Cost of Living Comparison: KL and Bangkok

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The overall cost of living in Bangkok is more or less, ringgit for baht, the same as living in Kuala Lumpur in many ways. There are, however, a variety of disparities when it comes to the price of certain food products, housing and entertainment.

Cost of Food Comparison

Food in Kuala Lumpur is around 11% cheaper than in Bangkok. Though you can still live off Bangkok street food for the equivalent of 1 US dollar a day, fast food restaurants, hawker and mamak stalls, as well as staples such as fruit and vegetables, are considerably cheaper in KL. Beer is 86% cheaper in Thailand than it is in Malaysia. Wine however, surprisingly, is 20% more pricy in Malaysia.
Grocery prices are slightly higher (8.22%) in Bangkok than they are in Kuala Lumpur. The difference, however, is virtually negligible and the Tescos and hypermarkets found in both cities are largely similar.

Cost of Housing Comparison

Some residents in Bangkok proclaim that they can rent out a comfortable room in Thailand for around 5US$ a night. However, the real cost and equivalent comfort of living in Bangkok remains quite a controversial subject among expat residence living there, and many claim that you will need to fork out a lot more baht to live with all the basic amenities in this bustling Thai metropolis. Housing in Kuala Lumpur is slightly cheaper (roughly 9%) than Bangkok. However, some amenities (certain television, microwave brands, laundry products) are significantly more expensive in Malaysia. Internet access in particular is, in most areas, far pricier in KL than it is in Bangkok. Also, if you are looking to employ the services of a maid for some on and off housework, the average hourly rate in Kuala Lumpur is almost double the price you would pay in Bangkok.

Cost of Transportation Comparison

Transportation costs in KL are 29% more expensive than in Bangkok. However, the quality comparison of both cities public transport systems remains the subject of great controversy and consternation, particularly when it comes to analyzing just what the customer is getting for their money.  On a regular business day, an 8km taxi journey will cost an average of RM18 in KL, whilst you can make the same trip in Bangkok for 109 baht. However, the traffic congestion is considered one of the worst in the entire south East Asian region.
Petrol is notably more expensive in Bangkok than in Malaysia. 1 litre of Gas will run the commuter 39 baht (the equivalent of RM4.03), whilst in Kuala Lumpur the current price per litre is a mere RM1.94!

Cost of Leisure and Entertainment Comparison

General leisure and entertainment prices in Kuala Lumpur (i.e cinemas, the theatre, a night out at the pub, a gym membership, etc) cost slightly less (12%) than in Bangkok. Frequenting malls is an extremely popular pastime in both cities, and there are only slight variances when comparing the price you will pay at the bowling alley or the arcade. Going to the movies in KL is distinctively cheaper than going to the flicks in Bangkok.
A thorough, all-encompassing statistical analysis would likely reveal that living in Bangkok, on the whole, would be a little easier on the expats wallet. However, the cost is practically negligible and the considerable body of literature and YouTube videos that covers the cost of living in Bangkok seems to reflect that the choice of destination would largely come down to individual preferences rather than strong economic living incentives.

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