managing your budget:

  • Share accommodation to split the rent.
  • Cook at home.
  • Use college-provided transport.
  • Buy second-hand textbooks and study materials.
  • Use student discounts (always carry your ID card).
  • Explore free or low-cost activities around the city.
  • Cinemas provide movie tickets for half price on selected days.
  • Get a part-time job to make some extra money. 


In conclusion, the cost of living in Malaysia in 2024 continues to offer an appealing balance for both locals and expatriates, combining affordability with a high quality of life. While major cities like Kuala Lumpur might present higher living costs, Malaysia, in general, remains comparatively affordable, especially in terms of housing, food, and public transportation. For those considering relocation or study in Malaysia, it's essential to consider regional cost variations and lifestyle choices. The country's diverse cultural landscape, coupled with its natural beauty and economic stability, makes it an attractive destination for those seeking a cost-effective yet enriching living experience. As Malaysia progresses, it retains its position as a place where one can enjoy a comfortable lifestyle without the high expenses often associated with other destinations in the region.




Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to study in Malaysia for international students?

The cost of studying in Malaysia for international students varies depending on the university and program. On average, undergraduate programs range from MYR 54014 - MYR 733773 per year, while postgraduate programs range from MYR 34331 - MYR 47297 per year.

Is it hard to get a job in Malaysia?

Since Malaysian citizens are given preference when hiring, finding a job in Malaysia might take a lot of work for international students. Therefore, to legally work in Malaysia, international students must apply for a job and accept it to get an Employment Pass. 

International graduates from Malaysian institutions may remain and work there if they have an employer prepared to sponsor their work visa. However, their student visa will not be extended, and they will be forced to leave Malaysia if they cannot get a job after graduating.

Neha Uppal

Sr. Content editor

Neha Uppal is a passionate content creator and editor. She carries 7.5+ years of experience working with leading edutech companies where she worked as a Faculty, Community Manager, and Content Marketeer. At upGrad, she is helping out people keep informed about the scopes and opportunities of studying abroad via informational articles/blogs.

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