Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur

Cost of Living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

One Month’s Spend for Travellers, Retirees and Nomads

Planning an extended stay in Kuala Lumpur? Wondering what the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur might be? One of Malaysia’s most fascinating cities has a lot to offer in the way of outstanding cultural experiences, great food and affordable living. Also, it’s a common destination for travelers, digital nomads and retirees.

When we decided to travel the world full-time, we set a monthly budget for ourselves of $2000 Canadian dollars (about $1,600 USD) per month. We know that it will vary depending on where we are in the world, but we plan to stick to it as best we can and hope it all evens out in the end.

All figures below will be in US dollars. All costs are for both of us combined as a couple, not per person.

Let’s see how our cost of living compared to our budget:

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Cost of Living in Kuala Lumpur – Accommodations

We spent four weeks in Kuala Lumpur at this AirBnb and it was an amazing stay. Located in the Bukit Bintang area of KL, we really couldn’t have asked for anything more. Extremely clean and comfortable unit with more than enough supplies to make a months long stay comfortable. The Host was spectacular in every regard with great recommendations for things to do and eat.

The people of Malaysia are some of the friendliest you will meet anywhere in the world. And Malaysia in general can be considered a cultural tapestry with Malay, Chinese, Indian and European influences shown throughout their food, architecture and traditions. Kuala Lumpur highlights all of these features to the extreme.

The Bukit Bintang area of the city is going to be one of the more densely populated areas with a lot of tourists and expats. High end shopping malls and tourist attractions can be found all over this area of the city. And a short walk and you are at the iconic Petronas Towers.

Our unit in Kuala Lumpur was outstanding. Large open floor plan with a private bedroom and laundry room. Blazing fast internet and may be the best shower pressure I have had since leaving Canada. I can’t begin to say enough good things about this unit.

If you’re interested in checking out the unit you can find it here: CozyHome13a@Goldhill

If you would like to see the video version of this Cost of Living you can check it our here: Kuala Lumpur Cost of Living

Total cost for accommodation for the month: $954

Looking for short term accommodations? Check these great deals:

  • Luxury Accommodations: – Imperial Lexis Kuala Lumpur – Attractively located in the centre of Kuala Lumpur. This 5-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk and a concierge service.
  • Mid-Range Accommodations: – Axon Residence By Leo Suites – Boasting a patio with city views, a rooftop pool and an indoor pool, Axon Residence By Leo Suites can be found in Kuala Lumpur, close to Starhill Gallery and 300 metres from Pavilion Kuala Lumpur
  • Budget Accommodations: – Opus Residence by Great Service – Set in Kuala Lumpur, 1.6 km from Berjaya Times Square, Opus Residence by Great Service offers accommodation with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a fitness centre and a garden

Or check here for the latest deals on Booking.com

Check out our Ipoh, Malaysia Cost of Living Here

Cost of Living in Kuala Lumpur – Activities

We took part in two different tours while we were in Kuala Lumpur. The first Tour was a sightseeing tour with some food thrown in for good measure. Our Guide Mike was a superstar in every regard. Taking us to the Petronas Towers, Batu Caves, gorgeous temples and historical Mosques. Mike has since moved on from being a tour guide but you can watch our day out with him here. Kuala Lumpur Reaction!

The Second Tour we went on was with a company we have worked in a few cities with. A Chef’s Tour was started in Bangkok by Chef’s that were tired of the same boring food tours found all over the world. So they curated tours they themselves would want to go on that didn’t pander to the western palate. They now operate in numerous cities around the world. Our guide Siddohz was outstanding as he toured us around Chow Kit and Kampung Baru trying countless eats.

Costs for this include tips for both guides

Total Cost for Activities for the month: $152

Check out our video with A Chef’s Tour:

Cost of Living in Kuala Lumpur – Dining and Restaurants.

Before arriving in Malaysia, I can’t say that either of us knew much more than basics about Malaysian food but man once we arrived. The flavours of this amazing country took over and sky rocketed their cuisine into my top 5 favourite foods in the world

The biggest bonus is that food is extremely inexpensive in Malaysia with Kuala Lumpur probably being the most expensive location. It was still super cheap here!

Our prices here include a few Grab deliveries and dining out. Prices can range anywhere from $2 a meal for local food and up significantly if you’re looking for western style food.

If you’re looking for food options or cooking classes in Koh Samui check out some the most highly rated ones here:

  • Sambal Streets – This is the tour Angela and I did with A Chef’s tour in Chow Kit and Kampung Baru
  • Laksa Lanes – Those in the know head down to KL’s Chinatown for the best street eats in town
  • Cooler Lumper By Night – Zip around Kuala Lumpur at night on a Vespa scooter without the risk of getting lost when you join a guided small-group tour. 

Total Cost for Dining out for One Month: $197

Groceries

This month we went by one of the larger supermarkets a handful of times to pick little items to have around the house while we worked. We quickly realized that while dining out can be very affordable, buying groceries to cook at home was not.

Our costs here includes basic food items, water and toiletries

Total Cost for Groceries for the Month: $262

Cell Phones

We once again opted for a single sim card when we arrived in Malaysia and I would use Angela’s phone as a hot spot when I needed data. Both the wifi in our Airbnb and the data on the one sim card was blazing fast.

We picked up the sim card when landed in Kuala Lumpur at the airport and a 30 day plan for unlimited data was extremely cheap

Total Cost for Phone and Data for one Month: $13

Transportation

I didn’t crash any motor bikes here, which is a great thing. But in all seriousness, everything here is Grab rides. Super cheap and always available in Kuala Lumpur. Even showing up at 4:00 am so we could go eat and film at this insanely delicious hotspot in the Happy Garden area of Kuala Lumpur . Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia STREET FOOD MASTER Ken Ong makes Crispy Pork Belly & Char Siu

Total cost for Transportation for One Month: $54

Visas

American and Canadian Citizens are allowed to be in country for 90 days at a time Visa Free

Total Cost for Visa for one month: $0

Miscellaneous Expenses

This category covers pretty much everything that’s not included above. We choose to include alcohol in miscellaneous, because we do enjoy a beer or a bottle of wine from time to time while hanging around the Airbnb. You might not drink and if you are planning a budget you can easily omit this cost. For us, alcohol makes up about 60% of this category. This month it also included a haircut for me, some clothes for Angela and Angela found a highly rated Dentist next door to our building so she got her teeth cleaned.

Full disclosure, probably a huge chunk of this Miscellaneous budget went towards 6 bottles of wine. We hadn’t had wine since leaving Europe and decided to go for it a few nights. Needless to say, wine is not cheap in SE Asia.

Total Miscellaneous Costs for one month: $255

One thing we can’t live without while on the road full time – Saves us lots of money too!

Totals

Total Cost of Living for One Month in Kuala Lumpur

Looking at the table above, you can see that we were well over budget. $1887 USD works out to a little over $2,571 CAD. I’m not stressed about this though as I fell in love with Malaysian food and the city of Kuala Lumpur. And It feels great to confirm what we always expected – living abroad can be much cheaper than in your home country. These numbers were about 1/3 of what our typical expenses would have been in Canada for one month.

Have you lived in Kuala Lumpur for any length of time? Were your numbers similar to our cost of living for one month in Koh Lumpur? Do you have any other tips for potential travelers? Leave a comment and let us know. We would love to hear from you.

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