Cost of Living Comparison: KL and Jakarta

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When comparing the sprawling Metropolises of Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur, one finds that the differences when it comes to cost of living are virtually negligible. However, there are certain expense categories (including rental housing, transportation and personal care) where stark contrasts can be identified. With its dense population, multiple ethnic groups and a considerably higher GDP (31.92$ Billion to be exact) than KL, Jakarta continues to attract expats from around the world. Kuala Lumpur is, however, more globally connected than her sister-city, has a lower maximum and minimum income tax, and houses a population with a considerably better English language competency.


Cost of Food and Beverage Comparison

Food is approximately a mere 2% cheaper overall in Kuala Lumpur than it is in Jakarta. Though certain staples like milk, chicken and certain fruits (oranges, tomatoes) and vegetables are considerably more expensive in Kuala Lumpur, the majority of market groceries are slightly cheaper in Malaysia.
There is a considerable difference in the cost of alcohol in Jakarta as compared to Kuala Lumpur. Both foreign and domestic bottled beer is around 24% cheaper in Jakarta than it is in KL. However, it should be noted that this price can vary when it comes to restaurants. In KL, if you want to enjoy a fine imported brew with your meal, you will be charged around 7% less than in Jakarta. The difference in the amount you will pay at most up-market Malaysian Restaurants as compared to those in Indonesia is virtually nothing.
Wine is distinctively more expensive in Jakarta, where a good bottle of plonk will run you around 40% more than you would pay in Malaysia.

Rental Costs and Housing Comparison

Average rental prices in Kuala Lumpur are 23.42% higher than in Jakarta. By far the largest contrast in rental costs can be observed when comparing the cost of apartments inside and outside the centers of both cities. For example, the cost of a single bedroom apartment in the heart of Jakarta is around 6,000,000.00 rp per month, a measly 8.56% less than the monthly rent in Kuala Lumpur. The cost of a similar one bedroom apartment outside the city center is a staggering 86.10% more expensive per month in Kuala Lumpur.
For anyone looking to purchase an apartment, it is roughly 33.4% more expensive per square meter both in and outside of the KL city center.  

Cost of Transportation Comparison

Despite gasoline prices per litre being 19% cheaper in Kuala Lumpur, transportation costs are on average 48% more expensive than in Jakarta.  Public transportation is 69% more expensive in Kuala Lumpur, although the terrible traffic congestion in Jakarta ameliorates this fact somewhat.

A monthly travel pass, such as the KL rapid pass, is double the price you would pay in Jakarta.  

Cost of Leisure and Entertainment Comparison

The median monthly disposable salary after tax in Kuala Lumpur is three times higher than it is in Jakarta. It is fortunate, therefore, that average entertainment and leisure costs in KL are 21% cheaper also. Though ticket prices for the cinemas are more or less the same, enjoying a cocktail at a decent nightclub can be considerably less expensive in Kuala Lumpur (though this subject is still subject to a great deal of controversy, and thorough statistics are not yet available). Fitness fans may prefer Jakarta, as monthly club membership for gym and sport facilities are less expensive there (though this, too, is subject to some contention).
Prepaid mobile phone tariffs per minute are 63% cheaper in Kuala Lumpur and this aspect, coupled with the fact that there are 26.75% more Facebook users in Malaysia’s capital compared to Indonesia’s, means that the latter city is a marginally better choice for keeping in contact with your friends with ease and comfort.

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