The Cost Of Living In Malaysia Is Higher Than Singapore

One of the topic that Mr Budget holds dearly in his heart is the debate between Malaysia vs Singapore. 

It is natural for Malaysian or Singaporean to compare between the two countries due to its proximity as well as its shared history. For Mr Budget, Malaysia is the hometown he grew up in, and Singapore is his current home now. 

Having lived more than 10 years in each country, here are some feelings I have towards the two countries.

Cost Of Living

One of the things that some Singaporeans regularly complaint about, is the high cost of living in Singapore.

Actually, the cost of living in Malaysia is a lot higher than Singapore, and that Malaysians have it harder. 

Here are some numbers:

Average Salary For Fresh GraduateRM2,500S$2,500
A bowl of Noodle for lunchRM8.00S$3.50
McChicken MealRM9.00S$5.00
Starbucks CoffeeRM10.00S$5.00
Milo PengRM2.50S$1.50
Back of envelope calculation

Assuming you stay with your parents and you just have to take care of your own meals and save money, your purchasing power in Singapore will be much higher than in Malaysia. At the end of the month, you are able to save way more in Singapore than in Malaysia.

 For Mr Budget, even though I am currently earning Singapore Dollars, when I head back to Malaysia and spend in Ringgit, I will still feel the pinch, and it is not like I can “spend like a king” in Kuala Lumpur.

Things Work In Singapore

Another thing which I think Singapore has an edge over Malaysia is that, it is generally safer in Singapore.

I think those that complain about Singapore really might have taken everything that works in Singapore for granted. 

The system just works in Singapore, there is reliable governmental service, there is a world class and affordable transport system, and any information that you need is readily available online at a click of a button. 

Even the healthcare system is digitised – you can arrange for an appointment using the HealthHub app, and you just need to show up at your appointed time and you can skip the queues.

In Malaysia, most probably you will have to head down to the government hospital, make your appointment there, and then come back another day for your appointment. 

So what can Malaysians do? 

One thing that I learnt from an acquaintance today over lunch is that, everyone should manage their finance like managing a business. 

To manage a sustainable business, you have to make sure you have ongoing clients so that you have ongoing revenue. You should also keep your cost low so that you can have extra every month in order to invest in new things. Businesses usually have multiple streams of income so that if one gets cut off, you can fall back on other streams of income. 

The same goes for personal finance, make sure that your biggest income contributor your client (salary), is properly managed and that you upgrade your skills to ensure that you are getting paid fairly.

You should also keep your expenses low, and trim down those unnecessary expenses. 

If your business cannot survive in Malaysia, perhaps you can think of relocating to other countries, if circumstances allow. 

If you are interested in the cost of living comparison between the two countries, here’s a handy infographic by Imoney:

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3 thoughts on “The Cost Of Living In Malaysia Is Higher Than Singapore

  1. Fred

    Great article which is very original which we all can relate. We talk about so often yet so little written.

    Best of both worlds are those smart Malaysians earning SGD but spending MYR.



    1. Mr Budget

      Thanks Fred! Yes – will also be doing a follow up piece on if it make sense for people to retire in Malaysia and does that make financial sense seeing that cost of living in malaysia is slightly highe + a lot of people always say earn SGD but retire in Malaysia. 🙂


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